Want Freedom as a Designer? Write a Great Creative Brief

February 16, 2017

How to get freedom as a designer and avoid a micromanaging client.

No designer wants an overbearing, micromanaging client. After all, designers are creative by both name and by nature, and want the freedom to do what they are paid to do.

But you have to see things from the client's perspective as well. It’s their product or service you are designing for, something they care deeply about. They want the end result to be great and are a bit skittish about fully trusting someone they might have just met.

So how do you ease their tension and gain their trust, earning you the freedom you crave?

The answer, according to LinkedIn Learning Instructor Terry Lee Stone: write a great creative brief.

Why a great creative brief gives you freedom as a designer

In her LinkedIn Learning course aptly named Running a Design Business: Creative Briefs, Stone dedicates a lesson to this exact issue. In her experience as a designer, she found the secret to quelling client trepidation is working with them closely on a creative brief.

“To get more freedom later on in the creative process, I say give your clients more control in the beginning of the process,” Stone said in her course. “Convince them to channel their energy into helping develop a great creative brief, and then trusting you to act on it.”

Stone recommend all designers to work closely with the client during the creative brief process and obviously have them approve it before moving forward. The more input you can get from them at the beginning and the tighter you can make the brief, the better.

Additionally, the more research you can do – whether it be market research or at least using the product yourself – before you write the brief, the stronger the brief. If the client can trust that you “get” the product or service, the more hands off they’ll be in the design process.

Sometimes, a client will come to you with a creative brief, which is a great start, Stone said. But designers should still take their time to write their own creative brief to ensure all questions are answered and both parties are on the same page.

Bottom line, Chinese philosopher Sun Tzu once said, “Every battle is won or lost before it’s ever fought.” In this case, if you want to avoid a battle entirely and have freedom during the design process, gain the client's trust early.

And that’s best done via a creative brief.

What's the secret to writing great creative briefs? Watch Stone’s course today on writing one, which includes creative brief templates you can use for your own projects.