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Understanding a Brief: The Foundation of Creative Success

When it comes to creative projects, success often lies in a well-understood brief. Just as a map guides a traveller, a brief guides a creative. The importance of thoroughly reading and understanding a brief cannot be overstated - it's the first step in a journey towards delivering a project that not only meets but exceeds client expectations. Let’s delve into the essential aspects of reading and digesting a brief.

The art of reading the brief: beyond skimming

It's not just about reading the brief; it's about understanding it. This step is crucial and should be undertaken well before starting the task. A thorough read primes your subconscious, allowing you to start processing ideas and approaches even before you actively begin working on the project.

Key points to remember:

  • Give the brief the attention it deserves. Avoid skimming; instead, read with intent.
  • Utilise this time to spot any missing information or potential issues.
  • Align your expectations with the objectives outlined in the brief.

Understanding the problem: the creative's compass

As creatives, we're wired to jump straight to solutions. However, effective problem-solving begins with a deep understanding of the problem itself. This involves immersing yourself in the client's world - knowing who they are, what they do, and most importantly, what they need.

Tips for deep understanding:

  • Conduct thorough research about the client and their industry.
  • Strive to see the world from the client's perspective.
  • Become an expert on the core problem that the brief aims to address.

Engage in dialogue: asking questions

Reading a brief is not a passive activity. It's the beginning of an ongoing dialogue between you and the client (or the person briefing you). By asking questions, you gain clarity and uncover insights, enabling you to propose potential directions for the project.

Benefits of asking questions:

  • Gain a deeper understanding of the brief.
  • Uncover the client's underlying needs and expectations.
  • Develop a collaborative relationship with the client or brief writer.

Embracing optimism and collaboration

Approach the brief with an optimistic mindset. View yourself as an equal collaborator in the creative process. A well-understood brief is your gateway to a successful outcome for both you and your client.


The journey of a creative project is a delicate balance between understanding, questioning, and collaborating. A brief is more than just a document; it's a roadmap to creative excellence. By mastering the art of digesting a brief, you maximise your strike rate on successful solutions that stand the test of time for your client's needs (and stronger work for your portfolio.)

Author Luke Vidamour