10 Tips for Writing a Design Brief

Before getting an estimate from a designer and especially before beginning the design process, you should take the time to write out your business goals and explain any design requirements. The more a designer understands your business, the better the final design will be.

Telling the designer as much information as you can upfront will save you time and money. Don’t wait until you see the final design to determine it is not the end product you expected. Communication is key to a successful relationship with your designer. Here are some tips to get you started on writing a design brief.

  1. At this point, you should already have a business model and plan. If not, now is a good time to start thinking about your business goals. The best design in the world cannot save a business that is not well thought out.
  2. Be sure to describe your product or service fully. Give a brief company history. If you have any old brochures or newsletters that would help to explain the business, make a copy for your designer. Make sure your designer can get a good understanding of your industry.
  3. Explain your market position. Where do you stand against the competition? Describe the current situation that brings about the need for the project.
  4. Explain your marketing objectives and strategies. What are you planning to achieve with your marketing and how do you plan to achieve it? Example: XYZ Co. seeks to increase brand awareness and generate business leads by handing out brochures at business trade shows and…
  5. Describe your communication objectives and strategies. What are you trying to communicate to your customers and how are you doing it? Example: XYZ Co. wants to be established as a place to get quality service for less. Currently XYZ Co. is sending out direct mail showcasing our deals.
  6. Clarify your target audience. Who is your target customer? Remember, no company can afford to target everyone. Narrow down age, gender, income, geography and lifestyle.
  7. Write a project summary that explains what the project is and what you expect it to achieve. What are the design requirements? This can include dimensions, colors, required logos, anything that you want to be sure is in the final design. Also, if you want more than one design concept, be sure you let the designer know up front.
  8. Don’t try to design for the designer. Allow the designer to take what he or she has learned and come up with a creative solution. Do feel free to offer your opinions and suggestions, especially if something does not seem to fit with your brand image. Communicate, don’t dictate.
  9. Set an available budget. Providing a budget allows the designer to determine how much time can be dedicated to the project and if it is feasible. If you would prefer to first get an estimate, be sure to clearly outline everything you want included in the estimate such as number of concepts and revisions.
  10. Create a reasonable deadline. Give the designer an idea of your schedule and when you would like the project to be completed. Be sure you account time for consulting, concept and design development, design revisions, production and delivery.

If you are having trouble coming up with your objectives and strategies, your designer may be able to offer suggestions. Just know that a design backed by a good concept and strategy will be much more successful than a generic design. If you have suggestions and other tips, feel free to comment below.

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Third Party Resources

How Do You Write a Design Brief
10 More Tips for Writing Graphic Design Briefs

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Brandon said on December 1, 2010:

This would be helpful to have all clients and designers read and then implement. It would save both parties a lot of time and frustration.

I found this article via a google search, as I am currently revising/revisiting my design brief forms. Congrats on being #1 on my google search and thanks for the information.

Mandy Porta said on January 6, 2011:

I agree. I have never actually received a design brief from a client. Getting the info I need out of them can be like pulling teeth. Few companies seem to have a clear set of goals and objectives. I’m glad the info was helpful to you!

Mike said on April 11, 2011:

I’ve got to laugh at the 8th tip. Some of my friends are graphic designers and it really does ticks them off when clients tells them what to do and constantly changes details. It makes them feel like a mouse on the computer rather than a graphic designer.

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