Understanding creative briefs

Finding and discovering the question is key when making a creative brief

Design thinking. Those two words have been bouncing around in my head a lot lately, and I keep seeing them pop up on the internet (http://stanford.io/2fWTcB8), on blogs, in movies and at school. I even signed up to participate in the design thinking semester Elon is offering in the spring.

After watching the video “Briefly,” one of the most important takeaways I got out of it was about discovering the right question, an important component of design thinking. Often, when people come to designers, and even when designers collaborate with someone else, people are looking for answers. They’re determined they’ve already found the perfect problem and instead are looking for a solution.

But the problem with this is that people often have found the wrong problem. They haven’t spent the time talking to and understanding their audience, so they don’t know what their audience needs. And you can’t find a good solution without understanding your clients.

Creative briefs then, must contain the right question. They require thought, analysis, research and a familiarity with the users. This question should be able to inspire and interest the designers, and send them in the right direction.

Creative briefs must be revised. They’re fluid documents that change, get revisited and re-conceptualized as research comes in and begins to illuminate the real problem that needs to be solved.

A brief that contains a well thought out and well-written question will contain everything a designer needs. And it will prevent a designer from spending time coming up with an unnecessary solution that will frustrate both the designer and the client.

It’s easy to take what a client gives you and create a mediocre solution that may make the company happy enough. But a designer needs to assess and collaborate and ask their own questions so they can help do the best job they can, not just for the client, but for the client’s audience.