The Design Brief is categorically one of the most important parts in the design process in order for a smooth project journey. Get this wrong or miss any critical information out and the project can fail at any stage. My experience has taught me that it is vital to leave no stone unturned at the briefing stage. I'll ask myself and the client many questions so as to ensure that all the mishaps and lack of information I've experienced in the past are negated or minimised as much as possible.
The Design Brief format is different for every client and unfortunately there isn't a 'one size fits all'. Work is required to make each Design Brief perform as it should throughout the design process. There are some generic questions that will sit comfortably on every brief but the devil is in the detail, you need to delve into the clients expectations and understand the challenges of the retail category you're working within for each project.
Prior to the sending Design Brief to the creative team I'll always get the client to approve the details within the document. My own format for formulating the Design Brief is to create the brief closely in collaboration with the client. I see this as mission critical as it allows the client to feel on board with the design process right from the beginning.
So, what are some of the questions you as the creative lead and/or the client need to ask yourself before the Design Briefing process begins:
1. Who are the competitors within the category you're targeting?
Knowing this information enables the designers to throughly understand the category, comprehend the tone of voice/ key message requirements - and more importantly, know the visual hierarchy of the design assets.
2. What are your likes and dislikes within the competitor set?
Especially useful from clients that are engrained into their own category and know what works and doesn't work based on their own experiences. Some clients can be new to their market and may not know enough about their competitors. This is never a problem. It can give the creative team doing the research an opportunity to get to know the market and the competitors even more.
3. Do you have a specific pack format/ cutter guide in mind?
Knowing the profile or cutter guide prior to beginning the design process can eliminate many unnecessary design hours within the process where speculation is required. It must be noted that changing pack formats or cutters after the concept design stage can impact heavily on the original design thinking and will often require taking many backward steps to retrofit the design.
4. Is there any preferred pack copy, product titles, secondary copy?
If these are available, creating a design and brand that fits perfectly into the design panels is much easier. Product titles can be long or short and often the design can be dictated by the length of copy needed on pack.
5. What is the intended print process? How many colours, finishes? What substrate?
Any designer worth his/her salt will need to know the answer to these as a matter of course. Without this critical information, beginning the design process can be flawed right from the outset. There is no point in designing a lovely design for a litho printed 6 sided box with 6 spot colours, foiling and special varnishes when the actual print format is going to be two colour flexo with no specials.
The more you know before you start the design process the better your design will be in terms of hitting it's target. Putting it plain and simply, if you're armed with the information indicated above to give to your design team, the more efficient the whole design journey and design output becomes.