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Are design briefs a thing of the past?

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Having worked in the design industry for over thirty years, we have noticed things have changed and this is not always for the best.

In days gone by, we were always supplied with something called ‘a brief’; for all you newbies on the block, this is what your client provides you with to give you a picture of what they expect from you. Typically, we would receive a written or typed document detailing what our client would like us to produce, what they are trying to achieve, their ideas on what they think they want and what their competitors are up to. The brief would be a clear message reflecting what they want to say and, most importantly, it would be an indication of their budget and the required schedule. As a client, by writing a brief you can ensure that a designer will hit the mark first time with the added benefit of saving time which will, therefore, ensure a cheaper invoice at the end.


How do I write a design brief?

It is really helpful to give the designer a summary of your business with a brief history of other design/marketing activity you have been involved in. Supply a realistic evaluation of your company’s service/product, and a brief overview of what your competitors are doing too.

Give an explanation of the reason why you need this design project – e.g. a new product or a sales push etc.

Have you undertaken any research around your service/product? What about any advertising you may have done? This could include direct mail, graphic design or public relations etc.

Ensure you have a specific message. Where possible, include information to be shown in the designed item, e.g. taglines, body text, imagery etc.

Who is your target market? Describe the age, gender, income, employment, geography, and lifestyle of the clients you want to reach.

Confirm what you are hoping to achieve. Where possible, make the objectives specific and the results measurable.

The designer should have a detailed and realistic schedule of how you want the project to advance, considering these points:

  • Consultation (research, strategy)
  • Creation (concept and design development)
  • Production (artwork and print procurement)
  • Delivery (handover)

If, as a designer, you’re dealing with a client who hasn’t produced a design brief, it’s important to provide your own questionnaire at the outset.


Square1Are design briefs a thing of the past?
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