7 Eternal Truths When Working on Online Briefs

It is hard to imagine but crowdsourcing or tapping on an online community to work on online briefs has been around since 2005! Although not a new phenomenon, it is still not a common one in the creative space. Just as there are challenges that comes with working on online briefs, there equally are new opportunities that comes with doing so.


I have called out 7 key things a designer should always, did I say always, remember when working on online briefs. To make it simple to recall, just remember the acronym ReFUEL4Read, enquire, Find, Understand, Experiment, Learn4ever!


Read the Brief


This is the cardinal rule that every designer should know. This rule becomes even more important when working on platforms where the briefs are online. Unlike the traditional ways of working, there is no face to face briefing and generally what you see is what you get. The onus is now on you to actually read the brief and understand what the request is.

If you are going to lazy about reading the brief, be smart about it.


Don’t skip these sections – it is just suicidal:


– Client Overview: What the client’s business is

– Target Audience: Who the client wants to connect with

– Key Feature(s): What about the services or product the client wants to feature that will connect with the target audience

– Creative Direction: How visually the client would like to attract the target audience’s attention and for the target audience to resonate with the key feature

– Client’s Assets: The assets the client provides should support what the client wants to achieve visually


Enquire if you are not clear


Not all briefs are written equally. Compounded with the fact that there is no actual briefing process, it is imperative that if you are not clear about the brief  or it appears incomplete, enquire. The worst thing you can do is to proceed to work on the brief without clearing up your doubts. Not only is it highly likely that you may be wasting your time doing something the client did not request but more importantly, the client may have a less than desirable impression of what your true creative capabilities are.


Remember once bitten twice shy and first impressions matter – especially online.


Find out the latest trends 


The online space is ever changing. To quote from the Project Runway “One day you’re in, the next day you’re out”. With online ads, media owners and advertisers are constantly finding new ways to rise above the noise and capture the target audience’s attention. This could be done in a variety of ways – ad formats and sizes, placements, visual treatment, visual elements and composition … this list is not exhaustive.


What is important is to know what is happening online as well as in the real world, then to connect it to the brief you are working on.


Understand the medium 


Unlike television and radio, the target audience’s online behaviour can vary medium to medium. When the target audience is accessing their Facebook account vs Twitter vs Instagram vs YouTube …How the target audience interacts with each varies.


Design with the medium and how the target audience interacts with the medium in mind.


Experiment and push the boundaries


As the online space is ever changing and evolving, you have the opportunity to be a trend follower or a trend setter. Think of visually creative way to capture the target audience attention (and the advertiser’s heart). There are many perspectives to interpreting the creative direction. It is very possible to be on brief and brand and yet visually experimental with what you are creating.


It is better to go beyond the boundaries and for the client to tell you to pull back then the reverse.


Learn from others


The great thing about online briefs is that generally you will also be able to see other designers submissions that work or did not work.This is especially true for ReFUEL4 as you are able to see that clients selected and rejected.This is a unique learning opportunity as you can learn from other designers, visually and in a real not hypothetical context. You may also be able to see how different designers approached the same brief. This could give you ideas that you may not have considered before.


You don’t know what you don’t know until you know … from others!


4ever as this won’t change!


Like diamonds, the guidelines above will stand the test of time … for the foreseeable future. Bear this is mind every time you work on a brief and you will be on firm ground to succeed.




Earl Allan

Living is an experience of adventures. Always open to trying different activities except maybe where my heart is going to jump out of my mouth!