The Design Brief

What is a design brief? It’s the starting point for a successful outcome. Wikipedia’s definition of a design brief is “a written document for a design project developed by a person or team (the ‘designer’ or ‘design team’) in consultation with the ‘client’. They outline the deliverables and scope of the project including any products or works (function and aesthetics), timing and budget.”

Why is it needed? Every design project starts with a ‘blank canvas’ and this is where precious time is consumed. When you provide a brief you are providing dots, it’s a designer’s responsibility to connect those dots. What some people don’t realise is a graphic designer traditionally follows instructions. Professionals such as marketers and advertising executives are not required to have design skills, their purpose is to brainstorm and develop ideas/concepts. They then work with a creative to bring the idea to life.

Graphic design is about problem solving and adding value. It’s a process of visual communication that combines ideas, imagery and text to appropriately communicate information to an audience. The process is a team effort and that initial idea comes from the client. Think of communicating a brief to a designer like a visit to a restaurant. You don’t simply ask the waiter/waitress for food and drink, you tell him or her the specifics, right down to the brand of beverage and how you want your food prepared. The same principles apply to your engagement with a graphic designer.

Admittedly, completing a design brief can be daunting and in some cases very time consuming. An in depth brief isn’t always necessary for every project, but there are key elements required even for small jobs. You can search online and find many resources regarding advice on how to complete a design brief, but here’s six points I feel need to be covered.

  1. What do you need? What are your goals?
  2. What copy (text) and pictures are needed?
  3. What are the specifications?
  4. Have you got a benchmark in mind?
  5. What is your budget?
  6. What is the time scale/deadline?

Anyone who engages me will receive a short document with explanations for the points above. There is more involved if the project involves branding, rebranding or a website. I will cover the point regarding the budget in another post, but for most projects the above points are key to a successful outcome.

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