Monday, January 4, 2010

Fashion Sense Mixed With A Little Common Sense!

The five essential topics to cover in a design brief

I remember how I excitedly entered the quaint, lake-front Starbucks near my home that Friday morning, and how I couldn't help but to think what a great opportunity this would be. I began to set up my laptop, while waiting for my potential client to join me for our meeting. One tall non-fat Caramel Macchiato later the meeting went underway. The potential client excitedly spoke about his brand, and explained how impressed he was about my portfolio presentation.

He then stated he wanted to begin immediately, and I was to design for Fall 2010 launch. It was then I realized even though he was obviously long-winded, I still didn't know much about his brand. It was a good thing I brought a copy of my handy dandy Design Brief and Non-Disclosure Agreement. Needless to say, that design brief brought the prospect's ideas into perspective.

For those who don't know, a design brief is a comprehensive written document for a design project developed in concert by a person representing the business need for design and the designer. The document is focused on the desired results of design – not aesthetics. In this diary entry, I will cover the 5 essential topics to cover in your design brief, to avoid confusion down the line.

Topic #1 - Brief description of product(s) and/or Brand
This is the most important part of the design brief. This gives the client the opportunity to explain his or her ideas in detail, as well as a chance for you to collect all necessary information. Does this client have a website, logo, and already branded materials? What is the client's branding strategy?  What is the client's budget? Pay close attention to the adjectives they use when explaining their products.

Topic #2 - Customer Profile
It is imperative that your client knows and understands his or her target customer. Be sure the client is clear on the customer's demographics as well as psychographics. What is the customers age, sex, general location? What types of stores does this individual usually frequent?

Topic #3 - Anticipated Price Points
The consumer profile and anticipated price points go hand in hand. If their design aesthetic is very complicated and modern, be sure to explain what type(s) of consumers would pay for that project. If they want high quality fabrics, be sure to reiterate what their budget can realistically cover. Is the client aware of pattern making costs? Does the client plan to develop the product domestically or internationally?

Topic #4 - Where will the products will be sold?
Does your client have an idea of the types of stores they would like to sell to? If so, is he or she aware of the company's quality standards? Be sure to cover all channels of retailing in detail with him or her to get a better understanding of what it will take to meet the client's goal(s).

Topic #5 - Who do you hang with?
In other words, who is the client's competition. What company or brand, does the client want to be associated with or compared to? What is the unique selling point of the client's brand, that will differentiate them from these specific labels? What is your client's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats? The SWOT analysis is a great tool for any business endeavor. An example of this can be found here =>

At the end of the meeting, I left still feeling lively from my coffee, and the slightly flustered client shortly followed suit. My design brief shown him that he had a lot to cover before he could move on with his plans. There were topics introduced that he knew nothing about. As a freelance apparel designer, I expect my clients to help me help them, so I firmly stand behind vigorous preparation before exploring any 'good' idea. A good idea is okay, but a well thought out and planned idea is even better. Until next time my friends...

Fashionably Yours,

Since the tender age of twelve, Schaumin Chanel Alexander has been creating fashion illustrations, and designing womens wear apparel. Shortly after graduating college with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Fashion Design & Marketing, she began freelancing her talents. SchauminChanel is the main designer and chief operator of Creative Conceptz Ltd., a company dedicated to freelance fashion design.


AJ said...

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