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What is a design brief?

By: NIck Turner at BittenByDesign

Submitted on Fri, Jul 24th, 2009 2:55 am

A design brief is something that is vital to any design project, as it will provide the designer(s) with all the information needed to create a great visual design solution.

There is no single, off-the-shelf format for a design brief but there are a number of key points the agency MUST understand. The project team should create the brief focusing on the results and the business objectives of the design project. All stakeholders should unanimously agree on the content prior to starting the design process. This ensures an effective design solution as well as keeps the expected changes to a minimum.

What are the specifications?

1. What is the finished size of the completed design?

2. How is it going to be printed or used?

What other information should the designer know in regards to finished specifications?

Company profile

1. What your business does

2. What is you USP (Unique Selling Proposition)

3. How you fit into your industry sector

Project overview and background

What are you trying to communicate and why?
What is the call to action or business objective
Who are your competitors and how do you differ from them?
Does it need to match existing material, conform to Brand guidelines or is it a new direction for your company?


It is just as important to provide us with what you DONT want to see along with what you DO want to see in the designs. Provide us with some examples of what you consider to be effective or relevant design even if it is from your main competitors. This will set a benchmark for your project.

This will give the designer an idea of what to steer clear of and will avoid disappointment on your behalf.

Target audience

Provide demographic figures about your audience (in order of importance) that may be useful to the designer. These may include: age, gender, income, tastes, views, attitudes, employment, lifestyle.

Business objectives and strategy

1. Generate sales?

2. Encourage enquiries?

3. Gain newsletter subscribers?

4. Obtain information from your audience?

5. Encourage them to tell a friend?

What is the time scale / deadline?

Provide a ball-park figure, a budget expectation will give the designer a good idea of the type of solution they will realistically be able to provide. Providing a budget prevents designers wasting valuable time and resources when trying to maximise your budget.
Give the designer a detailed schedule of the project and agree on a realistic deadline for the completion of the work. You should take into account the various stages of the design project such as brief, concept approvals, development, production and delivery.

What copy (text) and pictures are needed?

Tip: The copy and pictures used in a design are as crucial as the design itself and you should clearly state who is going to be providing the copy and pictures if needed. You may need to look into getting a professional copywriter / photographer - ask your designer for some recommendations.

What copy needs to be included in the design? Who is providing the copy?

1. What pictures / photographs / diagrams etc need to be used?

2. Who is providing these?

About the Author

NIck Turner
Graphic Design Studio offering full service graphic and web design.

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