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The Importance of a Briefing

I can’t say it often enough how important a good and thorough briefing is. According to Wikipedia, a briefing is a short and concise summary of a situation. However, the briefing for a design project should not be concise, but thorough and long enough so the designer receives many details about the company, the product, the target group, the advertisements planned and the competitors etc. Furthermore, the designer has to be informed about the amount of design pieces to be produced, in the short AND long run. Knowing all of this enables the designer to plan and calculate accordingly. Let me give you an example: The client orders a poster layout from the designer because he/she wants to promote their new product. Two months later, they order a website design. A few weeks later, they want a logo to be drafted. Another month later, they need a brochure. All these projects were given to different designers separately and exactly in that order. In the end, nothing fits into a scheme, third parties (also the client’s target group!) maybe do not even recognise it is about one and the same company and everything looks simply wrong and unprofessional. Nevertheless, the client spent a lot of money altogether; a lot of money for a bad visual appearance. It may sound unlogical, but there are companies ordering designs exactly like the above example. Mostly, this occurs because of a lacking understanding for design. The boss of a company doesn’t necessarily have to have this understanding for design processes, this is the designers job to make his client aware of the importance of a briefing and to challenge the client in the course of the briefing. The designer must definitely know what it’s all about, this is crucial. In the example, an experienced designer would have developed a corporate design concept in the beginning, and then they would have applied this concept towards further projects (website, brochure, poster etc.). The result: A continuous design concept that goes through everything like a common thread, the image is correctly transported to the target group and the client has a professional visual appearance in the public, which costs them less than all the „unprofessional“ designs together. And afterwards, the company can realistically think about maximizing profit. (More info about how a good corporate design can maximize your success and profit can be seen here!) But sometimes, companies also think „Does the designer really have to know this and that?“. As it’s about translating a vision into a design: Yes! Simply drawing a nice picture in the CEO’s favourite colours of the season, is not the general idea. The more the designer knows, the better they can work. A further problem that can arise; the client does not know what they want. And it gets worse; the client does not know, who they are and how their business model looks like. If the client keeps saying „I don’t know“ in the briefing, every experienced designer should be warned. These clients very often tend to lay things open (that are crucial for the corporate design), in the middle of the design process or even after the corporate design has been finalised and approved. This can lead to a re-development of the complete corporate design and causes high additional costs and longer waiting times for the company. The lesson is clear: Only after a company knows where to go in the future, a designer can create a design that correctly translates this journey into a visual identity.

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