Starting a new project, or business is a super exciting time, and it’s easy to get swept up and want to get started with the creative work as soon as possible. But it’s really important to sit down and work out what it is you want from your project and put it into a fully formed creative brief that will not only help you clarify your vision but also help your creative team deliver something that does what you want.

A creative brief is a kind of roadmap for your project. It lays out the background of your company, your aims and your audience and then paves the way for where you want to be going in the future. A good creative brief will outline a project’s aims, audience and expected deliverables.

These are my tips as someone who receives creative briefs as a designer, and also as someone who has had to write them in my day job working in marketing and communications.

WHERE SHOULD YOU START?

So, you have a great idea, right? Have you tested it? Do other people think it’s a great idea, and more importantly is it something people want or need? Before you even start writing your brief make sure you’ve done your research. Knowing the market and your idea is going to help you so much when you get down to writing your brief.

Then spend some time evaluating what it is you want from this project. If there are other people working in your team, sit down with them and see what they think and come to a conclusion together so you’re at least all starting from the same point.

Before you start a creative brief you need to know what other people think of your idea, and more importantly what you think about it.

SO, YOU KNOW WHAT YOU WANT, WHAT SHOULD YOU INCLUDE IN THE BRIEF?

  • A quick bit of background to your company
  • A paragraph about your project’s objectives
  • A short paragraph about who your audience are, include any demographic information you have and any insights about what their wants and needs are.
  • Your core message a few points about why it benefits to your audience
  • The themes or images you imagine the creative work including and how important/literal that inclusion needs to be.
  • The primary call-to-action or takeaway message you want to be included in the campaign
  • Any examples of projects you’ve done in the past which have been successful or you’ve liked, and any projects you’ve seen and want the creative team to be inspired by.
  • Brand and copy style guidelines (the master doc of fonts, colours, logos, copy tone, grammar guides and other elements that your brand uses). You don’t need to type all of this out in the brief, you can either attach alongside the brief, or give clear instructions on where to find it.
  • Links or access to any background research and assets (e.g. photos of your products) the creatives might need or find useful.
  • The specifications for the final product: file types, sizes, formats, etc. as well as where they need to be sent.
  • All of your contact information, including your preferred means of contact, and an alternative contact in case you are away.
  • The full list of things you need making. If it’s a long list, put them in priority order.
  • Clear information about both launch dates and due dates for drafts (if these can be flexible let your team know), as well as information on how long you will take in getting draft approval back. This helps your creative team plan, and allows them to come up with ideas that will fit the timescale you have.
  • You might also want to include what you’re hoping to achieve in terms of a return for the campaign, and whether that’s revenue, or views, or awareness etc.
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This might seem like quite a long list, but it’s best to be explicit about your expectations – there’s nothing worse than getting halfway through a project and someone saying “oh but I had imagined it would include ducks, it really needs to have a duck in there somewhere” and nowhere in the brief is there a mention of a mallard.

WHAT DO YOU DO AFTER YOU’VE WRITTEN IT?

First, you need to edit it down to around 2 sides if possible. However, amazing it might be, no one wants to read a 50 page document (sorry). Just make sure you’re not cutting out something you really want to be included in the creative work.

Then put it down for a day, or longer, and come back to it. Ask yourself is this what I really want to achieve? Is there anything I’ve missed off? Is there anything that isn’t important in the long run?

Once you’re 100% happy with it. Send it over to your creatives and have a conversation about it. That conversation is absolutely key. It will give you chance to make sure everyone is on the same page, and understands the brief in the same way, and it gives your creative team chance to ask questions and challenge the brief. Clear communication is central to a successful project that everyone is happy with in the end.

THE MOST IMPORTANT THING TO REMEMBER

Writing a good brief takes time but putting the effort into nailing your project vision early in the process will save you time in the long run, and lead to a much more successful creative outcome. Use your brief to guide you, but don’t be afraid to re-evaluate it as you go if something changes, just make sure you’re communicating with everyone involved.

I probably spend too much of my time on youtube, but there’s so much great content out there and it’s so easy to get sucked into the blackhole that is the automatic play function. The more time I spend on there, the more favourites I find. I wanted to share some of those discoveries with you to expand your subscription boxes and your creative inspiration.

 

ARTISTS AND DESIGNERS

NATASHA NUTTALL

Natasha was the first design youtuber I watch and subscribed to, and her videos kind of led to a whole day of design-tube binge watching. Her videos cover every and anything design-y and they’re awesome. I’ve particularly loved all of her London recommendations and vlogs, as someone who lives in the big smoke. Her unboxings and reviews are ace as well, as, in fact, is all of the rest of her content. If you like this list, Natasha has two really great lists of creative youtubers on her blog, which really helped get me into the creative side of youtube (This is the first one, and here’s the second).

HOLLIE ARNETT

Hollie is a designer from New Zealand, and she just seems like the loveliest person (very much on my list of people I wish I could be friends with list). As well as some really useful advice videos, Hollie also does the occasional graphic design challenge on her channel, which are some of my favourite videos to watch because you get to see someone’s work process in hyperdrive.

ROBIN CLONTS

Robin’s paintings are absolutely stunning, but that’s not why I love her channel. I love her channel because she’s hilarious. She makes pure comedy gold out of the things every artist has thought, or felt, or done, or had said to them.

FURRY LITTLE PEACH

Sha’an d’Anthes AKA Furry Little Peach is an Australian illustrator and artist living and working in Australia, which is kind of my dream. Her work is gorgeous and I absolutely love her studio tours and getting to watch her work. If you’re looking for some really lovely relaxed design videos that will leave you in a good mood, I highly recommend checking her out. Fingers crossed she posts some more videos soon!

THE SAD GHOST CLUB

I love the Sad Ghost Club wherever they are. If you don’t know them already, The Sad Ghost Club is a club for anyone who’s ever felt sad or lost, which is kind of everyone at some point. Their youtube channel is still quite new, but their sketchbook club is so lovely.

HOUSE THAT LARS BUILT

As well as being one of my favourite blogs to read, The House that Lars Built (AKA Brittany Watson Jepsen) also makes some of my absolute favourite videos on youtube. They are beautifully shot and produced craft videos. I feel like calling them craft videos underplays it, perhaps aspirational DIY or mind blowing make and do projects might be better, either way everything Brittany makes is stunning and makes me want to be better.

FRANNERD

I’ve been a huge fan of Fran’s illustrations for absolutely ages, so when I discovered she had a youtube channel I was more than a little bit excited. As well as discussing her own work and showing her process, Fran talks really honestly about life as an artist in a way that’s really lovely and refreshing.

WILL PATERSON

Logo designer Will Paterson, is one of the most popular design-tubers with good reason. He mainly focuses on logo design, brand identity and Adobe Illustrator. Will’s laid back style make his videos so easy to watch, which means you find you’re learning things without even realising.

CHARLI MARIE

Charli is a freelance designer based in the UK and all round super cool lady. Her videos are about everything from branding, to designing t-shirts and apparel to working with clients. Her enthusiasm about what she does really shines through her videos and always inspires me to get going.

 

LIFESTYLE

LIZZIE HADFIELD

When I grow up I want to dress like Lizzie Hadfield. Not only is Lizzie’s style in-credible, she makes really useful videos, her testing basics videos are the kind of fashion review that are genuinely useful rather than just fluffy sales tools. She also makes some of my absolute favourite vlogs, because she really feels like a friend and her accent kind of makes me think of home.

THE ANNA EDIT

I just like watching Anna’s videos, that’s all I have to say – I really enjoy them.

ESTEE LALONDE

Everything Estee Lalonde does is beautifully curated, whether that’s her home, her style, or her stunning book Bloom. I really aspire to that level of clarity of vision. Her dog reggie is a babe too – note to all youtubers out there I can and will be won over by the inclusion of a dog in your videos.

ARDEN ROSE

You could classify Arden as another beauty/style youtuber, that’s certainly where she started out. But, for me, her most inspirational videos are her more produced shorts like Almost Adulting, which she made to promote her book of the same name (it looks awesome). I promise after watching her videos your life will get a whole lot more sassy.

 

OTHER INSPIRATION

ARIEL BISSETT

As I mentioned in my first Book Club post, Ariel Bissett has really helped reignite my passion for reading because she always just seems so damn excited to have a book in her hand.

DO NOT SETTLE

Watching Do Not Settle’s videos is like getting to travel the world with a supercool architect friend who points out all of the most interesting buildings and elements in your surroundings. I genuinely think watching their videos has changed how I see the world a little bit.

CASEY NEISTAT

I feel like Casey is already so well subscribe to on youtube that there’s not really any point in mentioning him. Nevertheless, this list would be remiss without him on it, his ethos of just taking his gear with him and getting the shot without being precious is something that’s really inspired me and made me want to get better at not worrying and just doing the work.

 

Who else should I be watching?

 

I am a big believer in the importance of relaxing and recharging in order to be at your best. Prioritising and making the most of my down time has become a real focus for me now that I work full time and then work on the side, either designing or working on this blog. I’m in a position, like many people, where I could very easily slip into working all of the hours in the day and then some. I’m also an introvert who works in an industry led by communicating and having a jazz hands personality, so when I get home I am socially exhausted. So, I thought I would share my recharging routine because I think I’ve just about nailed it to the extent that I can get most of the things I need to done and feel like I’m not starting to fizzle out.

I think that having a routine is essential in making sure you switch off at the end of the day. I promise I’m not just saying that because I’m a bit of a control freak who loves routines. Having a regular set of things you do to unwind at the end of every day, or when you really need to relax helps train your brain to chill out. A routine doesn’t have to be inflexible. If you’re someone who works odd hours and can’t commit to having a set wind down time, just try doing the same 2 or 3 things before you have your recharge. If you can’t commit a lot of time just try having 10 minutes without your phone or a screen every night, or using an app like headspace to meditate. If you think you’ll get bored by doing the same thing every night, try just setting aside a period of time every evening to do something relaxing like a craft or reading that you can change up as and when you get bored.

The nosey among you have probably skipped over that long intro in order to see what it is I actually do, well the wait, and the scrolling, is no more. This is the routine I normally follow on weeknights:

 

9PM

I try to start unwinding by about 9pm on most nights, but that can definitely fluctuate. I’ll normally start by tidying up my desk and anything I’ve just dumped when I came in after work. Then I put out my clothes for the next day if it’s a weeknight, and put anything that needs to be in my bag in my bag. Once I feel like I’m all settled and everything is in order, I’ll write my one good thing in my journal and do a little 2-minute painting in my painting every day book.

 

9:30PM

After I’ve done those bits I feel like I’m ready to actually start to unwind so I’ll light a candle, or put on my essential oil burner, and change up the lighting in my room by turning on my fairy light and turning off the big overhead lights I have. Then I get in the shower, which is 100% my favourite part of this. If it’s a special occasion or I’m not feeling great, I’ll put on some music while I’m being my best self under the hot water. Once I’m all clean, I get into my pjs, slip on my slippers, dry my hair, then wash my face.

 

10PM

If I’ve not spent waaaay too long in the shower by about 10PM I’m ready to make a mug of camomile tea, my favourite is Clipper’s ‘Snore and Peace’ blend. Tea in hand I get comfy and watch some rubbish TV, I’m talking superheroes or over worn detective shows that I don’t have to think about. If I haven’t done it already I’ll write my to do list for the next day.

 

11PM

Once I’m suitably zombified by a show governed by 8 second scene cuts I brush my teeth and sit down in my bed to do a quick meditation to sort out my thoughts. I then like to read my book until I feel my eyelids start to droop, marking that I am truly ready to go to sleep.

 

I realise that this is quite a long routine, that I’ve detailed quite extensively, but I thought it was best to be thorough here. I really enjoy the process of winding down and I’ve found that taking these 2 and a half hours out of my day has become essential to my being able to function at my best. That said, everyone needs to wind down in their own way, if you’re an extrovert you might want to do things with friends, if you hate TV you might not want to watch Arrow, if you’re a parent you might not have time to do half of this. But I hope you do have something that is your own that helps you destress and recharge. Whatever it is I’d love to read about it, I find these posts/videos weirdly calming in their own way – so please share them in the comments!

I’ll admit it, I’m a bit of a “control freak” as much as I don’t like that phrase. I like to know what’s going to happen, and when, and where, and who with, at least a week in advance. I don’t like people springing plans on me. I don’t like people messing with my plans, with my schedule. To an extent, I think that’s all well and good. There’s nothing wrong with having a routine. In fact, it can even be beneficial. It’s not a crime not to be spontaneous.

However, it does become a problem when, like me, you start to find deviations to your routine so stressful that you start to have anxiety attacks about them; when the idea of breaking your meal plan causes your heart to race, when missing the arbitrary laundry time you set yourself because someone else is using the washer makes it feel like there are a tonne of bricks on your chest, when people trying to make plans with you makes you resent them even though you know you love them and want to see them. My need to be in control has made me anxious, angry, antisocial and someone I don’t want to be.

So, my need to be in control of everything in my life is the next demon on my hit list. As ever, I don’t think that I’m ever going to solve the problem, just tackle it a little bit. Plus, as I said at the start, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with liking things in a certain way, and it’s probably quite a key part of my personality.

This one is more of a work sheet that requires a bit more input, because, at least for me, the war against the constant need to be in control is one that needs to be fought on a number of fronts. I went with freeform, slightly irregular boxes to help fight the fight against control one arbitrary wiggly line at a time. While this one hasn’t had an immediate effect on how much anxiety I feel over being in control, has helped me be more conscious of where that part of my personality is being a negative influence, and has encouraged me to try and break some of my bad habits. *

You can print and keep the worksheet using the pdf here, in pink and plain white.

Let me know how you get on with the worksheet and please share anything you’ve tried that helps reduce control based anxiety.

*I’m clearly not a psychologist or a therapist, so yeah, just bear that in mind – this is just me trying to tell my own demons to politely fuck off.

I’ve been living in London for 6 months now, so whilst I’m still certainly not a Londonner, I have taken the tube literally hundreds of times and have just about worked out what I’m doing. During those 6 months I’ve realised there are a lot of things you can do to make your journey go a lot more smoothly that no one really tells you before you have to do it for yourself. So, this is me telling you just in case you’re new to the tube/looking to enhance your journey.

GET AN OYSTER CARD

Just get an oyster card. Unless you’re using a contactless card (I would worry about dropping mine, but I am a bit paranoid), they are honestly the cheapest, easiest, and best way to get around the city.

KNOW WHERE YOU’RE GOING

City Mapper is honestly your biggest asset in the city. It makes it super easy to work out your route before you set off and will let you know roughly how long it will take. When you’re working out your journey it’s good to make a mental note of the number of stops you’re going and the direction you’ll be going in if you have to change lines. There’s nothing worse than having to stop in the middle of a staircase to read the board to work out where you’re going. I’d also check which exit you need when leaving a station because taking the wrong one at bigger stations like Waterloo can leave you in completely the wrong place.

HAVE A PLAN B

Things happen, tubes break down and get delayed sometimes. It’s always good to have an idea of an alternative route if you have to change half way. You don’t always get wifi in the underground so working out your alternative beforehand is the best way to prevent extra stress.

CHECK AHEAD FOR DELAYS

There’s nothing worse than getting to the tube station and only finding out when you get there that there are delays. I have felt that sinking feeling, followed by a panic of “oh shit how am I going to get to work on time now?” too many times. Check your tube lines before you set off using the TFL website, the individual line twitter accounts, or even checking your route on City Mapper. It could save you so much anguish.

STAND ON THE RIGHT WALK ON THE LEFT OF THE ESCALATOR (ALWAYS WALK IF YOU CAN)

Save yourself the ire of rushed commuters by not blocking the left of the escalator. Honestly, Londonners are honeybadgers when they’re on the move. If you’re in a hurry, or like me just hate queueing for no reason, be prepared to walk on the left. For some reason people are prepared to become world class contortionists to get onto a tube but are then happy to queue not to walk up the escalator – why?!

DON’T TRAVEL AT PEAK TIMES, UNLESS YOU REALLY CAN’T AVOID IT

If you can don’t travel at peak times, you can find out the peak times for stations on the TFL website. Why travel when you know it’s going to be overcrowded and unpleasant? I know that if you’re commuting this might seem impossible but you don’t even have to travel wildly outside of peak times to feel the benefit, I now get into work for half 8 rather than 9 and I get a seat most days.

WAIT AT THE ENDS OF THE PLATFORM

The ends of the platform are normally where it’s quietest. The only exception to this I would suggest is if you know there’s another spot that will make it easier for you to change platforms at the other end if you need to.

BE PREPARED TO SQUISH IN

If it’s busy you’re going to have to squeeze in.

REALLY DO STAND BEHIND THE YELLOW LINE

Your safety should always come first. Also, don’t push the people at the front of the platform past the yellow line, even when the platform is busy try and take half a step back. It can be really scary to think you’re going to be pushed onto the platform.

TAKE OFF YOUR BACKPACK

Not only does this help you fit into a tighter space and sit down more easily, it’s also just polite. As someone who’s on the smaller side, this is a personal request after being hit in the face too many times by people unaware of the fact that their rucksack sticks out.

AIM TO STAND BETWEEN THE SEATS

While the area by the doors looks bigger, standing between the seats if the tube is busy guarantees you breathing space and puts you in exactly the right place to nab a seat if someone gets up.

BE POLITE ABOUT OFFERING OTHERS A SEAT

If you do manage to get a seat, be conscious when someone who might need it more than you gets on board. Obviously, anyone wearing a ‘Baby on Board’ or a ‘Please Offer Me a Seat’ pin falls into this category, but anyone with a young child who doesn’t look to steady on their feet should come first too. There’s also a judgement call to be made on someone you’d class as elderly, so be polite if you think they’re on the borderline of being grateful and offended at being offered a seat.

DON’T LEAN ON THE POLES

Other people need to hold onto them – duh.

BUT DO HOLD ON!

It can be harder to stay on your feet than you realise, especially if the tube has to come to a sudden halt after someone’s coat has gotten stuck in the door.

DO TAKE THE EVENING STANDARD

Having the paper to distract me has honestly revolutionised my journey home. It’s also just nice to read a physical paper for once. Just be sure to put it in the recycling bin (normally just outside the station) when you’re done with it.

NOISE CANCELLING HEADPHONES

If nothing else works just block out your entire commute.