how to write a design brief

In my article on how to write a design brief I’m going to start by telling you what a design brief is, describe how to write a design brief, suggest a structure to help you write your own design brief and then tell you where you can seek further advice.

The definition of a design brief

A design brief describes what is required for a design project. It gives the designer the information they need to start creating the relevant design solutions.

A design brief is also used as a reference guide by the designer during the project. This helps to keep design solutions on the right track.

How to write a design brief

Whether it’s for a logo design, website design, packaging design or brand design, the question of how to write a design brief can be answered by having the right headings, under which you write down the corresponding information.

To help you write your own design brief I am going to suggest some of the headings you might consider, together with the kind of information you might put under each.

It’s important to note that this is not an exhaustive list and is instead a suggestion to give you an idea of what types of information a brief should contain. Every design project is different, requiring different types of information to be captured.

Please note, one organisation, design or marketing team can benefit from using the same design brief structure for every project as it can help to maintain consistency across design solutions.

A suggested structure for your design brief

Background

Give details about the background to the design project, including the setting for the problem to be solved. You should be looking to give the project, and the problem to be solved, a context. A clear understanding of where the eventual solution will fit helps the designer create appropriate designs.

Project description

Describe what is required from the project. This should include the problem you are trying to solve and possibly a suggestion of how this problem should be answered.

Who is your target audience and ideal customer?

Be as specific as possible. You should aim for a description of one person. Are they male or female? What age are they? What are they interested in? Where do they hang out?

Positioning

What is the market positioning for the final design? Is it high end and luxury? Or is it all about value for money?

Competition

Who are the competitors? Include direct and indirect competitors.

Objectives

What should the final design achieve? Are you trying to raise awareness, or do you need to sell a certain number of event tickets? Do you want to appear professional and credible or are you looking to drive 500 extra unique visitors to your website?

Goals

How are you going to measure how effective the final design solution is? Are you going to measure how many times someone clicks a button on a web page or are you going to measure engagement rates on a Facebook post? Are you going to conduct a before and after awareness questionnaire?

Outputs

List all items that are needed, for example it could be logo design, website design, packaging design, van livery and polo shirt branding. Where possible give specifications such as sizes, number of pages, colours and current brand assets to be used.

Timeline

Give all deadlines and milestones to be met. These could include dates by which artwork needs to go to a printer, dates materials need to be signed of internally and dates of presentations.

Previous artwork

If there exists previous projects or artwork that needs to be taken into account for the project then you should list what that artwork is and where the designer can find it.

Inclusions

What absolutely needs to be included in the design? It could be existing branding, logos, colours, fonts, types of layout. If there is a set of brand guidelines that need to be adhered to, you should let the designer know how they can access this document.

Exclusions

What absolutely should not to be included in the design? This could include certain language and imagery that could be interpreted as being stereotyping, for example. Again, brand guidelines may assist the designer in getting to know what elements should be excluded from the design. You can see an example of some brand guidelines here.

Conclusion

I’ve tried to answer the question of, “How to write a design brief” as concisely and clearly as possible. As I mentioned earlier, the above list is by no means an exhaustive one. Rather it should serve as a guide to what kinds of questions should be answered in your design brief.

Further help and advice on how to write a design brief

Don’t forget, if you ever need help and advice in how to write a design brief, ask a designer. After all, we use these things day in day out! Feel free to contact me direct on 07793 317018, leave a comment below or go to my contact page.