Insights, Dispensed

A Different Approach to Creative Briefs

By Brandon Ramsuer, Design Strategist

You don’t know what you don’t know. It’s true across all aspects of life, and designing a product is no different.

The use of creative briefs is a standardized practice in the product design field, but there is no “standard” creative brief. Every company structures them differently, often developing a new brief specifically for the product being launched or redesigned. This leads to tremendous variation regarding their format and focus, which are dependent on the department issuing them.

Depending on the organization, creative briefs generally are written by one of two departments: product engineering or marketing. Not surprisingly, the focus of the brief is heavily influenced by this. As you might suspect, briefs developed by product engineers are much more technically focused, concerned with specifications, formulas and other specific details. Briefs that come from marketing departments are more concerned with relaying the company’s values and identity, customer insights, and market learnings through its product design. Both perspectives are critical for a successful product design, but few creative briefs take both sides into account.

A different approach

Regardless of the focus a creative brief takes, it still is based on a company’s existing knowledge of the product space – meaning, they’ll only ask the questions they know to ask. If responded to without deviation, this can lead to limited design ideas. This is why our team at Silgan Dispensing takes a different approach. We always do whatever is asked of a creative brief, but in addition to that, we provide a supplemental brief based on our own research and expertise.

Hands-on testing of product category

There’s no substitute to getting your hands on different products and testing them in a variety of settings by multiple individuals. Often, a professional design team isn’t representative of the product’s target consumers. Simply brainstorming ideas based on the questions in the creative brief isn’t enough to uncover insightful ideas to make the product stand out among its competitors.

Review of multiple product design considerations

After testing products in a number of ways and reviewing any and all available industry trend reports, our team then outlines additional design considerations such as packaging, shelf differentiation and storage. As mentioned above, these design aspects might not be identified in the creative brief, but they can have huge implications on consumers’ experience with the product. Being a product design firm with capabilities to support the entire production process – from design to manufacturing – we can pull from our team’s breadth and depth of expertise to help develop a fully formed creative brief response.

All of this takes place before we propose any design ideas to a potential or existing customer. This might seem like a lot of work for a simple creative brief response, but invariably, it always leads to a smoother, more aligned process down the road.