One of the most valuable assets a designer can have at the beginning of any project is a design brief. As a younger designer I often set out to work on projects based on a very loose brief of a conversation or two with clients. Needless to say, this often resulted in many solutions for which clients didn’t quite have much taste. To designers just taking their first step into the freelance world, my advice is to compile some sort of a brief before starting work on a project so that you can deliver a great solution to satisfy your client’s needs.

Working with a brief helps us to work more efficiently. For us, time is always of the essence. In fact, not just for us, but for our clients as well. The faster we can deliver the solution to the client the faster they can get their business running, as well as the faster we’ll make them happy customers. Working with a well composed brief leaves little room for error. They give us the guidance we need in order to find the best solutions. The client can outline exactly what they’re looking for and it gives us a good idea as to how we should deliver.

Briefs can stem from a variety of ways, such as an email from a client, a phone call, or a face to face meeting. Knowing which questions to ask in order to elicit necessary answers are vital to composing a useful brief. Note taking is extremely important as well since chances are we may not remember everything that was said during the meeting. Personally, having notes next to the page on which I’m sketching helps to evoke ideas from my mind. Maybe the same technique can work for other designers as well.

As always, as designers we strive for the best solution for our clients. That’s what we do as problem solvers. Having a brief close at hand helps us keep in line with what is expected of us. It’s extremely easy to get side tracked in the search of an innovative idea. However, sometimes our clients might not want innovation. Sometimes, a simple, typographic logo is what they need.

In my younger years of designing I often steered away from the client’s needs and ended up taking their project into my own hands and doing things the way I saw fit. Sometimes, this might be appropriate. Other times, it is often less stressful to be straightforward and stick to the brief.

As many experienced designers will advocate, using a brief is one of the best things any designer can do. Something so simple proves to be extremely effective, especially in this creative industry where time waits for no one. Taking some time to have a solid brief before any major work is done truly helps to make the job simpler, more efficient and more enjoyable.