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25th September 2020

How we bring your organisation to life in a design brief

Ben Serbutt

Ben Serbutt Head of Creative

@benserbutt Linkedin

Do you know who would read the audiobook of your website? It’s one key question of many that can help guide the visual direction of your new site

With each project that comes through the doors of the Hive, we ask clients to complete a design brief. A standard part of any project, getting the brief right ensures we’re asking the right questions before we answer the wrong ones. 

It’s a document that can be referred back to during the design and build process and helps us ensure we’re hearing a ‘single voice’ from any client. This is especially important with larger sites that have multiple stakeholders, each with their own, sometimes competing, priorities. 

A key part of our process is that we have a meeting to discuss the completed brief. As with all of our processes, we find collaboration is the best way of securing success, ensuring we’re receiving exactly what is being broadcast. It gives us a chance to clarify visual tone, design scope and organisational personality. 

While the brief covers the standard questions about audiences, calls to action and brand guidelines, it also helps us tease out the gems that can shape a project. Our client World Physiotherapy revealed “The escalators will be empty at Congress” during one meeting, meaning their members are all so active, they’d prefer to take the stairs. This insight helped shape the active, fresh colour palette of the rebrand.

The World Physiotherapy sub-brand logos

Do you know who would read the audiobook of your website? It’s one key question of many that can help guide the visual direction of your new site

The rougher edges and increased use of black on our Environmental Investigation Agency site came about through our casting of them as “Jason Bourne as opposed to James Bond. Working as much under the fence as in the corridors of power.


EIA website designs on mobile and table devices

Scope is especially important in design, as it’s still surprising how many organisations think a complete brand refresh can be completed as part of a website build. We manage expectations early to support clients in understanding the limits of their budget and therefore our time. 

But the question in our brief that gets the most discussion? “Name one person that would read the audiobook of your new site.” It’s a great brand question for clients to throw around the organisation, helping buy-in and narrowing the visual directions a new design might take. And no, you’re not allowed to answer Stephen Fry or David Attenborough, we like our clients to think harder than that!

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