Ten tips for writing a design brief

Not sure where to start with a brief for your graphic designer?

There are no rules for writing a brief, but it helps to give your designer as much information as possible. I like to meet my clients in person (there are SO many nice coffee shops in Bristol!), or at least talk on a phone or video call, because it’s much easier to understand any emotion or sentiment behind their ideas.

If you need to write a brief for a graphic designer, but you’re not sure how to explain what you want, or even what it is exactly that you need, try answering the following questions. They can help you define the problem, and the answers will give a designer a good understanding of what they need to achieve with the project.

1. About your business

Give as much information about your organisation’s background, its mission, and any USPs. Who are you competing against? What differentiates you from them? What do you like or dislike about what they do?

2. Who will be involved in the creative project?

It’s good to know from the start any names, key dates, and the contact details and roles of people involved, rather than mentioning at the last minute that you need to run the final designs past a certain director who hates the colour green!

3. Have any previous design, illustration, or branding projects taken place?

If you already have a brand or some design assets that will drive the look and feel of the project, show us them! It could save a lot of time (and money), and will give your designer a good understanding of what’s been used to represent the brand in the past. Even if it didn’t work, or you want a new take on the project, it still helps us to know what not to do!

4. Project overview

Provide as many details about the project as you can. Where will it be used? What problems need to be solved? What are the desired outcomes? What is success, and how will you measure it?

5. Target audience

Describe the target market segments (primary and secondary). If you’ve done any research, show the findings. If you have a website, I’d love a sneaky peek at your analytics!

Google analytics can be dauntingly confusing, but I’m a bit of a geek when it comes to stats!  Photo by  Carlos Muza  on  Unsplash

Google analytics can be dauntingly confusing, but I’m a bit of a geek when it comes to stats!
Photo by Carlos Muza on Unsplash

6. Core message

What are the key impressions you want to make with your designs? Again, what’s the desired outcome? Do you want people to take action after they see the designs, or simply walk away feeling warm and fuzzy about your brand?

7. Design features

Have you seen something you like or aspire to be like? Do you prefer a certain style of photography, icons or illustration? It could be anything, even if it’s not industry-related, but it caught your eye, let us know and supply links for reference, or a mood board, if possible.

8. Anything else?

Literally ANY other relevant information, data or thoughts that could influence the project or design.

9. Final deliverables

What do you actually need at the end of the project? Try to be as specific as possible, for example, if you need a brochure designed, do you know how many pages, or sections it might need to have? If you have a printer’s spec, send that over too.

10. Budget

By letting me know your budget, I can figure out the best possible solution within your price range and I won’t waste your time working up a response that is way too expensive.

I hope that helps you gather your thoughts! Feel free to download these questions as a PDF and scribble to your heart’s content. And if you can’t answer all of the questions, don’t worry. We could just have a chat instead.