How To Write A Stellar Design Brief (With Examples)

How To Write A Stellar Design Brief (With Examples) by GoVisually

Imagine this: You are a product manager and you are working rigorously with the team to align the company objectives with the product. The challenges that you are facing are;

  • Lack of alignment and clarity on project goals, objectives, and expectations between designers and clients.
  • Designing team lacks the understanding of the target audience, market, and competition for the design project.
  • Inefficient communication and collaboration during the design process leading to confusion and delays.

These challenges can lead to 

  • Failure of your product in the market
  • Higher walk-away ratio
  • Loss of revenue, year after year.

One way to end this constant struggle is by creating a strong, research-backed design brief. The design brief is the key to everything from illustrating the idea to defining the budget, enlisting stakeholders, and communicating the project’s timeline and purpose. It sets out the path the entire team has to follow and provides directions.

With the help of industry experts, we have curated a guide on how to create the most efficient and robust design brief. Here it is.

 

What Is A Design Brief?

A design brief is a document that contains the budget, goals, audience demographic, missions, resources, timeline, and much more. It gives a detailed overview of every aspect of the project. The design brief is usually created by the manager of a company’s creative department. It ensures that all stakeholders are on the same page and clearly understand the project. 

Any creative project needs a design brief. Numerous agencies can help a company come up with an innovative plan for its project. The document has various sections that give a clear idea about the project to everyone involved. 

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 The Benefits Of Writing A Design Brief

Benefits-of-writing-a-design-brief

Starting the project with a design brief can essentially eliminate a lot of time-consuming tasks. For example:

  • Design briefs acts as the central documents for the internal teams as well as stakeholders. Hence it improves communication, avoiding misunderstanding between the teams.
  • The design brief outlines the targeted audience in detail, helping product teams make informed decisions about the design direction.
  • It keeps the stakeholders informed about the project’s progress. This, in turn, improves project visibility and trust among clients and teams.
  • It sets clear expectations for the project, allowing the design team to focus on their creativity and produce designs that meet the client’s needs.

 

Who writes the design brief?

We now know that any design project should begin with a design brief that includes an overview of the organization, the problem that needs to be solved, and the expectations. 

Now the question is: Who writes the design brief?

There is no certain answer to this. Various opinions exist on this. So the best answer is that different departments in the companies should come together to create a robust design brief. Here are some more specific answers:

1. Collaborative Teams:

As explained above, the most insightful design brief is creative when internal teams come together to collaborate and discuss the design brief. These teams can include;

Product Team:

  • Provide product vision and roadmap.
  • Define product goals and requirements.
  • Represent the end-user’s perspective.
  • Contribute to the target audience and market research.

Design Team:

  • Offer creative direction and design expertise.
  • Suggest visual styles and design inspiration.
  • Provide input on design constraints and deliverables.
  • Ensure brand consistency and style guide adherence.

Marketing Team:

  • Represent the business objectives and marketing strategies.
  • Contribute to competitor analysis and positioning.
  • Provide insights into target audience personas.
  • Define desired messaging and brand tone.

Depending on the industries, the teams can vary.

2. Client

For creative agencies and other similar agencies, a design brief is usually provided by the clients. The design brief becomes a collaborative point for both parties, contributing and approving. A design brief offered by the client should :

  • Define project goals, objectives, and desired outcomes
  • Specify target audience, market, and competitor information
  • Outline branding guidelines, visual preferences, and constraints
  • Communicate project requirements, deliverables, and expectations
  • Provide reference materials, mood boards, or design inspiration
  • Set project timelines and budget parameters

 

Design Brief Outline:

  • Name of the project: This section contains the name of the project that is being worked on. 
  • Background information about the company: This section provides the designers with all the necessary information about the company and the brand’s message. 
  • The project’s objective: This section details all the creative team’s work for the company. 
  • The target audience for the project: This section gives an overview of the target audience for the project, including their age, gender, habits, needs, preferences, etc. 
  • Competition: This section outlines what the company’s competitors are doing and suggests steps you can take to stand out from the rest. 
  • The key message: This section outlines the project’s goals and missions and the change it will bring to the industry. 
  • The critical consumer benefit: This section identifies the problems consumers face, which this project will aim to solve. 
  • Budget: This section lets you know the project’s total budget and divide it among various stages and tasks. 
  • Distribution of the project: This section contains information about the steps to be taken once the project is complete and ready for distribution. 

 

How To Write A Design Brief

Before you start writing the design brief, you should have detailed conversations with stakeholders. These discussions will help you better understand the company’s message and what it is trying to achieve with the project.

Once you have extensive knowledge about what you need to write, you can follow these simple steps to write an excellent design brief. 

1. Name The Project

The first step might seem relatively straightforward, but it is essential for every campaign. It would help if you decided on a project name before working on any other aspect. 

Establishing the project’s name will stop people from calling it various things, and it will provide everyone with a clear idea about what the campaign is about. If people don’t have one name to refer to, it can confuse and take away from the core message. 

 

2. Summarize The Company Background And Information 

Having a section in the design brief containing all the company’s vital information is an important step. People who work in creative agencies that write design briefs need to include this section to clarify which company the project is for. 

Even if you are creating the brief for an in-house project, you need to include the company’s background. This step ensures that all the people working on the project know the brand and its message. 

The company background and information should not include generic information you can find on the company’s website. You need to tailor the information according to the project and provide details that people can keep in mind when working on the design.  Some questions you can consider asking yourself when writing this section include:

  • Why has the company decided to launch this project?
  • What is happening in the market that has led the company to come up with this project?
  • Has the company worked on a similar project before? 

 

3. Project Overview

For creating a project overview, include the following data in the design brief;

  1. A clear and concise description of your project.
  2. Design that needs to be created
  3. Client’s expectation from this project.
  4. Understand what is within scope and what is out of scope.
  5. Reference materials like 
    • Brand guidelines and style guides
    • Mockups
    • Moodboards
    • Existing design systems
    • pattern libraries, or component libraries to follow etc.
    • Examples of previous successful designs for inspiration.
  6. Target dimensions, resolutions, or specifications for project deliverables.
  7. Platforms or channels where the design will be used (web, mobile, print, etc.).
  8. File format requirements for design files (PSD, AI, Sketch, etc.)
  9. Technical constraints or considerations (if any).
  10. Tone and voice of the project.

 

4. Define the Goals and Objectives

By defining the goals and objectives in a design brief, you are emphasizing the project’s importance to the team and other stakeholders. Understanding the exact goals and objectives of the campaign or creative asset will help convey the right message and tone to the audience. Here are some questions you can ask yourself when working on this step.

  • For goals (the overall purpose behind the project):
    • What is the primary goal you aim to accomplish with this design project? 
    • How does this project align with your overall business objectives or marketing strategy?
    • Are there any specific metrics or Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that will define the success of this project?
    • What are the long-term goals or desired outcomes you hope to achieve through this design initiative?
    • How will this project contribute to enhancing your brand image, awareness, or customer experience?
  • For objectives ( the exact milestones after the project ends),
    • Quantify the specific targets or benchmarks you want to achieve through this project (e.g., increase website traffic by X%, boost sales by Y%, bring these many leads, reduce churn rate by Z%, etc.).
    • What are the measurable objectives you want to accomplish within a specific timeframe (e.g., by the end of the quarter, year, etc.)?
    • How will you measure the effectiveness of the design in achieving the stated objectives (e.g., user engagement, conversion rates, customer feedback, etc.)?
    • Are there any specific features, functionalities, or design elements that are critical to meeting the project’s objectives?
    • How will achieving the objectives for this project contribute to broader organizational goals or initiatives?

 

5. Define The Target Audience

Everyone involved with the project must be aware of who the project is for. You must define the target audience for the campaign and let everyone know who will benefit from the product or service the company is launching. 

For this step, you can categorize the targeted audience by their

  • Age
  • Demographics
  • Buying habits
  • Trends
  • Product/Service Feedback

Some additional steps can be,

  • Defining the research process that needs to be included while conducting target audience research. 
  • Creating customer profiles and buyer personas.
  • Adding information repositories like sales call recordings, feedback & survey responses— to support audience research.

 

6. Describe The Competitors

Being aware of what competitors are doing can benefit the entire team. Once you know what the bar is, you have a better chance of crossing it. This section can provide the company and creative team with the motivation they need to exceed expectations. 

Questions you can consider asking yourself to get this step right,

  • Who are my direct and indirect competitors?
  • Which specific competitors should we benchmark against or differentiate from in terms of design style, user interface, or overall brand experience?
  • Have any of our competitors recently rebranded, redesigned their products/services, or launched new design-focused marketing campaigns that we should analyze?
  • Do you want to adopt a successful strategy from the competitor or experiment with a new one?
  • Are there any gaps, pain points, or unmet needs in the current competitive landscape that our design can address more effectively?
  • What are the strongest points of your competitors versus yours?
  • What do you like about the competitor’s designs?
  • What do you not like about the competitor’s designs?
  • How do customer reviews, feedback, or sentiment analysis compare the design and user experience of our offerings versus our competitors?

 

7. Describe The Competitors

Being aware of what competitors are doing can benefit the entire team. Once you know what the bar is, you have a better chance of crossing it. This section can provide the company and creative team with the motivation they need to exceed expectations. 

Questions you can consider asking yourself to get this step right,

  • Who are my direct and indirect competitors?
  • Which specific competitors should we benchmark against or differentiate from in terms of design style, user interface, or overall brand experience?
  • Have any of our competitors recently rebranded, redesigned their products/services, or launched new design-focused marketing campaigns that we should analyze?
  • Do you want to adopt a successful strategy from the competitor or experiment with a new one?
  • Are there any gaps, pain points, or unmet needs in the current competitive landscape that our design can address more effectively?
  • What are the strongest points of your competitors versus yours?
  • What do you like about the competitor’s designs?
  • What do you not like about the competitor’s designs?
  • How do customer reviews, feedback, or sentiment analysis compare the design and user experience of our offerings versus our competitors?

 

8. Budget and Timeline

The most crucial step is to set a clear budget and timeline after discussing the project overview, objectives, and goals. Get opinions on this from your team members and other stakeholders.

Questions you can consider discussing while defining this step;

  • What will be the duration of the project overall, from start to finish?
  • What is the exact budget for this project?
  • How would you allocate the budget and the timeline throughout the project duration
  • Have all potential costs been accounted for (design, development, testing, asset creation, etc.)?
  • Are there any budget constraints or limitations we should be aware of upfront?
  • What payment terms or schedules need to be established with the client or stakeholders?
  • Are there any budget constraints or limitations we should be aware of upfront?
  • What payment terms or schedules need to be established with the client or stakeholders?

Pro Tip: Keep the budget and the timeline realistic to obtain the best results.

 

9. Develop The Key Message

Defining the campaign’s critical message can be one of the trickiest parts of writing the design brief. Each stakeholder may have a different opinion about the key message and how it should be defined. You must come up with an impressive answer and satisfy everyone on the team.  

When defining the critical message for the project, you need to ask yourself,

“The company is launching this product or service, so what?”

The “so what” in this question is the key message you want to present to the audience. It would help if you explained why this campaign is essential and needs their attention. 

The key message you develop should inform the audience that the company is aware of its problem, how the product or service solves it, and why it is needed. This approach makes the customer the main character in this project’s journey. 

 

10. State The Key Benefit For The Consumer

When launching a campaign or a project, a company has countless benefits to offer to the consumers. However, it can make the campaign seem directionless if it focuses on all of the advantages of any product or service. 

You must determine the primary benefit the campaign will provide for the consumers and develop the project around this benefit. This would mean constantly developing the critical consumer benefit to streamline the development process. 

Pro Tip: Use the internal repository, such as sales calls, feedback from surveys, etc., to understand your customers’ pain points. Then, create benefits that resolve these pain points. Providing these benefits to your customers will help you gain their trust and establish your company’s credibility.

 

11. Choose A Call To Action

Of course, once your campaign has launched, you need to inform the audience about what they need to do. You must also have a call to action (CTA) that enables your customers to take the necessary action. 

The audience doesn’t have to take any physical action regarding the campaign. You can select a CTA that prompts your audience to change their perspective regarding the brand or spend time thinking about the product or services and the benefits they provide. 

The campaign can have two CTAs for both primary and secondary audiences. However, you should focus mainly on the primary CTA and incorporate the campaign’s key message accordingly. 

 

12. Develop The Distribution Plan

Once the project is complete, you need to decide how the audience will learn about it.

You can do the following to make that happen:

  • Include the various channels you will be using for the launch and distribution of the campaign and how these channels can help reach a wide audience. 
  • Discuss the type of content created to promote the campaign and gain attention from consumers.
  • You need to keep the target audience in mind and come up with strategies to reach them. 

For example, if the target audience is Gen Z, you should avoid wasting money and time on newspaper ads and billboards and focus on social media marketing. Having a clear distribution plan can help you save time and resources and ensure the project’s success.

Design Brief Templates And Examples For Inspiration

1. Design & Creative Brief by GoVisually

Try GoVisually Smartnotes

Centralize creative briefs, client intake documents, meeting notes in one place.

2. Design Brief  for Logo Design by SmartSheet

Design brief example by GoVisually

Source: Smartsheet

3. Graphic Design template by Bonsai

Bonsai Graphhic DESIGN Brief example by GoVisually

Source: Bonsai

Need Help?

We hope our design brief guide helped you understand the ins and outs of design briefs and made the process simpler for you. But if you’re feeling overwhelmed by the design brief creation process, don’t worry. GoVisually can help. On clients’ demand, GoVisually recently launched its creative brief feature. Using our feature, you can streamline the time-consuming process of creating creative briefs, which can take up to hours if done manually.

So, if you are also tired of scattered creative briefs, our powerful new creative brief feature can help you centralize all the creative processes in place. From drafting the creative brief to reviewing and approving the creative asset, everything is possible with GoVisually. 

Ready to take your art and artists to the next level? Book a Demo and experience our latest feature for free!

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Alina Zahid Khan

Alina Zahid Khan

Alina Zahid Khan is a storyteller, brand strategist, and growth manager at GoVisually. She loves creating value-driven content for creative professionals.
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