The changing formula of a design brief

“Gus, how do I brief your team?”

“You can’t. It’s not about briefing my team. Actually we’re going to have a conversation. Let’s understand, what is the opportunity and what are you trying to do?”

Gustavo Machado - Intuit Quickbooks UK

Gustavo Machado is Head of Design at Intuit Quickbooks UK. In a recent interview with him, this quote stood out to us as golden nugget of information. It got us thinking about a dilemma that many agencies face – the changing role (and death?) of the design brief.

The design brief as we know it

Traditionally, a design brief is a document written by a client and sent over to a designer/team/agency. When done well and written with some expertise, briefs can be a very effective reference. However, the rigid format can cause more harm than good when done badly. Generic language and in-concise information can often lead to a disconnect between client and agency. A brief comes at the beginning of a project, so it’s important to make sure everyone is definitely on the same page.

There are plenty of templates and blog posts out there for you to find the ‘perfect’ briefing document. We don’t believe in this approach.

The design brief as we want to know it

Gus’s quote above represents a vital change when it comes to briefs. At Ambition, we see ourselves as an open and accessible agency – so why not change the way that briefs are put together in order to achieve something that’s much more beneficial for both parties? We believe a brief should have a collaborative approach. And it’s a great learning opportunity for for everyone involved.

The purpose of a design brief is to explain a problem and set boundaries such as timescale and budget. We believe there’s also a disconnect here when clients can be tempted to spell out the problem, and therefore prescribe a way it should be solved. One of the top reasons for hiring an agency is to gain their expertise – a design team has a lot to offer, including in the initial discussion. Lateral thinking and creative problem-solving that they inherently use will make sure your results are customer and human focused.

The role and format of the brief is changing, and with the creative disciplines expanding, it’s more important than ever to have conversations and take more of a collaborative approach. It enables both sides to understand and therefore solve each problem much better. Look out for 3 tips for creating a design brief in next week’s blog post.

We would love to open up a conversation with you – why not book a 15 minute call with us to discuss the next steps? Drop us a message here, or call the studio on 01344 888721 to set up a meeting with Gerry or Gary.

Lana Fowler - Junior Designer

After completing an internship in Denmark, Lana joined the Ambition team. She loves the creative thinking part of the design process and has a personal soft-spot for print design. Her experiences have inspired her to forge her own path and she is passionate about inspiring others to do the same. Read more about that on her blog, The Juniors.

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