Top Tips – How to write a design brief

Posted: 6th February 2018

It’s definitely the time of year when many of my clients start thinking about having a spring-clean on their branding/marketing materials. Before you dive in and start speaking to designers, I recommend spending some time drafting a design brief. Committing your thoughts to paper is a great discipline and really helps you get a clear idea of what you want to achieve.

Here’s my six essentials to include in a design brief:

  1. Provide background information
    A design agency needs to understand the context of your project. Be sure to include a brief summary of your business and its aims, as well as how this particular project came about – Why is it needed? What are the strategic objectives? What do you want it to achieve? Does the project have a lifespan or potential to be developed further in the future?
  2. Think about target audiences
    Who does the design work need to communicate with? It is essential to explain who you are targeting and how you want to engage with them. Consider whether you have any information which will help create a picture of your audiences – for example, can you describe  your ‘typical’ types of customer? Do you have other information that you can use to help provide more detail e.g.  regular questions asked via social media, purchasing patterns you have observed, search terms used to find your business online.
  3. Explain your brand values
    What do you want to mean to people as a business? Spend time defining your brand values as you should refer back to them every time you create new copy, photography, design work: ask yourself, are our brand values being effectively communicated? Your designer needs to understand your brand values in order to express your business visually.
  4. Include a budget and a timescale
    The nitty-gritty! If your agency is going to deliver on time and on budget then ensure you are clear about your expectations. Include important milestones, such as a board meeting, which the project needs to take into consideration.
  5. Detail the required outputs
    Make sure you know exactly what you want and include it in the scope of the project. For example, if you are looking for a design refresh, are you just after a new identity and style guide, or will you need it applied across various marketing materials such as social media, stationery, e-news templates, team fleeces etc. It’s always best to think about this in advance so that you can budget accordingly.
  6. Describe the pitching process
    Explain how designers can pitch for the work. It is usual to meet to discuss their credentials and thoughts about your specific project. Requesting initial designs is not considered acceptable practice and usually guarantees little (if any!) interest in your project.

Good luck drafting your design brief – I do hope this article helps you commit pen to paper. However, if you need some marketing support, please don’t hesitate to get in touch!