Writing a design brief

Writing a design brief

The aim of a design brief is to ensure both the design team and client are clear on the project outcome and can work with efficiency. It is a project management document and can be likened to a map.

Organising your ideas

To get your thoughts and briefing started, organising your ideas into bullet points is an excellent first step. The brief needs to be both succinct and detailed enough to inspire the designers. It is a reference for them to check back they have met the goals discussed in the meeting when going over the written brief. It also supplies a clear outline for project quoting.

Most design studios/agencies will have a briefing sheet they can supply to get you started. There is no industry standard however a briefing document should cover the following:

• Contact details (brief author, date issued, brief version)

• Project scope

• Project/Product overview

• Value proposition

• Background, including market conditions, competitors

• Business objectives

• Communication objectives

• Key messages that must be conveyed by the project

• Single minded proposition (one sentence to explain the most important factor)

• Target audience (primary and secondary including demographic information)

• Actions the creative will inspire when people receive/interact with the piece

• How will the design be used?

• Project timing/s with clear requirement of deliverables

• Current branding requirements to be followed/considered

• Further information to assist with project scope

Requirements and restrictions

The trick to writing a brief is to make sure the project requirements are clear and that you have left room for the design team to input their creativity within these requirements.

A vital inclusion in briefing design teams is to make sure the project has context. This may be explaining how the business sits in the marketplace; plans for expansion; feedback from customers; feedback from your sales team. It might be a technical consideration/process or material. It might be a walk through the workplace or project site or dig through a room of archives. No one knows precisely which small detail will ignite the idea or tie the project together. Often, contextual information that is beyond the immediate project scope is the key to bring a design together. Experienced designers will mesh this information and pull the strands into their visual solution.

Providing content

If the project requires content from the client, the next step is to prepare the written material and collect hi res images. We suggest Word files for text, with Excel for specification documents. Hi res images should be kept in a folder and named clearly. If you have captions to write, suggest numbering a grid in Excel with image names, so it is clear what belongs where. Alternatively, embed a small image thumbnail in Word, with the caption.

The key is organisation and being methodical when collating content, which will make the project streamlined for all.

The act of creating a full design brief will help you focus on exactly what you want and need the project to be and achieve. It will also make working with a designer simple and enjoyable as ideas become reality.