Some days ago I received an interview by email, somebody asked me about the way I write my briefs when designing by order. At first time it looked like Spam so I didn’t care too much, but on a second read I thought it would be a good blog post.
So let’s talk about the brief
1. How important is for you the brief you get from your client when you’re asked to design something?
In my current situation it’s not that important because my services and style are very defined, anyone that visits my portfolio knows what I do and what to expect, so I don’t need a very detailed brief. Actually I wouldn’t recommend an extensive brief if you work for small client profiles with low experience in the design process, in some cases it´s appreciated negatively, clients tend to think you are so lazy that you give them homework to save time yourself.
I recently had to do a refund because the client was so rushed that he refused to write a brief, he textually said:
"We don’t need a corporate message… It seems to me that you have boilerplate questions that you ask regardless of the design goal or source and try to force your customers to answer them by repeating the same questions over and over. Your design process needs to work with the customer, for the customer — not force the customer to work around your methods or requirements."
2. Are you fully satisfied with the briefs received from your clients?
They usually don’t provide a brief, there are exceptions, specially for web design orders since the client perceives the task as more complex. For logo or corporate illustrations I usually ask some informal questions and they tend to reply briefly. It´s tough, on one hand you need to get the info, on the other hand, you need to ask carefully or the client could be offended.
3. Do you help your client to create his brief? If yes, how do you do it?
Yes, I do. I openly ask for their brief, they usually don’t have one so I write a list of key questions to understand their needs. As I previously said, it needs to be a short list and direct to the core.
4. How hard is for your clients to create a brief even if they receive some helping questions?
Most of the clients have problems to define their own corporate values and their corporate image, they actually are not conscious about their brand identity. If I ask something like: "what are the feelings you want to communicate? or how would you like to be perceived? they reply with series of adjectives with so wide meaning that is not too helpful, like: cool, professional, sleek, good looking… they don’t elaborate their replies too much.
5. Are you satisfied with the solution you use right now in order to get complete briefs from your clients (meaning a brief that is really helpful for you when you start working at your client’s project)?
Yes, I do. It’s not perfect but it works.
The problem is not my design process, it’s a deeper problem, it’s my whole brand identity. Right now I’m perceived like an artist, but I’m redesigning my corporate stuff to be perceived like a brand manager with very good artistic skills.
6. An I add the following questions: What do you do when the client refuses to write a brief or he does it sloppily?. Would you accept the work even if you know it’s not going to be a good logo or web?
Honestly, at this point, sometimes I don’t know how to act. I usually refuse the work and I offer a refund… what do you do?