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3 Things to do Before You Design Anything

If you’re a motion designer or animator preparing director’s treatments, you need to know how to pitch.

Pitching to clients though can seem about as difficult as searching for a needle in a haystack. It’s hard to determine what your client wants when it’s as if they don’t even know what they want.

At the beginning of every pitch, you’ll start with a creative kickoff with your new potential client. Your objective in this first meeting is to gather information, distill it down, and synthesize it to present an effective design solution to the client.

Before you design anything, doing these three things will help you make sure you hit your potential client’s expectations right on target. Who wants to waste time chasing bad ideas, anyway? If you follow the three things, you’ll spend less time guessing what the client wants, and more time focused on the things that matter to them.

Define the Goal

In one sentence, can you answer what the project is, and what does it need to do? Here’s an example: “this branded content video will educate consumers about WiFi technology.”

Your objective here is to define the goal as simply as possible to avoid falling off track. Once you have the goal narrowed down, you can move on to the next step: identifying what’s getting in the way.

Diagnose the Problem

In order to figure out what’s preventing the client’s goal from coming to fruition, you need to find out the who, what, and how of the problem.


Who is the target audience? Who’s going to see this video, and why is it important to them?


What message needs to be communicated? And how should the audience feel after watching this video?


How and where will this be shown? And what part of the sales cycle will the viewer be in?

If the client has too many ideas circulating, and shares a lot of them in a short amount of time, prioritize the message and define the hierarchy with them. Listen and ask questions that will help you narrow down the biggest challenge. By doing this, you’ll also show your value as a partner.

Narrow your Design Exploration

Design thinking and solving problems through design takes a lot of time and effort. If you work with the client to narrow down what’s of value to explore upfront, you’re going to save a lot of time and focus your effort on things that matter. Plus, you won’t have to waste time guessing what the client wants. The key questions to ask are:

What are the creative parameters?

What can it look like/sound like?

Be on the lookout for “coded language” here. Coded language are words like epic, elegant, energetic that can be interpreted in a variety of ways. You can easily clear this up by asking, “what does ‘epic’ look like to you?”

How will you make your decision on who to work with?

This one kind of seems like a cheat code, but it’s one of the most important questions you can ask before preparing your pitch. The client will tell you the most important thing they need to see or hear to make their decision, and you can construct your pitch around this.

Keeping these three things in mind—defining the goal, diagnosing the problem, and narrowing down the design exploration—will keep you from running in circles as you prepare your pitch. You can gain a clear perspective of what your potential client wants. Pitching can seem difficult, but by following these three steps of the creative brief, you can creating winning pitches time after time.

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