design brief

Despite a controversial presentation at Cannes back in 2014 that questioned the need for briefs in the marketing world, they are still very much an integral part to design and development. They allow for a structured and strategic approach to a project at hand, effectively identifying problems and processes that need to be taken to complete a project in an efficient manner. Below, we lay out how to set an effective design brief.

What is a design brief?

A design brief is essentially a project management tool that allows you to identify key factors of an upcoming project, such as its scope, scale, and core. If undertaken properly, the design brief can become an important tool in keeping a project on track and achieving the best results possible. Think of it as a business plan, but for a piece of design.

A design brief is meant for your business and for the designer that you will be working with, and it’s important to include said designer in the design brief formulation process. Chances are they know more about design than you do, so it’s crucial to get their feedback, clarify any objectives or goals, and to set measurable timelines.

Other benefits of using a design brief are that they give all the necessary insights and vision into how you want the design to look, succinctly lay out your expectations to the designer, and keeps workers focused and on track.

What should be in a design brief?

While a design brief will vary from business to business, all will contain similar core sections.

A company profile

Your design brief should include a detailed background on your company so that the designer is able to get an appropriate feel for the ethos and culture of your brand. Such things to include are:

  • Details of your company, such as name and products
  • Your unique selling point (USP)
  • What your brand’s mission and values are
  • The key points of contact within your business
  • List of any competitors, both direct or indirect
  • Who your target audience are

A project overview

While the first bit helps to set background to the company, the project overview section will be the part that defines the context and aims of the project itself. You want to make this section as clear and detailed as possible so that the designer does not need to continuously contact you with more questions.

You can formulate this section by answering key questions such as “what are we doing with the project?” and “why are we doing it?”. It is useful to tackle these questions with the designer, as it is likely that they will prod and poke to gain answers to other questions you hadn’t even thought about.

The goals and overview of a project

While the project overview sets the context for the design project at hand, the goals and overview will clearly define what it is that you hope to achieve through this project. Keep these clear, succinct, and easily measurable.

You want to make sure that you keep your designer accountable, and if your goals are confusing or complex, then it could lead to issues further down the line. By clearly laying out exactly what it is that you hope to achieve from your project, your designer will know exactly how to work.

Design requirements and your budget

Finally, you’ll need to provide the design requirements, such as any resolutions and file formats, as well as the budget and schedule that you had in mind. You may need to be flexible when it comes to the latter two, but as with the above point, keeping these things clearly defined will mean there is no room for misunderstanding when your designer receives their brief.

Setting a good design brief

The most important thing when it comes to setting a good design brief is to keep it clear and detailed. You don’t want your designer to have to keep coming back to you with more questions; the more you include in the design brief then the better a feel they can get of your brand and exactly what you want. This, in turn, will lead to a well-developed design project.

Written by Anna Lemos