The Design Brief

10/10/2008

If you are getting an item of marketing material designed it is very important to ensure that you brief designers correctly.

The benefits of working with a design company who really get inside their clients heads and get a solid design brief from them are immense. Learning from experience we have found that if the design brief has not been conducted correctly much time and effort can be wasted from our side and on our clients side. Also, a design might look super but it may not work for the client or their target audience because it is not strategically applied.

Some people think that the way to brief a design agency is to tell them exactly what to do. However this doesn’t always yield the best results because it elevates any professional expertise on behalf of the designers. At the same time if you give a creative team free reign without any guidelines then you could end up with some extremely strange and unsuitable designs! So how do you give a brief that is helpful, that guides, and yet allows a design team to use their natural creativity to create a purpose driven solution which works for your business?

Most people who come to us for work are not design professionals. They may have some experience in marketing but over-all they are looking to be guided. We take this responsibility very seriously and what we do is ask them to answer a few simple questions. We felt that some of these questions might be useful to anybody considering briefing a designer and so have included them below. These questions do not tell us exactly what to do but are there to form the foundation of our designs. They help us to make strategic and purpose driven designs.

We would normally simply discuss these face to face so as to get a really good idea of where our clients are coming from. However, we do receive a lot of written briefs based around these questions. Both are useful and ideally a combination of both a written and discussed brief will lead to us being able to soak up exactly what is required for a project.

Have a read through and see what you think. We hope it helps you get the best out of your designs. We would also love to hear from you if you wanted to give us a brief for us to quote on, simply contact us » .

Design Brief

Project Overview

  • What specifically does your company do?
  • Describe your corporate mission.
  • Please give an overview of the company’s history and in particular its design strategy over each period.
  • Please give examples of previous design and brand – and in particular, the reasons for the changes along the way.
  • Please describe your future objectives for the next 5 years.
  • Who is your perceived competition?  Please list their websites for us to view.
  • Please list the final deliverables your require from Attitude Design Ltd – if they are printed materials, please describe the size and quantity of each one and whether you would like Attitude Design to manage the printing of them.
  • Please indicate your ideal deadline for each item.

Branding

  • What are your unique selling points (purchase factors) of your services or products?
  • What are their tangible and emotional benefits to the target audiences?
  • What are your unique selling points (purchase factors) over your competitors?
  • What are their tangible and emotional benefits to the target audiences?
  • Who is your target audience(s)? Please list in order of priority.
  • In those target audiences please define if there are any influencers or decision makers and how you’d expect them to make a decision to hire you.
  • Please clearly describe the brand and its benefits in 10 words or less?
  • What are your organizational values?
  • Please describe any changes you wish to portray in the new branding.

Logo Design

  • Please give examples of the current logo and how it appears on your materials.
  • How much of the existing logo do you want to be carried through into the new?
  • What do you dislike (if anything) about your current logo?
  • What do you like (if anything) about your current logo?
  • What do you want the new design of the logo to convey to the target audience?
  • Use adjectives to describe how you want your organization to be perceived.
  • Do you have a colour preference?
  • Are there any colours or shapes that you feel would be perceived negatively in your company’s line of business?
  • Please give examples of at least 5 logos which you feel portray some of the things you wish to portray in the new design (a good place to look for examples is Logo Pond). Please describe which areas you like about each example.

Website Design

  • What is your current websites URL?
  • Who manages the hosting and what are the details of the hosting package is it currently on?
  • What do you like about your current website (if anything)?
  • What do you dislike like about your current website (if anything)?
  • Do know how many visitors visit the current site? If so please give an indication of how many unique visitors you receive per month on average and also what the top 5 visited pages on the site are.
  • Please list all of the pages you would like on the new website.
  • What is the main objective of the website?
  • Please list the top 3 pages which you think will most aid this objective.
  • Please list any other objectives of the new website in order of priority.
  • Please list the foreseen website user groups for the new site (e.g. parents, children etc.).
  • Will you be able to provide the copy for the new website?
  • Do you have any special functionality requirements for the new website (e.g. CMS, E-commerce, contact forms etc)? Please describe.
  • Please give examples of at least 5 websites which you feel portray some of the things you wish to portray in the new design (a good place to look for examples is http://www.csselite.com/ or http://bestwebgallery.com/). Please describe which areas you like about each example.
  • What do you want the design of the website to convey to the target audience?
  • How much of the current website design would you like to keep in the new one?

So there we are – all the questions we would normally ask a new client. If you have any suggestions to anything else which isn’t covered in these questions we’d love to hear about them, please feel free to comment below.

Other brief writing resources

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6 Responses to “The Design Brief”

  1. Mike Laurie

    10th October 2008

    No designer I know would ever read all of that stuff. That’s not a brief, it’s a questionnaire.

  2. Matt Davies Attitude Design

    10th October 2008

    That’s our point Mike, we take the briefing stage very seriously so as not to waste time later. Perhaps you could give us an example of how a brief should be conducted from your point of view?

  3. Roger Chasteauneuf

    11th October 2008

    I think its a really interesting subject, and am reading a book specifically on this at the moment. Im kinda with you guys on this one Attitude, I think these questions are relevant. I can understand what Mike means, but if its in the shape of a face to face meeting it doesnt come across so heavy. Really interesting article Attitude. This is an area of design that there is so much scope for improvement.

  4. Adam

    17th November 2008

    This is a very good post.
    Sometimes as a designer you work automatically & not paying the attention to the whole picture, witch cost in a lot wasted time of work.
    I believe by sitting down with the costumer on these points can make design
    Eventually better & faster.
    Thanks again
    Adam ,Israel

  5. debut

    20th November 2008

    A brief is a questionnaire. If the client can’t answer these questions then there is no hope of fulfilling the brief for them correctly. I agree that there are a lot of questions but if you dissect the discussions you have (or should be having) with your client, many of these questions will get asked at some point.

    Steve

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