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Graphic Design

How To Write A Good Design Brief That Will Actually Drive Results

By October 3, 2017January 18th, 2021No Comments12 min read

If you ask any graphic designer how to succeed when running a design project over the long term, it’s very likely that they refer to – writing an on-point design brief.

An effective brief gives a designer (s) everything needed in meeting the client’s expectations.

That term gets thrown around a lot. You’ve probably heard or read often when kickstarting a design project.
This is because the design brief is essential than ever before for effectively executed graphic design (product and process).

Most designers and project managers in a good design brief rely heavily on the background of the project, objectives of the project, competitors, budget, and nearly everything else.

There’s a good reason it drives results.

Actually, let me rephrase that.

It will drive results, but you have to do it right with the brief.


So today, I’m going to show you exactly how to do that.

After you read this, you’ll be able to create a design brief that works for you (client and designer) and gets real results.

Let’s get started.


What is a Design Brief?

Most Graphic Design projects start with a clearly defined deliverable and scope of the project including any products, timing, and budget.

The document outlines what the client wants to achieve and also act as a point of reference for both the client, designer or organization in the design process. From a well-created design brief, the designer (s) is able to identify with the client’s expectations and familiarize with the need of the project.

From a well-created design brief, the designer (s) is able to identify with the client’s expectations and familiarize with the need of the project.

Therefore, the brief should be oriented in giving design solution within the objective of the business. Anything done out of the design brief may alter the intended results and miss the impact of the design project.

The initial step of a design project being a design brief, it’s partly because they are used to evaluate the effectiveness of a design after it has been produced and during the creation process to keep the project on track and on budget.

It is also because there is a move towards greater accountability in the design process and thus may find it useful.

The clients also may identify the objectives of the business being meet in the design process. Design Brief usually changes over time and are adjusted as the scope of the project evolves.

Design Brief usually changes over time and are adjusted as the scope of the project evolves.

Often design brief is ‘signed off’ by the client and designer at set stages in the project.


Kickstart a design project with us by filling the design brief questionnaire Here.


Essential Elements Of An Effective Design Brief

As a well articulate design brief is a critical part of the design process.

There are important design issues that need to be considered before the designer gets down to business.

Ready to rock on with design brief essential elements?

Then let’s begin looking at the key elements of a design brief.


Background Of The Project

Provide context by the background information on a company is quite helpful to the designer or creative team gets a better understanding of your business.

What is the project? And what is the purpose of the project? Is there a need for a corporate identity for the company?

The truth is that this project overview is where you should provide a detailed description of the project that entails as much context and background as possible.

For example, if you are redesigning an existing website, it is very helpful to understand the need. It may be necessary to outline the particulars that need to change and improved.

Point to Note: It is more important to get straight and clear on the information about the company.

So never assume that the designer will know anything about your company.


Perhaps the question a company may need to outline and clarify:

  • What does the company/organization do?
  • What is their product or service?
  • What is the company’s story?
  • What’s the size of their company?
  • How long has the company been in business?
  • What is the company value proposition?


Objectives and Goals Of The Project

Most designers will identify these as the most important part of the brief. It’s essential that you think through the strategy and objectives completely before getting the project started.

Goals are the description of the intended purpose of the project, while objectives are the measure of methods in achieving the goals.

The first thing that needed to be defined is the goal that the client wants from their new design. Is it a redesign or reworking of an existing site, or is it a completely new design?

For example; The designer’s approach to a design that’s meant to raise awareness may be different from the one that’s meant to specifically sell a product or service.

A point to note: The project objective also be a measurable statement of the business outcomes the project is supposed to achieve.

It should highlight the expectations of what the business hopes to achieve.

If the project is to design a new logo, there may not be any measurable factors. Therefore, it will be important to ask how the new logo will be used and fits into their new business model.

A good design with a huge influence on the success of a company’s marketing strategy is as good a clear and well-set goals.

Actually, the easy way of thinking about the objectives of the design project is to consider success factors.

What is the overall goal of the new design project? What is attempted to be communicated from the project? What are the company goals? Is there a problem attempted to be solved?

Is the Company trying to sell more products or get awareness? What is the overall goal of the new design project? What is attempted to be communicated from the project? What are the company goals? Is there a problem attempted to be solved?

Is the Company trying to sell more products or get the awareness of their product/service? How will success be measured?

The style and tone should be consistent with the company brand in developing the goal. It needs to align with what the project is trying to achieve, together with the action needed to be taken by the customers.


Define Your Target Audience

How do you satisfy someone that you barely know?

The truth is that it’s hard to do that.

To have an impact on your target audience, you must understand the diverse customer segment as a business in trying to reach out.

After all, If you aren’t sure who you want to reach out with the value you deliver, it is prudent to know who the ideal customers are.

Be sure to have an idea of the customer who buys your products or uses your services.

Describe the usual customer – What’s their age range, lifestyle, and gender? Employment, income, tastes, views, and attitudes? What’s the demographic information of these customers? Remember, a design project made out of the context of the target audience might not be well communicated.

For example, here is a website designed for teenagers is going to look and work a bit differently than one designed for corporate decision-makers.

Outline The Scope Of The Design Project

What is the project? Why is it needed? What materials are needed?

Actually, sometimes the project scope may be obvious from the goals of a project – if the client’s goals are to sell their vision through a well-designed corporate website, then they?ll need a well-communicating landing page.

Basically, not every project is similar.

As some clients may want a completely custom solution. Others may want to adopt an existing design style or a template design.

If it’s not obvious, it’s important to ask.


Consider this to define the scope of the design project:

  • If a logo is needed, is it a typeface, an image or both?
  • If there are print files needed, what sizes and formats?
  • If it’s a web design project, is it one page or multipage website? What is the Call To Action that needs to be emphasized?
  • If there are social media files, which platforms does the company use?
  • If it is an Ad campaign or new branding, who is responsible for the project in making decisions? What are the formats needed for all the deliverables?


Here is a point to note: Consider the deadline in outlining the scope of the project. If the project is recurring, it may be important to mark when each of the deliverables is due.

For example, a logo design for either print or web, or both, remember to indicate the file formats needed (i.e., JPG, PNG, PDF), size information (i.e., 300×250 pixels), and any other important details needed to deliver the right assets.

Therefore, make sure to know the extent of the project – what platforms will be covered and how the design files will be used.

This will help to know how the design will work on the various media and how to integrate on the different collaterals.


Identify Your Competition

Why do they think a particular company or companies are their competition? What do they offer that the others don’t? What does the competition offer that they don’t? What makes them unique?

Remember that, in a competitive market segment the best way to create an outstanding design project is analyzing your competitors and learn.

The trick is to build on their visual strengths and monitor their weaknesses in your communication.


Here are a few insights to help evaluate your competitors:

  • How have they applied their first impression?
  • Is it clear on their value offered to the customers?
  • Are they accessible through their contact details?
  • Is their message clear and consistent?
  • Do they have storytelling attached to their company?
  • What kind of tone and style of communication has the company use?


Wouldn’t you prefer to visit a site with content and functionality to your need? Of course, you would.
It is very easy for a customer to seek for your competitor site in the process of evaluating the value proposition if they see the functionality and valuable content.

The truth is competitive analysis can also identify with other functional ideas or discover greater opportunities.


Provide Schedule / Deadline

The schedule is almost as important as the budget.

Sometimes clients have certain deadlines that they want to meet. Ensure to give the designer a detailed schedule of the project and set a realistic deadline for the completion of the work.

In the case, the client has an unclear schedule it is would be prudent to consult with the designer in the workable timeline comparable with the immense of the project.

Not sure where to start?


I’ve outlined the seven-step for creating your project schedules below:

  • Identify and outline the deliverables to get a better sense of the scope of the project.
  • Define the sequence of activities for all the deliverables you listed. This is to identify with the flow of the project and give you an idea of when you need to loop in certain members of your team.
  • Determine the resources required to accomplish the project. This would include the time needed, as well as the individual contributor or team needed to complete a specific deliverable of the project.
  • Identify external factors that could influence your project. These may include the key decision-makers in the project.
  • Establish key milestones and final deadlines for your project. These will range from the intended dates for completion of the deliverables, to the checking in with your client and your own team to solicit feedback.
  • Create your schedule (s) from the information and details.
  • Monitoring the progress of your project and assessing that progress against the schedule, to stay on top of your workflow and re-forecast your deadlines.

So take into account the various stages of the design project such as ideation, concept development, production, and delivery creating a schedule.


Specify Your Budget

In a nutshell, a budget is to dictate how much is to be invested in a project.

This is usually dictated by the quality of the creative solution – that’s the value being transferred to the client in exchange for revenue.

Just to make things clear, a solid budget is to ensure you don’t overreach, overspend and end up running out of money.

Having that in mind, as best the budgeting gets the greatest value proposition at a creative level, and so is the maximizing profit margins at a business level.

For instance, It is important to give a budget guideline in which to design. You wouldn’t wish to design a company profile that the company can’t afford to print.

Make sure to define whether the design budget is separate from the printing. Do they need web development? If so, did they take cost consideration and have a separate budget for that?

Facts: be realistic with your clients about both their budget and schedule needs. If you know you are unable to do something within a certain budget or schedule, tell them upfront. It is suitable to offer alternative solutions, if possible.


  • Here are a few tips to consider for every design project budget:
  • Be sure to discuss and clarify the client needs.
  • Develop the right team of experts to deliver on the creative solution.
  • Outline the project plan which includes the scope (deliverables), timings and the budget.
  • Share and discuss the plan with the client, until a mutual agreement is met.


If the client already has a budget set for the project, include it in the project plan and discuss it with the designer.

In the case, the designer’s estimate exceeds the budget, actually talk over it and agree upon realistic expectations, deliverables, and the project costs.


How to Obtain Effective Results from a Design Brief

If you want to attain an effective design project be certain it starts with getting the design brief clear and concise.

A well-designed questionnaire gets the client to think, and gets to the bottom of what they want from their design project.

A formal questionnaire can be useful for clients who are new to working with professional designers.

Likewise, arranging for an interview is also important so as to ask for more information or clarification if necessary.

Generally you able to identify with a certain aspect of the project or the client’s ideas from a discussion.

Never underestimate having a design brief template. You are able to show your professionalism and ultimately saves a lot of time (for both the client and designer) and resource.

How do you develop your design brief and how does it work for you?

Paul S

Founder and Team Lead of Simpaul Design, a brand strategy and design agency in Nairobi, Kenya. Here at Simpaul Design, we work with brands across various categories with a focus on connecting with consumers and building brands that people want to be a part of. We specialize in brand identity and strategy, UX/UI, and brand transformation.