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.

Dr Rafiq Elmansy

I'm a design academic, author and advisor. I taught for both undergraduate and postgraduate design programmes in three universities: Wrexham Glyndwr University, Northumbria University and The American University in Cairo. I contributed to building four design programmes. My experience includes design management, design thinking, interactive design, evidence-based design and design for healthcare. I'm the inventor of the Adherence Canvas, an evidence-based design tool to improve patient adherence to health tech. Additionally, I wrote several books on design and technology. I am the founder of I am a fellow and mentor for the Higher Education Academy (HEA) and the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA), an accredited lecturer from the British Charter Institute of IT (BSC), and an Adobe Education Leader. My industry experience involves 20 years in interactive design and multimedia design.

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