3 tips for writing authentic and effective project briefing

When it’s time to start a creative project, doesn’t matter if it’s a branding project, editorial or web design, the first step is the project briefing. The designer needs to understand who you are, what the project is about, what are your needs and objectives, the main challenges, etc. All that at this very first moment. Even though the way of capturing the project briefing varies from designer to designer, it’s important to consider that the way you communicate in your project briefing makes a huge difference and has an impact on the development of your project. Not to mention it can save you a lot of time, stress and money.

I’d like to share 3 techniques we developed for writing authentic and efficient project briefings:

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1.AVOID SYNTHESIS:

I always say that communication is a phenomenon that happens not when the message is delivered, but when it is received, perceived and processed by the listener. That being said, to communicate effectively, means to allow the briefed person to understand exactly what’s being said beyond the words. As a creative professional, it’s important to capture the essence of the client’s thoughts and the roots of their motivation. And it is important to notice that at this point, adjectives can be too subjective and vague.

When you brief vaguely, your communication will be vaguely received and therefore, not effective. As a result your project probably won’t come out the way you expected, which can lead to delay, extra revisions and frustration. That’s why you should be careful with the use of adjectives on project briefs. I know, minimising adjectives is not an easy task! But there are some tricks to make them work in your favour when you write a project briefing.

First it’s important to understand the danger of synthesis in a project briefing.

When we convert our ideas into words, we usually have an image in our mind but when we try to synthesise this image in one word, in one single adjective we fall on a trap. How can we synthesise an idea that is not even yet formed? Although it might feel right to process this ideas and deliver a synthesis to our designer, there is no need to do so.

There is no need for synthesis from the client part. It’s ok not to have everything clear in your mind at this stage, as a client, is ok to have multiple references and not know exactly how to convert this ideas into images or words.

It’s part of the designer’s work to understand, process and interpret this references in order to create a solid visual identity concept.

So in a sense, the more information you can give, the better. But hold on! More important than quantity of information is the quality of this information. How to deliver the message in an effective way to your designer?

2.WORKING ON THE QUALITY OF INFORMATION

To specify the information that you is delivered to your designer,your message must be specific. One of the techniques e use is the idea of bounding the information with complementary adjectives and visual references. There are 3 ways of o achieve this quality of the information:

a. Bounding the information with complementary adjectives.:
Specifying an adjective with another complementary adjective helps to clarify what dimension of the specific adjective you would like the designer to focus on. It helps the designer to understand from which perspective you are looking at that adjective. For instance, instead of saying you’d like a “fun, elegant and modern brand” you can specify by saying you want a “fun in the sense of coloured, elegant in the sense of being fresh and clean and modern in the sense of featuring flat graphics”.

b. Bounding the information with opposed adjectives:
Another way to do it, is to inform the designer what possible aspects of your adjectives, should be avoided, therefore setting a limit in terms of where not to go. That way you prevent misinterpretation, for instance, instead of mentioning you want a “fun, elegant and modern brand”, you can set the boundaries by saying you want a brand that is “fun without being childish, elegant without being extravagant and modern without being too cold”.

c. Adding visual references:
Even though at this stage your information is much more specific and detailed, adding visual references can only help. Using the examples above, imagine how better illustrated the briefing would have been if visual references were added. Saying for instance, you’d like a brand that is “fun in the sense of coloured, elegant in the sense of being fresh and clean and modern in the sense of flat graphics, like google” or fun without being childish, elegant without being extravagant and modern without being too cold, like kate spade”.

That way you provide the designers with all the information you can to bring them inside your mind.

To me, personally, it’s very important to feel like I’m sharing the clients mind, thinking alike, feeling their needs, in a way that allows me to develop a project that is truly directed to each person: authentically unique.

To allow this proximity, things have to get a little personal. So the last step is to include some personal information on your briefing:

3.DONT FORGET YOUR STORY

To create an atmosphere where the project flows naturally and efficiently it’s important that designer and client are in total tune. It’s important that everyone is comfortable around each other and cooperation is the center of the relationship. For that to happen, it’s important to share a little bit about your personality, your story, your life. It is particularly beneficial to share the reasons why you chose this job and why you chose to work with your clients.. Where does you motivation comes from? What moves you? Which part of your work you find the most exciting? Who are your favourite clients? How is the relationship you develop with your clients?

All this information is crucial for the designer to interpret your psique and understand your essence.

And in the end, working on that briefing is a way of working on yourself. The things you discover are part of your unique story and can serve you as daily mantras of motivation and self affirmation.

All that to say, work on that briefing! It will pay off! And please, let me know if those tips helped you!

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About the Author

Ana Caiado is the Head Designer and Co-Founder of Le Bear Design. She aims her research on design psychology, collective memory and user perception towards Brand Strategy and that is how she has been helping entrepreneurs in North America, Europe and Brazil express their uniqueness through their authentic brands. For the past 8 years, Ana has been focused on the multiple theoretical and practical aspects of one’s Identity, with academic work at University of São Paulo and Concordia University and client work developed through her two companies BrownSugarBear Design (in Brazil, her homeland) and Le Bear Design (in Canada – her actual home). She is married to the other half of Le Bear Design (Rafael Franciosi – the code man!), she loves all beautiful things and is a mother of 2 furry dogs : )

 

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