When working with clients to perform a creative service, taking the time to establish a creative brief is crucial. Whether your task is to create a website, marketing campaign or anything else, clear guidelines will result in a more efficient project and a better result for your client. 

This guide will answer the following questions:

  • What is a client brief?
  • Why do you need a client brief?
  • What does a good client brief need to include?
  • What makes a successful brief?

What is a client brief?

A client brief is a recorded document that clients create to guide a creative project using clear guidelines and goals. In the brief, your client explains the ins and outs of a project and shares their vision for how they want the end result to look. The brief should also describe their overall brand identity, explain their brand guidelines, and set expectations regarding timelines and strategy. 

Although, clients often don’t know what they need to include in a brief. So you might need to help them understand and describe their problems efficiently. In these situations, creating the client brief becomes a collaboration between you to ensure you get the details you need to complete the project successfully.

Why do you need a client brief?

Client briefs ensure both you and your client understand and manage expectations, so you stay on the same page. Having a brief also helps you stay on track and follow the instructions you agreed upon at the beginning of a project. (Side note: always go through the brief and agree on everything before starting to avoid getting your wires crossed later.)

Once you’ve created the brief and agreed on the terms and expectations, both you and your client can refer back to it at any point during the project to help you stay on track. Having a centralised location for your goals and guidelines is essential for you to do your work to meet the client’s needs and deliver the project perfectly. 

On the flip side, completing a project without taking the time to create a detailed client brief could end up costing you time and money. That’s because failing to articulate your goals and requirements effectively will likely lead to the project needing costly changes to get right.

What does a good client brief need to include?

The more clear details a client brief has, the more likely you are to create a product that they love. A successful client brief should include the following:

Project summary

This section basically describes what needs to be done, when it needs to be done, and who will complete the task. The project summary outlines the project and company goals and other helpful information like company background, branding information, market position, and so on. It’s also good to explain how the project will help the client reach their company goals. 

Target audience

A successful brief also needs details about the client’s target audience. If your client doesn’t already have ideal customer profiles, you can help them create one. Add as many details as possible about the target audience’s demographics, buyer habits, likes and dislikes, pain points, and so on. Here are some questions you can ask to define the target audience:

  • Who is your client’s customer?
  • What age/sex/marital status/income bracket/cultural group are their customers?
  • Do customers buy for themselves or someone else?
  • What are they interested in?
  • How often do they need your client’s product/service?

Many briefs also focus on targeting new customers that clients expect to serve due to changes in the market and alterations in demand. If that’s the case, make sure it’s clear in the brief.

Competitive positioning

Knowing how your client measures up against its competitors is another crucial element to completing a successful project. So, this section should list the main competitors, including what they do, who they serve, and how your client is different. Understanding what sets your client apart from its competitors will help you create a product that highlights their strengths.

Communication strategy

This section explains how you’ll get your client’s message to their target customers through the website, print material, marketing campaign, or whatever the task is. Here, it’s vital to examine the message you need to convey to the audience and work with your client to develop the right tone of voice. One way to do this is by brainstorming words that relate to their message. 

Measurability

A good client brief will also explain how you’ll measure the project’s effectiveness. Most importantly, you need to mention who’s responsible for tracking the performance. Do you include a process for measuring a project’s success, or does that responsibility fall on your client?

Project specifics

This section is where you get into the nitty-gritty of the project and detail everything you need to know. Include as much detail as possible, including format, scale, size, design, keywords, etc. It’s also good to include useful resources, such as branding information about colours and fonts, examples of similar projects that the client loves and hates, and so on. You might also want to include the budget, timeframe, and deliverables. 

What makes a successful brief?

The key to creating an effective client brief is to add all the details you need to start on a project with clear parameters to work your creative magic within. A successful brief also helps your client solidify what they want done and the results they expect to see. In short, an effective brief gives your client the tools to communicate their vision to you and helps you bring it to life.

Keep track of client projects with a simple accounting app

After completing a successful client project, it’s time to invoice them so they can pay you. Having an effective system in place to request and accept payments can help you get paid faster and free up time to reinvest in your business.

Countingup is the business current account with built-in accounting software that allows you to manage all your financial data in one place. The app allows you to create and send unlimited customised invoices with a few taps on your phone. You can add your logo, branding, and other elements so clients instantly recognise that it came from you. 

As soon as a customer pays you, Countingup will match the payment to its relevant invoice. This way, you keep your records organised with minimal effort. 

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