Join John McWade for an in-depth discussion in this video Developing a creative brief, part of Before & After Case Study: Small Business Identity Redesign.
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- First step is to develop a creative brief. And I'm gonna stop right here and acknowledge that we designers love to design. And it's so easy to just dive in and start making pictures. Sometimes that works. Sometimes we come up with cool stuff out of the blue, but more often than not, it takes us off on a goose chase, or to a dead end, and we dead end for two reasons. One, is that we don't know enough about the project, and two, is that we don't have enough imagery in our minds.
So, the way to avoid this is to be systematic about the process. And if you're thinking, no, I just wanna design, well, I understand the feeling, and you can go ahead. But the designer who goes about this in a more disciplined way is gonna get the results. So back to the brief. We're gonna make a list. Start with the business. Then its audience. Then its assets. Then its limitations, like this.
You wanna first describe the business. This is a small, custom framing store, with a handful of employees, that does custom framing, matting, shadowbox construction, and other kinds of very artistic framework. This is not a, prefab, cookie-cutter frame shop. Two, describe the audience. Who are we designing for? Its audience includes current customers, future customers, employees, local galleries, local businesses, and online media, like Facebook and Pinterest.
Why current customers? You know? They already know us. A couple of reasons. As customers, we like to associate with the cool thing, and a cool logo represents that. We also like reinforcement that we've made a good buying decision, and the logo represents that, too. Why your employees? I'd say it's especially important for them. That's because your brand is your identity. So in part, it's their identity, too.
It can provide a sense of place, a sense of belonging, a sense of this is who we are. It's a connecting, unifying thing. And if it's well done, it just amplifies all of those qualities. We like being part of cool things. Third on the list are assets. Assets are what you have to work with. In this case, the client has a few. The resources to buy typefaces, to build a website, and to have material printed, including signage.
Number four are our limitations. Limitations are the opposite of assets. The biggest one in this case, is that Newburyport Framers has no on-staff graphic designer to maintain a design plan. It's big, because we won't be around to do it either. Ideally, the designer will always continue to be involved with the brand, but with a small business, this is so often not the case. So, an important part of the brief is that we'll need to design a logo that's strong enough to carry its own weight, no matter where it appears, plus the weight of other things. In otherwords, it'll need to look good and function well, even if it's misapplied. There are ways to do this.
Next is to list what we want our logo to be and do. For example, we want it to relate to framing. This sounds obvious, but it's actually arbitrary. A logo doesn't need to have anything in common with its product. What does an apple, specifically a Macintosh apple, have to do with a computer? I mean, really? Or a phone? Or music? Two, we'd like it to have a local identity.
Frame shops are everywhere, but Newburyport is unique. It's not Los Angeles. When you have something unique, take advantage of it. Three, we want it to be ownable. Ownable means unique to Newburyport Framers. If you use clipart, or stock photography, your logo will have at least some qualities that are shared by others. How important is that to you? If you're local like Newburyport Framers, it probably doesn't matter. Chances are you won't see your image elsewhere. But if you're regional, or national, or global, or if you need a copyright, different story. You can't get away with a stock image.
We can use a common typeface. For example, many company logos use Helvetica type. We don't get the companies confused, because each context is different. Different names, different meanings. And four, we want a sense of artistry and craftsmanship. We want the logo to project a sense of high-end, and we want to instill desire for our product.
These are abstractions, tough to design. We can feel these things, but what do they look like? That's what we're about to discover.