What is a Project Brief? (Part 2)

March 12, 2020

written by
Barbara O Stephenson

We’ll be continuing where we left off from the previous section in which we explained the first three requirements of the project brief: 1. general information, 2. the brand, and 3. competition. If you haven’t already read the first post, be sure you check it out before moving on to these next three questions.

4. Audience

Audience comes next. The key thing to remember is usually, you are not your customer. Who is your current audience, do you want to keep them, or do you want to change who they are? This is important for long term business strategy. You want to make sure that your long term business goals tie into the project. You don’t want us to focus on your current audience of women ages 18 to 25 if in 3 years you’d like it to include women up to 50 and non-binary genders. And along with brand guidelines, this also keeps our focus on your customer’s preferences over yours. That’s the biggest issue we see here- you are not your client. 

  • Please describe your current audience demographic. What are their pain points you’re attempting to address? Do you have any concerns regarding this demographic? 
  • What is your sales cycle and timeline for engagements with this audience? Why do they hire you and what is the process?
  • Please describe your ideal target audience/ the audience segments you aspire to reach in detail?
  • Do you want to change your current audience and if so, what is the perceived benefit?

5. Visual brand expression

Then it’s about visual brand expressions and brings previous question #2 into the real world. Your values create an emotional connection with your audience- if you want them to or not. We ask questions both esoteric and literal to form a mental picture of how you present yourself to the world and how that works for your values/goals. You may say you don’t like your brand colors of pink and magenta but that provides zero baseline for us until you also tell us that your ideal spokesman is John Wayne. Then we can see the disconnect. 

This process also points out unrecognized divisions in your team. For example, we once had someone describe themselves as Neiman Marcus and a member of the same team say they were Target. Two very different viewpoints that needed to be addressed before we could move forward with branding. Clearly, they needed to talk.

  • If you were a car/magazine/store it would be: please name analogous entity and (most importantly) the reason for choosing it.
  1. Car:
  2. Magazine:
  3. Store:
  4. Spokesperson:
  • Do you have brand guidelines? If yes, is there any part of your current look and feel, logo, color palettes, typography and other brand elements you do NOT want to keep? Why?
  • Is there any part of your current look and feel, logo, color palettes, typography and other brand elements you do want to keep? Why?
  • Understanding your personal esthetic, please give us your top 5 favorite brands and why? Please provide examples of websites and campaigns you like that are NOT in your industry.

6. Content

Content expression and editorial schedule is key to any marketing strategy and supports the visual brand expression. Do you have the internal capacity to support future growth or is this a weakness that needs support? Most clients think they can do their own content and 9 times out of 10, they fail to meet project milestones. It’s hard to be objective when doing things for yourself.

  • Do you have Tone and Voice guidelines?
  • Do you have an editorial calendar that outlines regular updates, who is responsible, what platforms you’re using, and what departments are being supported?
  • Do you have a copy writer and have they ever worked with SEO?
  • Do you have photography or video? Do you have a contact sheet of all available assets? Are they high res?
  • Do you have other graphics, PDFs, white-papers, or offline collateral such as a sales deck? Please list out your collateral in detail.
  • List out any collateral that you would like to add to your toolbox. Email signatures, business cards, digital sales decks, etc.

For any project, it is key to nail these points in order to be successful in telling a brand’s story. Identify the group of people you would like to target and pay attention to appealing to their emotions not only through visual storytelling, but also the intangible like your culture, values, tone and voice. And remember, it doesn’t stop there. Having in place a long-term strategy alongside great design will create a strong foundation for brand growth. Stay tuned for our final post where we’ll wrap up this series by addressing marketing and technology details!