Creative Project Management – Design Brief 101


When it comes to visual content, we’ve already written about how important it is to make it custom. Digital media production brings lots of benefits for promoting your business or service online, but its production is also very time-consuming. It demands the engagement of several people with several different skill sets. Why do it then and why is design brief so important? Well, it appears to be the only acceptable way in contemporary advertising. Nothing short of custom visual content won’t do the trick (at least not in the same measure).

Creativity is one of the prerequisites for custom content creation. We already wrote about inducing it. A creative design brief is one of the requirements of custom visual content creation. In an advertising agency, a copywriter or a creative director usually write them.  They are planing the resources, equipment and time needed for a single project to be carried out. You are not an experienced project manager or a creative director. You don’t have one in your team. That’s ok!  There are some necessary steps you can follow to make your project see the light of day.

Designers are special!

Designers are special

Designers are special

The first thing you have to bear in mind while writing a design brief is who are you writing it for. Designers, photographers, and videographers are generally artistic souls. More important than that, they see and imagine things visually. When you write a brief for them, they will, unconsciously at least, search for the descriptions of the visual. How to properly give that kind of explanation?

The first thing you need to avoid is to skimp on words. Although they like and think visual, if you don’t have the luxury of explaining your idea in person, you should write an in-depth description of your idea as much as it’s possible. Even though they might not read it word for word. If they don’t get the clear picture of your idea, they will try to get it from the second reading. Your job is to make sure that you gave a clear explanation of the things you came up with, in your brief. Bear in mind that if the something is clear to you, that doesn’t have to be the case with the person which received your brief.

Pro tip: Be aware that designers will see the slightest of errors in the visual part of their design, you wouldn’t notice even if you stared into it for hours. On the other hand, when it comes to the text inside an image, video or something similar, they probably won’t notice if you wrote a clear error such as “ontice” instead of “notice”. They will just copy the text, so that part’s on you

A picture is worth a thousand words!

During the writing of a brief, this saying gets an even stronger meaning. You have to keep in mind that describing a picture or a photograph is very hard. Imagine the case with a video then. Each aspect you haven’t specified in the design brief, you’re leaving to chance. Digital media production is used for several types of visual content types. Those can be pieces like digitally produced images, altered images or photographs, taken photographs, videos, infographics, three-dimensional models and so on. They are different from one another, but they do have some standard features you can predetermine in advance. These will help with the clarity of your design brief: 

  • colors ( bright, monochromatic, cold, warm, faded, colorful,…) 
  • point of view ( low shot, bird-eye, first-person, over the shoulder,…) 
  • composition ( close up, medium, long, cowboy, zoom and establishing shot,…) 
  • sensation ( serious, sad, funny, joyful, vintage, futuristic, realistic, surreal, avangard,…) 
  • effect ( clear, blurry, black and white, grainy,…) 

All these things and more can be true helpers when it comes to the moment of explaining your visual idea. A good thing to do is to compare it with something. In my personal opinion, creativity very much exists but ultimate originality doesn’t. What do I mean by that? Well, with each idea we get, we were inspired by something, we saw, heard or experienced in some other way. It doesn’t mean you ripped someone else’s idea. You merely used it and created something of your own. There isn’t a thing in the history of human creation that is so unique that you can’t compare with something that already exists. This notion can be very upsetting for some, but it’s the truth. 

A picture is worth a thousand words

A picture is worth a thousand words

Designers hate adjustments!

Designers, photographers, videographers or video editors are satisfied with what they’ve created once they hand it over to you. They are sure they’ve completed your demands when they deliver it to you. If your audience, your client or yourself are not happy with the result, the blame probably falls on your lack of explanation in brief. That’s why, while writing a brief, that is before you start writing it, be sure to be utterly familiar with several things:

  • What are the mission and vision of the business you are ordering the visual content for?
  • What do you want to achieve with the produced content? 
  • Who is your target audience? 
  • Can designers (and other) do it? 
  • Can they do it in the given time? 

This last point brings us to another crucial part of writing a design brief.

Don’t wait with writing a brief!

Let’s say you’re working in a big advertising company and you have a digital production team. The people with most stuff to do are probably precisely the people in that team. You can never have to much visual content, at least, that’s what my experience had proven me so far. So, when you’re planning to write a design brief, take into account the time your digital production team will have for its realization. They’re most probably not sitting down with crossed arms, waiting for you to give them an assignment.

Even if you’re the only one in your company that’s writing these kinds of briefs, they’re most probably working on your previous one. To avoid doing things at the last minute: plan, give clear directions about the deadline, leave time for the unexpected adjustments, take time to explain more complex ideas in person and make yourself available for additional questions your digital production team might have

TIme is money

TIme is money

Think viability! 

One of the essential qualities of an excellent creative project manager. At the moment in your life, when you decided you want to go creative and do creative things for a living, you probably signed up because of that “creative freedom” segment in your line of work. BUT! After all, this is a business, and you can’t consider yourself a good PM if you’re losing profits with your work. That goes with all project management. It’s vital that you are aware of the things you can do with the budget you have. And the one thing with these things is that you can never have too much, but you can have enough. Creating amazing and elaborate things is terrific, but this is business after all, and business should make money. Now, that’s when it becomes tricky!

If all of this seems a bit much for you, you don’t have the time for writing an elaborate brief, you have some questions, or you need some help, you can always contact us!