Design a Brand Identity: Write an Airtight Creative Brief | Courtney Eliseo | Skillshare

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Design a Brand Identity: Write an Airtight Creative Brief

teacher avatar Courtney Eliseo, Brand Clarity & Design

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.

      Class Overview


    • 2.

      An Overview of the Process


    • 3.

      Anatomy of a Creative Brief


    • 4.

      Creative Brief Breakdown: Part 1


    • 5.

      Creative Brief Breakdown: Part 2


    • 6.

      Creative Brief Breakdown: Part 3


    • 7.

      Next Steps


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About This Class

Design a Brand Identity: Write an Airtight Creative Brief is the second class in my new class series where I'm breaking down my entire brand development process into smaller, yet more in-depth, chunks. In this class I'm following my class focused on asking the right questions with a deep dive into Creative Briefs. In 7 short lessons—under 35 minutes!—you will learn:

In 7 short lessons—under 35 minutes!—you will learn:

  1. How to use a Creative Brief with clients
  2. Essential Creative Brief content
  3. Strategies for content development

Creative Brief writing is such a helpful skill for designers to master. Briefs facilitate better client communication and also help organize and streamline the design process. This class will provide you with a detailed overview of the design thinking I use to develop briefs, one that I've refined over my 13 years in the design field. You'll leave class ready to incorporate Creative Briefs into your own client projects, ensuring the design process runs smoothly no matter what you're working on or who you're working with.

You'll leave class ready to incorporate Creative Briefs into your own client projects, ensuring the design process runs smoothly no matter what you're working on or who you're working with.

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Courtney Eliseo

Brand Clarity & Design


Hello! I'm Courtney Eliseo, a new-ish mom, East Coaster living in the PNW, and the founder of En Route Workshop, where I help service-based businesses connect with more ideal clients through brand clarity and design.

A Bit About Me

Most mornings you can find me on the yoga mat, and most evenings you can find me curled up on the couch with a glass of wine. But as often as possible, I am off exploring somewhere new, breathing in ocean air, and soaking up every bit of the world around me. I have a deep-rooted desire to make things, a boundless sense of curiosity, and love losing myself in stories.

When it comes to design, my goal is to make work that is thoughtful, timeless, and most importantly, authentically aligned with who you are, your plans for the future... See full profile

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1. Class Overview: Hi guys, welcome to design a brand identity, write an airtight creative brief. I'm Courtney Elise, the founder of Henri workshop. I have been in the design industry for about 13 years, and with Henri workshop, I focus on working with small business owners, and entrepreneurs on developing their brands and helping them to get them out into the world. For this class, it is the second in a series where I am actually breaking down that entire brand identity design process that I use, and going over everything in smaller but more in-depth chunks. This class will be all about creative briefs and how they work. While I approach this from somebody who works in branding, this skill is really an essential one for anybody that's working in the design industry. No matter what aspect of graphic design you are involved in, creative brief is something that can be super helpful for you working with clients. Even the creative fields outside of graphic design, we'll probably find some value in using this type of a tool working with a client, especially a new one that you're not familiar with. What you'll learn in this class is, how to use the creative briefs with clients. The essential creative brief content, which will be the bulk of the class. Then also strategies for developing that content. For your project, you're going to start getting some practice, writing a creative brief for yourself. For our purposes though, we'll focus mainly on the message portion of the brief, which I will definitely go over in more depth. It is one of the most challenging parts of the brief to write, but it's also where you can use the most creativity, so it is the perfect place to start getting some practice. In order to develop the content, we'll be heavily sourcing information from client questionnaires. That's not something that you have on hand already. I would suggest pausing and going back to my asteroid questions class, and starting there. That will give you all of the information you need to know for how to develop a client questionnaire, the right questions to ask, and it will get you more prepared for this class and you'll get more out of it. Overall, this is a super helpful skill to have as you're working with clients. As I said before, it especially comes in handy when you're working with someone you're not familiar with and you're just getting started. It gives you a starting place of common ground with the client, and really helps push towards more successful outcomes, happier clients, less stress, less misunderstanding and miscommunication. I highly recommend practicing writing creative briefs as part of your overall design process. If you're following along in the series, this will just move you one step closer to the complete design process and we'll just continue to dive in from there. Let's get started. Next up, we are going to just go over an overview of the process. 2. An Overview of the Process: Hi guys, welcome to lesson 2, where we'll be going through an overview of the process and talking about why creative briefs are important. First of all, let's talk about what the purpose of a creative brief is. Why do we use these things anyways? First, it makes your job easier. The brief acts as a blueprint for the entire project and you have an agreed upon set of parameters between you and the client to work from and test your work against, as you move throughout the process. This allows you to compare your ideas against the brief, and it will definitely help you narrow down your options and refine them as you move forward in actual designing. Also, it is much easier to brainstorm design ideas using one central document that really provides an overview of the entire project, as opposed to piecing things together from notes, conversations and emails, and playing more of a guessing game with where things are at. This really helps you focus. The other main purpose is that it facilitates better client communication. This step in the process takes all of the information you've gathered so far in your questionnaire throughout your conversations with the client initially before you sign the contract and started working together and it distills it into a succinct document that has all of the essential information that you need. The other main purpose is that it facilitates better client communication. You have this one document that comes from all of the information gathered in the client questionnaire that the client has seen and approved and you both agree that this is the direction the project should take and these are the parameters you should be working with them. You have this one succinct document to refer back and forth to throughout the process. Along those same lines, it really helps to resolve misunderstandings as you move forward. For example, say the design that you present to the client and the first round, gets some feedback that contradicts the brief a little bit. They say, for example, that they wish the design felt more masculine when that's not something that was mentioned on the brief at all and in fact, there might even be words that contradict that on the brief. This gives you an opportunity to go back and have a discussion with the client to resolve that issue surrounding the brief. You can go back and look at that together and discuss it and then decide how to move forward if the feedback is misguided and needs to be reined in based on the parameters of the brief or the brief needs to be revisited. They might have realized that something was off once they actually saw the design that happens sometimes but you have this document to work from to make those revisions as opposed to just grasping at straws. This brief actually just limits all the back and forth you have and will help facilitate your communication throughout the process so that you're not spinning your wheels as you design. Where does this stuff fit into the process? The time to write up a creative brief is after you've gotten all of the information that you need from your client ideally through a detailed client questionnaire. Here's how it should go. Use your questionnaire answers to fill at each section of the creative brief. Review and refine. Share the brief with the client and then make revisions if necessary based on their feedback and then finalize. Super-simple step. Then once you share it with the client and get their approval, you're really ready to move on to the next step of the process, which in my case is creating a mood board. That customer coming up next in the series so stay tuned for that. Next up, while we stay on creative briefs we're going to talk about the anatomy of a creative brief and just give you an overview of the essential sections that I like to include. 3. Anatomy of a Creative Brief: Hi guys, welcome to Lesson 3, Anatomy of a Creative Brief. In this lesson, I'm just going to give you a quick overview of the essential sections that I include in my brief and give you a few overall editing and writing tips before we dive into specifics on each section. Overall, I include seven essential sections in my briefs. In the past, I've had more than this, but as I've refined my process over the years, these sections are really seemed to provide the most value to both me and the client throughout the process. First is background, then objective, message, target audience, distinguishing characteristics, tone, and means. These are the seven sections that I'm going to go through with you in the next set of videos. A few quick tips before we get into the details of all the different sections. A few things to keep in mind as you start writing. The first is this is probably going to require a lot of editing, especially as you get started, so don't expect to sit down and write a brief in five minutes and have it be perfect. The second is to keep it short and sweet. The brief is meant to be a quick reference documents, so it's not the place to be super long winded and details, and I'll go into how that plays out in each of the different sections as we move forward, and then third is be direct. Again, this is along the same lines, but the document is meant to be used so that you and your client can have a quick reference and keep yourselves on track throughout the process. Any language or messaging that's a little bit vague is only going to money that. You want to be as straightforward and to the point as possible. That's a quick overview, and next up we're going to start going through the different parts of the brief. In Lesson 4, we're going to have Part 1 where I'm going to go through the first couple of sections. 4. Creative Brief Breakdown: Part 1: Hi guys, welcome to lesson 4, where I'm going to start breaking down the creative brief, and going through his section by section. This is the first part. Since there's a ton of information to cover, I'm just going to go through sections 1 to 3 here. The first section we're going to look at his background. Then we're going to look at objective, and then target audience. Let's get started. Background, so the primary question you're trying to answer when you write the background section of the brief, is who is the client, and what is the current situation? A few tips for putting this section together. First, you want to describe this in the simplest way possible. Is the client expanding a store, are they opening a new service-based business? This should just be straightforward and direct, a simple explanation of what they're up to right now. Try to keep this to a couple of sentences. This does not need to be a long in-depth history of the company. Lastly, as I mentioned, we're going to look to the questionnaire a lot. If you're referring back to your questionnaire and wondering where to pull this information from. The first step would be to look at the basic section. The information might be streamed out a few of the sections, but this is a good place to start. As long as you have solid answers on your questionnaire, this section is one of the simpler sections to put together. The next section we're going to go through is objective. For the objective, the primary question you're trying to ask is, what are you trying to accomplish? This actually is a bit more complicated than it seems. The instinct I find, especially with people that aren't super familiar with bright and creative briefs, is to say something like create a logo, but that's really not the objective. There's always something behind that for the clients. You really need to push beyond the surface level objective here. Think about what is the client's primary goal for doing this project? Are they trying to connect with a different audience, do they want to have a more professional face on their business? Etc. We don't want to say how we're doing it that comes later. This is really the why. This is important because you want to have a deeper reason for doing the project than just to create a logo. A logo is never just a logo, it's existence has meaning, that should be a primary focus of the work that you're doing. I'm using logo as an example, but you can take that word out and replace it with anything else, website, brochure, any deliverable. That's what we want to stay away from here. The main idea is really to dig deeper. Then when it comes to your questionnaire reference, I would start by looking to the history and future plan section, to find your answer. The next section we're going to go through his target audience. The primary questionnaire we're trying to answer here is, who are your client's ideal customers? This is a super simple section to fill out, because we have a whole questionnaire area dedicated to this, the audience section. The challenge here is really just distilling down the information in that section to, what is most essential so it's important to be really specific, and something to think about while you're trying to narrow down the information included is to just choose the most compelling information. What information really gives you the most helpful detail to contribute to your design process. Say for example, you are starting a new brand project for the design of a hair care product line. You have a bunch of information about the audience and one thing that's included is some data surrounding stores, that they typically shop at for hair care products. You can see what their typical price point is there, what location is, and have a lot of data about their shopping behavior. Then also included in that information is the shoe sizes of the audiences. Now, what is going to actually contribute to helping you design and come up with the most compelling design. You need compelling information. The shoe size probably doesn't matter at all. That's you can ignore, and doesn't need to go on the brief, even though it might be interesting to see. Whereas their shopping behavior, is something that's probably super interesting and can really help you make good choices throughout the process. Another tip is to just break multiple audiences down. I've worked with clients who definitely have multiple audiences they're trying to target. Rather than lumping them together, or trying to put it all into one. Especially if there are super targeted pieces to each of them. Take those audiences, break them down, choose the most compelling information related to each audience and just list them separately in order of importance. This is a situation where you really need to be super specific because this can easily turn into a really confusing situation. Try to break it down as much as possible, and try to be as super specific and simple as possible, so that this is very clear and easy to understand. Again, is a very good reference point moving throughout the project. Then lastly, obviously you want to look to the audience section to find all of this information. If you're ion section isn't flashed out, it's probably time to have another conversation with the client because this information is essential to the design process. That covered the first three sections, we're going to move on in the next video, once you digest that a little bit, and talk about the next couple of sections in part 2. 5. Creative Brief Breakdown: Part 2: Hi guys, welcome to lesson 5, creative brief breakdown part 2, where we're going to go through the next two sections. Sections 4 and 5, which are message and distinguishing characteristics. Let's start with message. The primary question you're asking here is what is your client trying to say? For the message, I'm going to go into a bit more detail than I will with the other sections since we're focusing on it for your project. First, as I mentioned earlier, this is one section where you can get a little bit more creative with the language, which makes it a little bit more fun to write. But it was also a little bit more challenging because it isn't just necessarily a straight forward answer that we get directly from the questionnaire. You do still want to keep it simple. Even though you have a little bit more creative license to write something a little bit more interesting here, you still want to make sure you're being straightforward and direct. What you should do here is take all the information you've gathered so far, distill that down into the simplest expression of what the client is trying to say. Ask yourself, how do they want their client to perceive them? What is the one big idea they want to be known for? This is an instance where you're probably going to want to write more than you need to and then edit it down. Since this writing exercise is actually really similar to writing a tagline, I definitely suggest brainstorming a bunch of different options and then narrowing them down and figuring out what makes the most sense and what expresses that concept in the most succinct way, while also keeping in interesting. Places to look for information to get you started would be the vision section and then the history and future plan section. Generally, this is where you're going to see more references to, if not a very specific expression of what they're trying to say, that maybe you just need to tweak a little bit. I would start by looking there and then start brainstorming and then edit. There's a few different formats that this section can take. I'm going to show you a few different examples for these directions so that you can pick and choose based on your own specific client project circumstances and decide what makes the most sense for you. The first one is a straightforward example. This is for a client I had, Coderella, and this message, Coderella brings extensive tech industry expertise and a unique internal approach to the public relations industry. This is very straightforward, one sentence, says what they do in a very specific way, and also highlights what makes them a little bit different in the industry. You don't want to say, "Coderella is a public relations agency." That's not a message, that's just a sentence describing what they do and what they are. We want to figure out what is unique about them and turn that into the message. Whether we're being straightforward or more creative, that's the goal. Another way you can do that is to be a little bit more descriptive. This is a message for another old client, Kanopi Health. Their message is, "Kanopi Healthcare improves the health of children and, in doing so, the quality of life for families by delivering timely and effective pediatric care." Again, it's a longer sentence, but it's still one sentence. This is getting a little bit more emotion involved into it, so it's a little bit more descriptive as opposed to the previous example we saw. This is just the middle ground between being very simple and straightforward and direct, and being a little bit more creative with your message. Then the last example I want to give you is a more narrative example where we're really telling more of a story. My message for CB and Co., which is a more recent client of mine. To read the message for CB and Company, this definitely reads more of a story, but also talks about the promise that they offer. "CB and Company offers discerning Kosher diners elevated American classics in a warm, unpretentious, and welcoming environment. It's a place where the comfort of a delicious home-cooked meal meets the modern elegance of a fine dining experience. Where patrons will be met with hospitality that brings to mind holiday meals spent with close family and friends. Where the food itself will be rivaled only by the polish of the service, ambience, and experience." In this message, we're touching on a lot of details that make the restaurant different, and then make it unique, and express what they want to say to their audience to draw people in and to start connecting with the people who they want to find. But it's telling it in a way that is more of a story. This is another direction you can go. All three of these directions are totally fine options. It really just depends on your particular client and a particular project circumstances. You can use your judgment and you can even try writing the message in all of these different styles and see what resonates for you and choose the option that best suits the project and the client entire communication you've done with them so far. The next section is distinguishing characteristics. In this section, the question you're trying to answer is what makes your client unique? This section is one of the most straightforward to fill out, but it will also provide you with some details that you'll likely want to focus on as you begin the design process. So it's really important. I'll just give you a couple of quick tips to get you started. First, you just want to ask yourself, what makes the client stand out from the competition? Is there a specific or unique approach they take? Do they have a totally different personality or style than most of their competitors? What are those unique attributes that you definitely want to focus on as you move throughout the design process? In the interest of simplicity, pick and choose the most specific and unique attributes to focus on. This will definitely make your life easier as you start to design. Answers for this one can really be pulled from throughout the questionnaire. You'll want to read it carefully and pickup things that the client isn't maybe necessarily even noticing themselves. Take a particular look at the competition section and also the vision section. I would start there because those two sections tend to have a lot of details, even if the client's not intending to provide them in the way that we're going to use them here, those two sections will be a really good resource for you to check out first. That covers up to the first five sections of the brief. In the next lesson, we're going to go through the last two sections and then I'll give you some general tips for the writing process. 6. Creative Brief Breakdown: Part 3: Hey guys, welcome to lesson 6: Creative Brief Breakdown, part 3. Where we will be going through the last two sections of the brief and I'll also give you some general tips for writing. Section 6 and 7, what we're looking at is tone and means. Let's start with tone. To the primary question you're asking here is, what personality does the client want to project? This section is so important to get right before you move on to the design phase because it will play directly into the direction the visuals take. It is essentially a list of adjectives that describe your client's brand as if it were a person. A couple of tips, first, you want to be super descriptive in this a section. One challenge I run into all of the time is that clients don't necessarily provide the most descriptive words for us to work from here. A perfect example of this is the word professional. I get that answer all the time. Is a fine word, but it's not very descriptive. It doesn't really give us a whole lot to work with when we start actually trying to figure out what this personality is going to start shaping up to look like visually. Plus, I strive for all of the work that I do to be professional as I'm sure you do as well, so it really just doesn't provide a whole lot of information as far as unique descriptionists go to help us get the client a really good result. Make sure that the adjectives that you choose are both accurate to who the client is, but also as descriptive as possible so that you can really get creative with coming up with visuals that reflect that tone. How are you going to use the tone is really as a barometer to check your work as you move through the process. Once you start coming up with options and brainstorming concepts, you can go back to the brief and say, okay, is this direction I'm going in feminine, is this direction industrial? Whatever your words are, you can check your work against the tone that you established to make sure that you're on track with the project. I always try to keep it to five or less, because once you start getting beyond that, it becomes an extreme challenge, if not impossible, to get your work to hit all of those different words. One thing to keep in mind is your work doesn't necessarily need to reflect all of those words equally. That's potentially impossible. Certain words are going to stand out a little bit more than others, but as long as there are some aspects of the brand or the concept that you're coming up with that reflect each of those different words, then you know that you're on the right track. To relate back to our questionnaire, you can start by looking at the vision section. In fact, in my questionnaires I do have one question that relates to this very specifically, which is, if your brand were a person, how would you describe its personality? That section could just fill out this entire section of the brief for you entirely. But chances are you'll have to do some reworking of the words and try to come up with some words that are both more accurate and a little bit more creative so that you have more to work from. I would suggest taking a close look at the entire questionnaire to start pulling out adjectives from other sections that the client might have used without really realizing that it would apply directly to that personality question. Let's move on to the means. This section is definitely the simplest section we're dealing with on the brief. The question you're asking is, what are the project deliverables? This is super straightforward. A couple of tips, just don't overthink it. This is where you can easily say, we're creating a logo. It can just be a one word answer, logo; it doesn't need to be anything beyond that. As we talked about the why versus the how earlier, this is the how section. There's no reason to get into any why, there's no reason for explanation. We just want to say very simply, these are the things that we are delivering. That really covers all of the main sections of the brief. Let's just go over a few tips to keep in mind as you start working this into your process. As you go through each section of the brief, as you're writing, there's a few questions that you should ask yourself. Is this clear? Does it answer the primary objective of that section? Is it as simple as it can possibly be? These three things are what you want to keep in mind no matter what section you're writing. I would suggest that you run everything through this list, when you think you're finalized on a certain section, you've edited enough, it's in your mind done, run it through these questions. Make sure your answer is yes to all of them, and then you're ready to move on. Just to remind you that writing creative briefs definitely takes editing, especially when you're first getting used to it because you want everything to be so simple. Generally, you need to throw everything out there and write a lot more than you need and then edit it down. Remember that both you and the client are going to be held to this document as a guideline as you've worked throughout the process, so you really want it to work for you, both in terms of client communication and in terms of informing your design process. Just make sure that you're on track by asking yourself those questions and you're good to go. In the next final lesson, we are just going to go over what your next steps are and talk about how this fits into the process and your project. 7. Next Steps: Hey guys, welcome to the last lesson in Write an Airtight Creative Brief. I'm just going to wrap everything up for you, talk about the process a little bit and the next steps with your project. So let's just get right into it. First, the client process. Let's talk about how we're going to put the creative brief to use now. I've given you some tips along the way, this is just a really simplified version of what the process might look like on your end once you've already written everything and you've finalized it and you're ready to go. First, obviously share with the client. Once you do, ask them to review and have a conversation about each section if that's necessary. You should have enough information from the questionnaire to define each section well enough so that that is not required. But obviously leave that open, just in case the clients maybe never looked at a brief like this before, and they need some additional guidance just to make sure that they're on board with everything. You obviously want them to be fully on board with the content of the brief before you start, because it needs to act as an agreement between the two of you throughout the process. Along those same lines, make sure that you explain how the brief is used and manage their expectations, so that they understand what's expected of them, as well as what you're going to provide based on what the brief is laying out as far as guidelines go. If there's any questions about what content you provided on the brief, clarify those, and then also just tweak the brief if necessary. Leave yourself a little bit of time to make any small updates that you need to, based on the client feedback. Then lastly, just finalize the brief and provide the client with a copy so that they can refer to the document on their own. It's really good for the client to have that in their hands so that when they're reviewing the design work you present on your own time, they can refer to the brief if they need to, or have any questions to help them provide better feedback to you. Now that you're clear how to share the brief with your client, how do you actually make use of it throughout the design process? We've talked about this a bit as we've gone through the different video lessons, but I just want to reiterate that the brief is really a tool for you to use throughout the process. It will help keep the project on track. It will ensure that you produce work that really speaks to what the client needs. It'll ensure that communication between you and the client is really clear, that you have some guidelines to fall back on. You have a place to check your own work against, and the client also has a place to check their feedback against. It really gives you a good foundation to work from, and it'll save you time, it will save you headaches. It will ideally minimize revisions and any misunderstandings that come up, and you'll really just have a smoother process overall. So I highly suggest that you start incorporating briefs into your projects, like I've said before, especially with new clients, when you're first getting used to someone's communication style, you don't know what to expect of them as far as providing feedback. The brief is a super helpful tool to facilitate the two of you getting to know each other and getting more comfortable working together. Then moving forward, maybe you don't always need to use them down the road, but I highly suggest you at least start out that way and evaluate the process as you go, to determine whether or not you need to keep doing that. Let's talk quickly about your project. Now that you get how to create a creative brief, it's time to put that to work for yourself. Let's just focus on the message portion, since that's one of the most challenging sections, and it's also an opportunity for you to get a little bit creative with your writing. Practicing writing the message section will really go a long way. If you need the sample questionnaire that I provided to pull information from that, you can use the questionnaire that you already have, your work from the previous ask the right questions class, or just any client information you have around that will give you a foundation to work from, in order to start writing that message. Just a few steps, first, you want to gather those client materials, no matter what source they're coming from, then you want to sit down and write your message, keep editing it and refining it, and then share it with the class and we'll give you feedback on how to refine and perfect it even further. Just to conclude, this section of my previous longer branded NB class really brought up a ton of questions. I'm glad to have a space where we can really just focus on creative briefs without all of the other sections competing for attention. Any questions that come up about the structure of a brief, how you use them, doesn't have to just be on the message section, please let us know in the discussions tab so that I can help you work through it. I'm really excited for you to have this tool in your arsenal. Once you've started writing creative briefs, the process just gets easier and easier, and it is so helpful for both client communication and your design process, and I know that you're going to find the value in it once you start using them and putting them into place. Next up, I'm going to be launching a class on mood boards. That's generally the next step in my process. I want to show you how I go through that. That'll be coming in July or August. So stay tuned, and again, just post any questions you have in the discussions tab, and I'm happy to help. Thank you.