Have you ever had a designer ask you to provide a brief for the job you have just engaged them to do?

An effective design brief is critical in ensuring that not only the project is successful, but in making sure the whole process is as efficient as possible – which means saving time and money in most cases. But how do you put into words the vision you have for the design you are after?

Firstly, what is a design brief?

A design brief provides the design agency with all the information needed to meet and hopefully exceed your expectations.

It should focus on the outcomes of the project and the business objectives associated with it. The brief also allows you (the client) to express what you want to achieve before any work begins.
The purpose of the design brief is to ensure that you get a high quality design that achieves its objectives. It should not delve into the aesthetics or details of the design. Leave that to the designer.

The 8 steps to writing an effective design brief.

Answering the following questions will provide your designer with most of the information they require to quote or get started on the project. A good designer will ask any relevant questions that may not be covered by what you have written.

Remember, too much information is better than not enough. You won’t provide too much detail with one-line answers!

 1.  What do you do?

Never assume that whoever you are talking to will know anything about your company. Be clear, concise and don’t be too technical. Obviously this may not be relevant if you are an existing client of the design agency.

  • What does your company/organisation do?
  • A brief company history
  • If you are a previous client of the design agency, what exact product/service is this new project relevant to?

2.  Who is your target market?

  • What are your target market’s demographics & psychographics?
    age, gender, income, tastes, views, attitudes, employment, geography, lifestyle habits, hobbies.
  • Do you have multiple target audiences? If so, which are the most important?


3.  What are the goals of this design project?  

  • What is the overall objective of this project?
  • What are you trying to communicate and why?
  • Are you trying to sell a product/service or just increase awareness of your product, service or brand in general?
  • What are your point of differences from your competition?
  • What is your one unique selling proposition?
  • Are you looking for a brand new style of design, or refreshing and updating an existing look and feel?
  • Do you have any existing marketing collateral as reference?

4.  What are the job specifications?

  • What is the finished size of the design?
  • Where is it going to be used? eg. internet, printed material, signage, email…
  • Do you require a printing quote? If so, provide quantity and discuss paper stock preferences with your designer.
  • Does your brand / product have specific colours and/or typefaces that must be used?
  • Does your brand / product have an existing style guide that must be adhered to?
  • Are there any other details regarding the job specifications that the designer should know?

5.  What text, logos and pictures are needed?

  • What copy needs to be included? Who will be providing this? Is a copywriter required?
  • What photographs / diagrams / illustrations are to be included? Who is providing these? Is professional photography required?
  • What mandatory company logos and taglines need to be included?
  • Are they are associated sponsor or affiliate brand logos that also need to be incorporated into the design?

Tip: Most images will require colour correction and/or some touch ups – this is something that should be discussed with your design agency early in the process.

6.  Do you have relevant examples to show?

  • If possible, provide your designer with examples of relevant designs that you like and / or dislike, even if it is from your competitors. This will give your designer an insight into the direction you are after (or not after!).
  • Outline any preferences you have for colours, typefaces, images, look and feel etc. Again, this will give your designer an idea of your preferred style and what to potentially avoid.

7.  What is your budget?

  • Providing a budget (or budget range) upfront allows the design agency to know if the project is going to be achievable to complete within the specifications and to your expectations.
  • It also allows the agency to quote more accurately and enables them to ensure you receive the best bang for your buck!

8.  What is the deadline?

  • Give the design agency a realistic deadline for the completion of the project, or when you’d ideally like the work to be delivered or go to market. Your agency will then work out the project schedule incorporating initial design drafts, revisions, approvals and production timeframes.

 Tip: Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day and fast food is fast for a reason. Your expectations around the quality of work delivered sometimes need to be set based on your budget and timeframes.