Creative Brief: A cornerstone in the design process

Creative Brief: A cornerstone in the design process

As Akendi works with a wide variety of industries, I’ve been lucky to work with a variety of client types: Developers, CEOs, Marketing & Communications Managers, Product Engineers, Analysts, and more. However, my process never varies. Like any good process, it works no matter the parties involved.

As Design Director, my role is to help the client get from an idea to a tangible end product. I help interpret their aesthetic preferences into design decisions. It’s more than discussing likes and dislikes, it’s about becoming an advocate for each and every client. Connecting to what breathes life into the idea and ensuring that connection comes out in the design is my mission.

I strive to create custom solutions that meet the exact needs of my clients. We don’t offer prepackaged, template solutions; instead we use effective processes that guide us to the sweet spot that effectively meets the needs of the stakeholders, brand, customers and users. Engaging these audiences on an emotional level is what we strive for.

Over the years I have sculpted my process to protect me against weakness (my own and my client’s) and avoid bias. Part of this process is learning how to engage with the client, where the feedback loops are, how to communicate developments, and when to explain design impact.   

With every client I conduct a Creative Workshop to help stakeholders articulate their aesthetic vision, which is then captured in a Creative Brief. A Creative Brief is a guiding document that defines the communication strategy, messaging, goals and visual direction of the project. This type of information is often extremely difficult to articulate. Below is the process I follow to get there:


1.    Define requirements – Kick off the project with all relevant parties to make sure that everyone is on the same page and understands the project objectives

 2.    Get decision makers in the room ­– Ensure stakeholders that have the power to derail the design process down the road are at the table

 3.    Ask the right questions – Ask varied questions to come at it from different angles and to increase the likelihood of understanding

 4.    Personify the product – Questions like “If your product walked into a bar, what would it look like? How would it carry itself? What would it say?” help to draw out the personality of the brand and the product

 5.    Understand limitations – Capture likes, dislikes, mandatories and competitors

 6.    Create the brief – Work with the client to capture discoveries and define the final direction

The Creative Brief is a critical part of my process. It is the foundation of any design project we do and works simultaneously as a reference manual and inspiration guide. A well thought-out creative brief defines and quantifies our efforts and provides an agreed-upon set of expectations. It helps create a design that supports the visceral, behavioural and reflective needs of the user as well as the needs of the business. All of which are critical for success.

 Athena Herrmann, is Design Director at Akendi, a firm dedicated to creating intentional experiences through end-to-end experience design. To learn more about Akendi or user experience design, visit



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