Your Guide to a Compelling Design Brief
Whether you are branding, creating collateral or a new website, a good design brief can go a long way. Think of your brief as forming the foundations for your chosen designer to build upon. A shaky foundation will not hold steady, especially the more your business grows.
A design brief addresses the objectives (the “what”) of your branding project and the creative approach you will take (the “how”). It involves a range of team members, such as:
Accounts Team – analyse budgets.
Marketing Team – analyse competitors, gather customer data, develop a strong media strategy.
Creative Team – conceptualise creative ideas and explore whether the client has a viable vision.
No one knows your business quite like you do — your insights are invaluable when it comes to creating a brand identity that truly reflects who you are and what you do. The best way to ensure the designer is up to speed with every aspect of your business and to avoid misalignment is to provide them with a comprehensive design brief.
What is a design brief?
Put simply, a design brief is the document that outlines and defines the essential details of your upcoming branding, design project or campaign. It includes the overall goals, scope, strategy and potential target audience the design or campaign is directed towards. In many ways, it acts as a blueprint or roadmap for informing design specifications and decisions that guide the end-to-end workflow of your project. With a clear brief, this will help to highlight project deliverables, schedules and budgets amongst key project members and stakeholders involved.
Below we’ll outline the types of things you need to consider when creating a brief, and some of the questions you’ll need to be able to answer.
This is your opportunity to introduce yourself, your business and its key products and/or services. If necessary (maybe it’s niche, or technical), you should also try and explain your industry too.
Some questions you should be able to answer:
- How and why did you come up with the idea for your product or service?
- What features make your product or service stand out?
- What assets do you require to take your business to the next level?
Project Goals and Objectives
Outline the overall purpose of your project. Are you wanting to increase sales? Build stronger relationships with your customers? Build better brand recognition? Every business’ goals will be unique.
Goals and objectives can be looked at as the solutions to a problem. Here are some questions that may help get clarity on project goals and objectives:
- What problems are you, or your business, facing? (You might have some possible solutions you might also like to suggest.)
- Where do you see your business in a few years from now?
- Have there been any previous attempts to solve your design problem? If yes, how and what were the results?
Target Market or Audience
Understanding your target market is the first step towards addressing their needs. Outline their demographic, including age, gender and income, as well as their psychographic traits such as values, interests, and lifestyle choices. Some information to gather for your designer includes:
- A description of your ideal audience
- Common pain points or problems your target audience experiences and need to be addressed
- When and how will customers use your product or service
This one is very important and is one of the main reasons for providing designers with a brief. Therefore, it’s important to leave as little room for misinterpretation as possible. Include as much detail as you can—designers will only execute what’s in the scope (and budget) of your project. Here are some questions that may help you clarify what you will need:
- What do you expect to receive at the end of the project? (Think of this in terms of physical ‘things’ but also consider your list of project goals and objectives.)
- Do you have any initial design preferences? Any definite inclusions or exclusions? (For example, do you love yellow and know you want that featured in the design? Or perhaps there are other brands/designs you find inspiring.)
- How will you be using the finished art? This includes specs such as file formats, dimensions, resolutions etc. If you’re unsure, chat with your designer.
Don’t shy away from these budget conversations. Whilst we all find it challenging at times to discuss project budgets, the more clarity we have around what we’re working with, the better the outcome for all parties.
A clear budget will allow the designer to determine if your project deliverables are achievable. Furthermore, defining a clear budget will help avoid scope creep as your project progresses.
Budgets are a huge part of all design briefs and have a number of variables – keep an eye out for our upcoming article on project budgets, where we will uncover the ins and outs, the dos and don’ts in more detail.
Include any success metrics, project goals milestones and deadlines within this section. Providing insight into what success looks like is always a useful tactic.
- What are the key milestones within the project?
- Are there priority deliverables that have a strict deadline vs. any components that could come later?
Once you have created your design brief, be mindful that the client or your team may have additional input so ensure it’s constantly up-to-date and easily accessible to all those involved. Remember, it’s never fully finished until the project is complete – your design brief will always be evolving as the design comes to life.