Logo Design Guide 1 of 5: The Creative Brief

Studio Function
Studio Function
Published in
5 min readJan 22, 2016


This is the first in a 5-part series featuring chapters from our Logo Design Guide ebook, released every Friday until it’s all gone. Can’t wait for the next section? Download the entire PDF now at https://gumroad.com/l/HmceP

Section 1
The Creative Brief

The brief is an essential document as it describes the design problem and provides the means to measure the success of future creative work. It’s the strategy roadmap for the duration of the project. The creative brief helps to calibrate the designer’s mind to the task, and also holds the client accountable to an approved creative direction. It should be used when it comes time to review design concepts, and will help to diminish the effects of personal bias.

This document also defines boundaries that are beneficial to the designer’s creative process. Limitless opportunity can sometimes inflict a paralysis of choice. But knowing where not to step can clearly illustrate the path forward.

Essential elements

In general, the creative brief should cover the following bases:

Describe the company

Its history, personality, and values
This&That Inc. is a luxury design and lifestyle brand for the cat connoisseur.
Founded in 2014, the company has grown into the destination for design-obsessed cat owners who are looking to invest in high-quality feline furniture and goods. This&That is the Chanel of cats.

Describe the task at hand

The challenge, restrictions, and project deliverables
This&That requires a new logo and supporting identity system for the launch of their online store. In addition to digital applications, a 1-colour version of the mark will be required for laser engraving on wood and metal. An icon version of the logo must also be considered for use in various social media properties.

Describe the target audience

Tailor design solutions to specific audiences for maximum effectiveness
The primary audience is 30–50 year old cat-obsessed professionals in North America who are willing to invest in high-quality, design-focused objects for their cats. These aficionados are tech-savvy and engaged in interior design trends, always seeking the latest and greatest; they are split 70% female and 30% male.

Outline the main communication goals

The objectives for the work and priority of main messages
All deliverables should position the company as the high-end choice in feline goods, represent a commitment to animals and the environment, and reflect a dedication to quality and craft. Though This&That should project a feeling of luxury, communications should also be approachable and speak to the audience in an honest way.

Assess the competitive landscape

Knowing other companies in the same space helps the designer intelligently position any new work
Local competitors include… Global competitors include… This&That is also indirectly competing with luxury furniture brands, such as…

Provide a high-level creative direction/key concepts

A succinct roadmap for the conceptual foundation of the work, which can sometimes be achieved through a list of adjectives created with the client
All brand communications should feel: confident, refined, luxe, well crafted, and vibrant. Avoid cutesy, whimsical or traditional cat iconography (no whiskers, paw prints, cat ears, etc.)

Steps to a successful brief

The appropriate path to a creative brief depends on the size of the project and the expectations of the client. The exact approach varies, but the general process stays the same:

1. Ask questions

  • IRL discovery meeting/interviews with stakeholders
  • Questionnaires/forms, user interviews or surveys
  • Learn about company, goals, values, audience
  • Understand how the company wants to be positioned visually

2. Review answers

  • Process the responses
  • Identify key points, eliminate redundancy
  • Distill into a single document (email, PDF, website, PPT, shared doc, wood carving, etc.)

3. Arrange and present the important points

  • Use phrases, sentences, bullets, infographics
  • Reference visual examples, read between the lines
  • Submit for client review

4. Revise and get approval

  • Incorporate feedback, embrace clarity
  • Insist on client sign-off before design commencement

A rough framework

The quality of the brief is determined by the quality of the questions asked. Depending on the size of the project or expectations of the client, the creative brief can range from a simple email to an elaborate, multi-page document. Consider some of the following questions (this is by no means an exhaustive list):

Company Background
Who is the company? What is the product or service? What are the core values and what does the brand stand for?

Project Overview
What is the purpose of the project? Does the project face any specific challenges or restrictions? What are the project deliverables?

Content & Messaging
What is the project trying to achieve? What are the main communication objectives? What is the priority of key messages?

Target Audience(s)
Who are the primary, secondary, and incidental audiences? What is their current relationship with the product or service? Why should they care about the product or service?

Who else exists in the competitive landscape? What are their differentiating factors? How are they speaking to their audience with art direction and copywriting?

Voice & Tone
What are the desired adjectives to describe future communications? What are the goals for the art direction and visual design?

Crafting and delivering a creative brief

Each section of this ebook provides a Good or Awesome approach to a specific part of the logo design process.



  • Prepare a Google doc questionnaire or Google form
  • Have a discovery phone call to review answers or ask additional questions


  • Hold a multi-day discovery session to fully explore various discovery questions
  • Conduct independent stakeholder interviews to further elaborate business/communication goals
  • Send out user/customer surveys
  • Interview members of the target audience
  • Perform comprehensive competitive landscape research

Creative Brief


  • Email a basic creative brief for client approval, state the following:
    – the design challenge
    – communication goals
    – general audience profile
    – competitive landscape
    – 5 adjectives for creative direction


  • Prepare a PDF or web page to present the creative brief
  • Consider including the following sections:
    – company profile
    – statement of the design challenge
    – communication objectives
    – list of key ideas to express through design
    – priority of messages
    – list of adjectives for creative direction
    – detailed audience profiles (primary/secondary)
    – visual mood boards
    – competitor analysis (local/global/indirect)
Illustrations by Sam Island

Read on Medium

1 of 5: The Creative Brief
2 of 5: Logo Design
3 of 5: Visual Identity Design
4 of 5: Notes on Presenting
5 of 5: Revisions & Delivery


Download the eBook PDF



Studio Function
Studio Function

We’re a Toronto-based design studio focused on the propagation of meaningful solutions to communication design challenges.