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  • Krista Cavender

How to Ensure Your Design Project Meets Your Expectations and Goals – Start with a Design Brief.

Updated: May 4


Whether you are executing one in-house or crafting one for an agency or consultant, the quality of the design brief directly correlates to the quality of the final deliverables.

Providing a design brief to a creative consultant at the onset of a big branding project is the best first step to a successful identity. Without it, your designer will have to make assumptions about your company and its target market. Assumptions can lead a designer on the wrong path and temporarily derail your project costing you more money in the long run. Knowing what to include in your initial design request will make a world of difference when it comes to the quality of your final project.


Who writes the brief?

Anyone can write a design brief. Often a designer or design team will be responsible for creating this document after an initial discovery meeting or call. But a client who can provide a brief to a designer at the onset of any project (or before estimating for any project) can ensure that their project meets all their expectations from the beginning.


The Structure

In general, briefs are, well… brief. They should be 1–3 pages max and organized in sections that are easy to read and scan quickly. This is not the document to copy and paste your entire brand strategy into, although having a brand strategy will help to answer some of the brief’s questions. It’s also not always necessary to have a formal strategy in place to provide a well-structured brief. You just need to know your company well.


Section 1 — Client Details

1. Point of Contact

2. Email

3. Phone

This section will contain the contact information of the person in charge of the design project whether this is an internal project manager or a company contact. This provides the designer with preferred methods of contact should they have any questions.


Section 2 — Company Details

1. Who are you?

2. What do you do?

3. Company values/personality (5 words)

Spending a little extra time on this section to be as concise as possible will help efficiently guide the design process. The 5 descriptive words will help develop many elements of your project. A pro designer can take the values and personality descriptors and translate them into the form, shape, color, and style that will best represent the company as a whole and, more importantly, resonate with its target market.


Section 3 — Competitors

1. Who are your competitors?

2. How do you differentiate yourself?

Knowledge of the competitive landscape is key to quality, differentiated branding and design. Knowing where other businesses are in the industry and being familiar with their branded positioning will illuminate design choices for the pro designer so that your company will stand out amongst a sea of alternatives.


Section 4 — Audience

1. Who is the primary audience?

2. Are there any secondary audiences?

Similar to knowing the competitors, knowledge of the target market, its demographics, desires, pains, and preferences also helps to shape the completed design deliverable. This is where art and psychology meet and a pro designer will know how to leverage the power of emotive design to connect you with the ideal customer.


Section 5 — Project Details

1. What is the project?

2. What is the problem this project solves?

3. Are there any relevant design considerations?

4. What is the deadline?

Lastly, the most important part of the brief takes us from a wide-angle view of the company down to the specifics of the project. Are there any current brand guidelines that need to be followed? What will be the end product? Is it printed or digital? Will it need various formats or color specifications? What is the deadline? The reality is when important details are unknown at the beginning of a project a missed deadline or extraneous costs can result. Be open to brainstorming with a pro designer on how best to solve your marketing objective. Do you need a full re-brand or will a more simplified brand “evolution” work? Trust the experience of a pro designer to help guide you in a direction that best fits your ultimate goal.


Optimally, when it comes to investing time and money into design you want to get it right the first time. Revision upon revision upon revision is a sign that assumptions were made at the beginning of the project which produced a design that neither matched the marketing objectives nor made the client happy. Using a brief to hone the details first keeps the design project efficient, affordable, and on track.

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Want your branding project to meet all your expectations and goals? Reach out.

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