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A good brief is great for business

It’s easy to forget how important and defining a great brief can be. I’m sure we’re all guilty of being in that meeting where the project is discussed, words are bantered around and you leave thinking you get it. But are you all actually aligned, probably not. Words thrown around in a meeting can look quite different in black and white.

And if you’re the one left to create the brief, you’ll know it can be challenging, time consuming and quite frankly hard.

Good briefs however are invaluable. In the long run they save budget and time, and should not be forgotten as the process moves further away from the initial concept round, they should be referenced and used as a guide to realising the vision.

Unless you’re a seasoned marketer working on multiple brands, packaging briefs are not necessarily something you’ve ever done before. So understanding what should and shouldn’t be included can be tricky.

Here’s a few of my top tips on what we love receiving when we get a brief, and what we think are the most important elements.

1. Brand Ambition

To understand your goal we need to understand why you are doing this and what you want to achieve. Sometimes the answer is simple, but usually it’s full of complex business decisions mixed up with a brand opportunity. Separating the tactical from the strategic is key here to ensure you move forward with a clear direction that is purpose driven.

2. Define Your Target

We’ve all moved on from the general sweeping generalisations of the ABC consumer types and whilst knowing someone’s shopping basket is interesting, an attitude or passion is what gives us a greater understanding of our ideal consumer. This allows us to uncover a more relevant insight and have greater empathy when creating visual assets that connect emotionally.

3. Out of Scope

Designers are cheeky. It doesn’t matter how many times you tell them the logo is not in scope they have a tinker anyway because of course they know better. So whilst this might sometimes seem a pointless task what it does tell us is how conservative we need to be with some of your assets.

In Summary

Writing great briefs is hard, but definitely worth it. It should be a collaborative process, both internally and with your agency, it’s not a burden to be carried alone, especially as everyone needs to sign it off. The best briefs are focused but not rigid, and whilst you can use design to explore a variety of positionings it’s not always the most time efficient or cost effective way to run a packaging project.

Claire Riley
Founder & Strategy Directory, The Mill Brand Design Agency, Melbourne
Contact Claire if you would like to take advantage of her 20 plus years in the branding and packaging industry. With experience in the UK and Australia working on consumer goods brands, from cheese to gin and everything in between, Claire is passionate about creating unique brand assets that tell stories and increase the bottom line.

Rob Riley