Graphic Design 101 — The Creative Brief

First things first: the Creative Brief.

So, what is a creative brief?

Think of a creative brief as a sort of map that will lead the team’s creative thinking from problems to solutions. Now, more than ever, creative briefs are a necessary first step. They provide a skeleton or blueprint for your creative approach, which includes well-identified and well-articulated summary of the key factors and variables that can impact a project. It also includes things like client preferences, information about competitors, business and brand goals, and project particulars. Attempting a project without a brief is like going on a journey without a map.

A creative brief will answer the following questions:

  • How is the project defined? What is to be created?
  • What is the purpose of the project?
  • What are the challenges, if any?
  • Who is the audience (both business and end-user) and why will they be interested?
  • Where will the end product be used?
  • What are the brand guidelines and how much of the brand should apply to the project?
  • Who are the competitors?
  • What are the client’s specific preferences/likes/dislikes?
  • When is the project due? What are the expectations both internally for the team and externally for the client? What are the milestones along the way? (if the project is multi-faceted)

Who creates a creative brief?

It is extremely important that the creator of the creative brief has a true knowledge and context of what is needed for the project. There should be a level of insight into how the deliverable will be used and the expectations of the client. The creator of the brief should truly understand the goals of the client and should hint at the beginnings of creative strategy so that the team can utilize this information to further develop creative possibilities and ideas.

According to Communication Arts, ( here is a sampling of Creative Brief content:

1. Background summary. Who is the client? What is the product or service? What are their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT)? What does this client value? What does this brand stand for? What is their position on social responsibility, culture and technology? Can the client provide any research and reports that help us understand their current situation?

2. Overview. What is the project? What are we creating and why? Why does the client need this project? What are the client’s key business challenges? What’s the real opportunity? Are there any emerging ideas and trends to consider?3. Drivers. What is our goal for this project? What are we trying to achieve? What is the purpose of our work? What are our top three objectives? What are the essential consumer, brand and category insights? What thought, feeling or action can we bring to life? How will success be measured?

4. Audience. Who are we talking to? What do they think of the client? What will make the client more appealing to them? Why should they care about this brand? What inspires, motivates, interests and amuses them? Who are they talking to? How can we help them better connect with their own community? What causes buzz in their world? What competes for their attention?

5. Competitors. Who is the competition? SWOT analysis on them? What differentiates the client from them? What are they telling the audience that we should be telling them? How and where do they engage with the audience? Why are they really better (or not)?

6. Tone. How should we be communicating? What adjectives describe the desired feeling, personality or approach? Discuss how content (images/words), flow of information (narrative), interaction (physical/virtual) and user behaviors (pro/con) should affect mode and style.

7. Message. What are we saying with this piece exactly? How can the client back that up? Are the words already developed or do we develop them? What do we want audiences to take away?

8. Visuals. Are we developing new images or using existing ones? If we are creating them, who, what, where are we shooting and why? Should we consider illustrations and/or charts? What type of thematic iconography makes sense and is appealing? How do existing style guides and brand manuals affect the project?

9. Details. Any mandatory info? List of deliverables? Pre-conceived ideas? Format parameters? Limitations and restrictions? Timeline, budget? The best delivery media? And why?

10. People. Who are we reporting to? Who will approve this work? Who needs to be informed of our progress? By what means?

Managing the Creative Brief

Of course, once the brief is created, it should be a reference point throughout the project and managed as such. As a common ground, the brief becomes the center of the project and grounding point for ideas that may stray too far.  Creative directors, art directors and account leads alike should look to the brief as their map to success and any changes to the direction should be noted for all to see!

Post by Lauren Innella, Principal & Creative Director

A Few To-Do’s When It Comes to Website Creation

essex_website_design1by Katie Cannon

Creating a website can be a fun and inspiring project, but can also become a headache if the right steps are not taken. Having an online presence is more important than ever. With more individuals beginning the buying cycle online, an easily findable, informative ans functional website can make a world of difference.

At Zer0 to 5ive, we find developing an effective website is a tightrope walk between creativity and delivering up to the standards mandated by your client. Remember you have been hired by your client and the ultimate creative vision is their’s. This does not mean you cannot be creative or engaging. Communicate the client’s key messages in a professional, yet original and innovative way will help set your site apart from the millions of other .coms in the space.

Here are a few tips I have learned from experience that can help you take your website development to a new level:

• Connect with your client. Get into their mind – what are they looking for? What image and message do they want their website to convey about their company? Connecting with the client from the start is crucial – getting on the same creative page as your client will save you countless headaches down the road and make each stage of design, development and implementation a breeze. Ask them for sample art, photos and other sites to draw inspiration from

• Luckily, there are millions of new Web 2.0 features available for free to no cost. Investigate what features and widgets would help you best achieve your client’s goals. Think about what you can provide to your client that will keep visitors engages. What can you present that will make your client standout in the marketplace? How can you help give your client the WOW factor? Consider social media, embedded videos, click to chat, rss feeds blogs… the list goes on and on.

• Your home or landing page is the first page a consumer sees and without engagement, site visitors will quickly abandoned the site. This is why creativity is so important. Being able to engage or interest the visitor immediately will go a long way. Think outside the box and have fun with the design. Yet, keep in mind that the website should still come across professional, clean and innovative.

• Communicate with your client. Make sure you understand what they want and how they want it done. Website development is a long process – not having a set communication method will only make the process longer. A timeline is crucial during the site launch preparation. Have weekly update meetings to ensure you and your clients are on the same page and creating a friendly repartee with clients can help plant the seeds for future working opportunities.

• Keep it search-friendly. Now-a-day’s an overwhelming number of consumers search through today’s major search engines. If you are building your site in an outdated language implementing other elements that impede search engine rankings, your site will be impossible to find, this means you are missing out on some major dollars! Come download our FREE SEO white paper to learn more about how you can garner visibility on search engine result pages.

• Provide ongoing customer service – it’s all about the experience, and working well together. Your job is not done after launch. A good web-development team will continue to be on hand to assist with any potential bugs, upgrades or staff difficulties.

• Double check all of your work! No website should ever be launched without making sure all your i’s are dotted and t’s are crossed! Use all the resources available to you to proofread site content. Provide internal links to appropriate pages and be sure that every page can be found every time.

If you understand the importance of communicating and connecting with your client, then you should have no problem designing and launching a website together successfully!

Katie Cannon is a Marketing Strategist ant Zer0 to 5ive

A New Day for Airclic

by Marybeth Sheppard


Congratulations to our client, Airclic, for the recent launch of their new website and corporate strategy.

Airclic develops mobile software products that dramatically improve the performance of an organization’s supply chain, logistics and field services operations. Airclic’s products save time, money and improve customer satisfaction.

Earlier this year, Airclic saw the opportunity to take advantage of SaaS-based solutions to further drive adoption of mobile software. Their recent launch includes the first of several SaaS-based products.

This marks a major milestone for Airclic and will be an instrumental element for building and sustaining considerable growth and success. With Zer0 to 5ive’s help, Airclic was able to create a new and engaging brand image, promote their core technology to multiple markets and tell a more compelling story.

See for yourself at

Marybeth is a Principal at Zer0 to 5ive

How Much Should a Small Business Website Cost?

I was recently asked to answer that question as part of an article that ran in the NY Report — and as you might guess, the answer is “it depends.”

Web sites run the gamut from strictly brochure-ware with little interaction to fully interactive, highly complex data gathering entities. At the heart of every web site development, however, are the questions: what are my objectives and who is my audience.

Check out the article written by my friend and former boss and mentor, Paul McKeon. Also, don’t forget to download our SEO white paper, so that you can get maximum “bang” for your online “buck”!

NY Report: The Cost of a Small Business Website

Post by Zer0 to 5ive CEO Michelle Pujadas