Briefing a Design Agency

Harnessing the Creativity of a Graphic Designer

Micro-business Conducting a Creative Briefing

Take the time to conduct a quality creative briefing

Have you ever heard the phrase GIGO? It means Garbage In, Garbage Out and it’s what can happen if you don’t give the correct instructions, or brief, to the professionals producing your marketing materials.

This article provides a structure for micro-businesses to use when briefing agencies and graphic designers, whether for advertising, leaflets, websites or any other marketing items.

Be clear on the audience.

Give as much detail as possible and clear descriptions. Consider this example; ‘single males aged 25 to 35 who enjoy reading quality newspapers, take a short break every year with their friends to somewhere like Prague and have a two week holiday in the sun. They live in a 2-bedroom apartment in the city centre and drive a …’. Notice the detail and how it presents a vivid picture of who the item is aimed at.

It can sometimes be difficult to produce a clear picture of who the audience might be. If this is the case, sometimes cutting an image out of a newspaper or magazine of the ideal target customer can help both you and the designer.

Know the customer’s buying process.

The buying process refers to the stages customers go through before they make a purchase, together with the most important factors in each stage. It is discussed in more detail in Customer Purchasing Processes.

Often they follow a process known as AIDA, which stands for Awareness, Interest, Desire, and Action. They may start the process by seeing an advert (awareness) which leads to a website visit (interest). If the website interests them, they might call with some queries they want to resolve (desire) before purchasing (action).

Explain how you want the audience to respond. Having understood the buying process, you can specify exactly what role the item needs to play. It might be generating awareness, or maintaining and developing interest, or convincing them to buy, or perhaps just creating a warm feeling towards the micro-business, such as with an introductory leaflet.

Demonstrate the Unique Selling Points (USP).

What’s special about the product or service that makes it stand out from competitors or other similar products? Identify the USPs by looking at each feature of the product and asking the question; “what does that mean for my customers?” The answer is a benefit your micro-business provides. If your benefits are better than your competitor’s, you have a Unique Selling Point. If they’re not, keep asking until you find something. You can find out how to identify your USPs in Unique Selling Points.

A micro-business marketing item should clearly state the USPs relevant to a specific stage in the purchase process, for that particular audience. If you’re advertising in a widget magazine, don’t say; “we sell widgets” – the audience will already know that. Instead, say; “our widgets come with a money-back guarantee”, or whatever the most powerful USP for that audience happens to be.

Following these steps should help ensure that the initial concepts created by the graphic designer meet your requirements. However, to provide a complete picture you should also provide the following:

    • Budget – tell the designer or agency how much you are willing to spend on the item. If the budget is limited, they’ll then know not to suggest an all-singing, all-dancing ecommerce website with a full 16 page portfolio presentation to accompany it.
    • Specific requirements – if you want the logo displayed in a certain way or need to include a specific phrase somewhere, tell them at the briefing stage. Similarly, if you have specific text or small print which must be included, let them know at the start so they can build it into their ideas.

The next step will be deciding which idea to choose. See the article on Choosing a Creative Design for guidance on how to do this.

Now you can look forward the most fun part – seeing the ideas and deciding which to choose, knowing you’ve given a quality briefing.