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Matt Pascoe

Senior Conceptual Designer

The Perfect Brief: Design is a process not a magic show

What would be the perfect brief? You'd imagine it would be something like - 'Do whatever you want' or 'How about working with your favourite brand?' On the face of it that sounds great, but in reality both of these things will have hidden perils. Doing what you want is a passport to doing nothing, because ultimately it is the same as having no brief. On the other hand, your favourite brand is likely to give you too much of a brief, bound by someone else's vision for a company you love as it is.

So what would be a better brief? The answer probably doesn't lie in the hands of the creative agency at all, we want to be challenged. Our role in this world is to solve problems, understand the end user and present the right vision of the product for the client and their customers. Sometimes our clients don't even know what their brief is. To help our clients figure out what it is they actually need, Rawnet run collaborative Foundry workshops. The aim of these is to discover what the actual problem is. From there we can start to solve it. Ultimately, the subject of the brief doesn't matter, we just want to get stuck in; but we need to know our client trusts us to get the job done. Although we may not always hit the nail on the head with the first attempt, we certainly won't give up. It's in our very nature to want answers; an unfinished job to a creative team is a problem still waiting to be solved.

Keeping a project on track in an age of email and conference calling should be simple. However it seems increasingly tough to keep everyone involved feeling satisfied with a project's direction. What can we do if things go slightly off track? What is the answer for when the aforementioned trust is challenged? I firmly believe there is nothing that can't be fixed with a piece of paper, a pencil and chat over a good cup of tea (the designer said). It's true though, humans are social animals at heart, we like to be together. The benefits to being in the same place are invaluable. Even if things aren't running quite to plan, you can't beat just talking things through.

Talking from personal experience, even when not in the same room as a client I try where I can to recreate that feeling of being together. More than once in recent months I have found myself talking on the phone with a client while refining and sharing my ideas in real time. Live creativity is really exciting; by more importantly it helps us try things as a combined client and creative team. Design is a process not a magic show. We are all working together to reach the solution, so why not share the experience?

You never know when even the most straightforward brief might take a different course. The brief can change, the ideas might not be spot on or timings might all of a sudden get a lot tighter. This is why a designer needs to be adaptable. Like I've already said, we love a challenge so a slight change of plan should be more of a thrill than a reason to hit the panic button. I'm not going to say that I've never rolled my eyes at a client’s suggestion, but that is always shortly followed by me rolling up my sleeves and seeing what can be done to get the job sorted.

At Rawnet we are problem solvers. This means we will always look to challenge a brief, even if doing so may raise a few eyebrows. However by doing this we ultimately will find a better solution. So what is our perfect brief? It isn't necessarily the one that comes with the big name or social recognition, because if we do a good job those things will more than likely follow. For us the perfect brief is the one that comes with the client's unrelenting trust and desire to work with our creative team, to solve their problem whatever it may be.