How Top Designers Define the Creative Brief

What is the creative brief? What does it include? The creative brief, also known as an innovation brief, in its simplest form is the communication document that details all the required information for the design team and the parties involved in the design process during an item’s production.

There are many debates about the content that should be included in the design brief and who should be involved in writing it. While some designers believe it should be as short as possible to give general guidelines for the design team, others consider it as a contract that describes the project in detail to make sure everyone has the proper instructions to adequately meet the client’s expectations.

In his short film, “Briefly,” Tom Bassett, the founder of Bassett & Partners, tries to explore the practical meaning behind the creative brief based on the thoughts of top creative designers and design leaders in the industry. Among the big names who shared their ideas are Frank Gehry, David Rockwell, illustrator Maira Kalman, and Yves Béhar, the founder of Fuse Project.

Bassett said the goal of the September 2014 production was to show young designers the dynamic meaning of the creative brief and how different companies look at it from different approaches.

The short film reiterates an idea that has been discussed previously by Peter Phillips in his book, “Creating the Perfect Design Brief,” that there is no magic formula or fixed structure to follow in writing the brief. It is more like a dynamic conversation to share project information and creative requirements.

The creative brief is key to different design projects from various industries. While I’ve noticed that most of the articles and books addressing the topic limit their content to the information required in product design and advertising projects, I believe other industries can modify the creative brief based on their needs. For example, digital design projects can use the creative brief to include project guidelines about the digital specifications stated by the client.

The most important outcome of the creative brief is that it should be clear and well-understood by the project stakeholders, including the client, the creative team, the marketing team, and upper management. Therefore all of these parties should contribute to the writing of this document.

Rafiq Elmansy

I'm a design lecturer, author, and researcher. Currently, I'm a lecturer and researcher at Northumbria University in the UK where I teach design thinking, design process, design management, and brand management. Also, I read design with my PhD research focuses on design as a driver for medical innovation in patient-centred healthcare technology. Previously, I taught at the American University in Cairo for four years. My teaching included graphic design, digital design (Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, etc.), digital branding, user experience design, and UI design. I am a fellow for the Higher Education Academy (HEA), a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (RS), an accredited lecturer from the British Charter Institute of IT (BSC), and an Adobe Certified Instructor. I am a jury member in design competitions including the Adobe Design Achievement Awards, A'Design Awards and Poster for Tomorrow. My industrial experience includes more than 15 years working digital design, branding, and media. As a published author, my industrial and academic experience reflect on my list of published books and articles. List of my published books is available on Amazon. And a list of my published articles available on my and my design website (

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