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Here’s Why We’re Brief Makers, not Brief Takers

Getting a brief for any work is essential before we begin our design projects.

Knowing what you as a client want and needs is key to a successful project.

A brief for your design is a core part of the process… but there’s a problem we wanted to share with you.

  • What if the brief isn’t what you really need?
  • What if the brief is misguided or badly thought through?
  • What if… the person who created the brief isn’t actually the right person to do it?

This transcends all types of work and it’s not just limited to design. The key issue here is that the brief traditionally comes from you as the client; the person who needs the help to create it.

But you’re not the person who knows how to create it.

That’s why we’re brief MAKERS, not brief TAKERS.


Many design agencies are brief takers

Getting asked to do new work is exciting. Without that enquiry, call, meeting, or interesting email, our businesses wouldn’t flourish, and we’d all be in a painful place.

Getting the chance to work on a brief is a great feeling. We feel that many agencies simply let that excitement take over and they forget why they do what they do in the first place.

A brief doesn’t need to be set in stone, and it shouldn’t be taken as the only way. A brief is merely a set of instructions from a client.

If a designer follows a brief from a client to the letter – with the greatest respect – it’s unlikely to be a success. Our clients aren’t the best people to create it – we are.

The major problem (and we see and hear about it a lot) is that agencies are simply too lazy/afraid/inexperienced to question the brief.

We know, we understand, and we get it. Obviously we don’t want to lose your contract! But we understand that we won’t keep you forever if we let you guide the work and the outcome is inferior. We think we’re better placed to create the brief, or at least amend it slightly if need be.

Other agencies might use brief takers, who simply take instructions from the client and go away and create something according to what the client thinks they want, without question… and we wanted to tell you that that’s not how it should work!


Are they really solving the problem?

Any work we take on for a client (especially design and marketing) needs to fix a problem. Before we go any further, and way before we start work, we need to work out what that problem is.

This takes a good conversation, or workshop, or a session with the team or the core part of the business to do this.

We ask you: “What are you actually trying to do?”

Because the brief you created is what you want to do, not always what you need to do!

Asking the right questions, poking in the right places, and posing some awkward suggestions is where a real design brief comes from, not from a brief created on the basis that you think you should do something because “it looks good” or it’s like someone else’s or “similar to the competition”.


Your project is built on sand!

Ultimately, especially with what we do, the end result is highly dependent on the build or final format, and that’s dependent on creating the right thing on the right basis in the first place!

EXAMPLE:Let’s say that company A has a problem with their image.

They want to attract young millennials, but their messages, brand, and subsequent marketing falls on deaf ears with them as it simply doesn’t resonate.

Let’s say for a moment that company A’s directors and core team think it’s something else. They think they need a logo refresh and some brighter colours and maybe some kind of social media style graphics to add to their new comms plan.

If we went down the road of the brief, it might get close, but it wouldn’t hit home as well as it could have done, had we really dug down to the real problem.

In effect, the final project is built on sand!

Without a ‘dig deep’ conversation there is no real foundation to the project and therefore no one achieves the results they want (or expect).

It’s amazing how often this can come as a shock!

“Why didn’t it work?”

… because you solved the wrong problem – one your customers didn’t have!


You’re solving a problem, not creating another one

Design is there to create a solution to a problem and when we dig deep and ask the right questions, that’s when the magic flows.

The magic flows because we become entwined with you as a client, understanding your business, your challenges, your flaws, and your shiny good bits. We create that extra special relationship so we can reach in and tease out the answers to the problem in order to create results.

What we don’t want you to do is ‘wing it’ or allow yourself to be led down the wrong path by someone who means well but doesn’t fully understand what you’re trying to achieve with the project.

Don’t take the brief – MAKE the brief!


We’re right nosy, we are!

With 25+ years’ experience, Philippa, our MD is a nosy git!

She’ll ask the questions that people don’t think or dare to ask, and she does that because we want to give the best service and get the best results, and she knows that needs the right questions and the subsequent answers.

“Isn’t it a risk?”

Well, it all depends on the way you look at it.

  • We take on the brief and do what you ask, we’ll keep you happy.
    But that’s only a short term
  • If the design work doesn’t convert, it’s actually a LOSE.
  • But if we make the brief and challenge what you ask and get a great result?
    That’s a long term WIN for both!


It’s all about the long game and the end result

You need to get the results to ensure getting more business, and that requires you to start from the right place and not build your entire project on sand.

Be brave… your project will be all the better for it!

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