Rants of a creative

Episode One, Part Two: At what point is creativity or outside the box thinking supposed to be addressed?

This question always pops because sometimes as designers we can either ‘play it too safe’ or go beyond the current realm of acceptability.  Establishing where outside the box is, is important because it helps people create boundaries, for example if the client has very strict brand guidelines it is pretty easy to figure out your next step. The problem usually occurs when a client steps out of their comfort zone.  Imagine a bank that is interested in engaging the youth, or is sponsoring a rally/ or large event. What kind of branding/design does one apply?

You may receive the following, which is a typical, if not an improvement on creative briefs we have received in the past.

Creative Brief

Bank X plans on sponsoring a safari rally event that will be held on 7th of next month. The safari rally event will be held to raise awareness of elephant poaching.  The elephants in Kenya are being killed at a quick rate and funding to counter this problem is really scarce, therefore, we as Bank X have partnered with NGO Y to help eradicate this problem. What we need:

  • Engaging artworks that will create awareness of our elephant campaign
  • Artwork for materials used during the event and
  • Artwork for handouts prior to this event
  • Prominent sponsor identity so as to push our brand forward
  • Timely response rate and amendments when changes may be required
  • Quotes for production of certain items

From this, we are supposed to create something that satisfies the bank mentioned above:

This brief is very vague.  What is it exactly that the client wants? Do they want branded shirts? Branded plastic cups? Banners? Tents? Hats? Cars (okay maybe not cars).  Upon calling to verify information, (pray you have a good customer relations person) you realize that the work may not be as overwhelming as you initially thought: so why didn’t the client just say so?

Truth is, that’s a creative brief, we have to deal with it.  So then next part is developing the designs: what in the world do you want it to look like? Would you like us to follow strictly your company guidelines and previous artworks? Or should we look at something else?

These questions are all part of how one determines whether or not he should ‘think outside the box or not’. To satisfy such a brief and to assist in getting the answers you may need to move forward you might begin by creating versions that adhere to the clients usual artworks (logo positioning, colors etc.) and throw in a few elements that are ‘out there’.  Depending on the reaction you get, you may either completely branch off or tone the creativity down. In truth, there are no right and wrong artworks: the artwork either meets expectations or it doesn’t.

Moses Waweru Chege – Graphic designer

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