How To Write A Design Brief That Gets Results

Do you like eating at Subway? What’s your favorite part of the whole Subway experience? Subway became popular worldwide for the variety they offered their customers in the fresh food category. The experience of ordering a custom sandwich to your exact requirements blew customers’ minds away. 

Now, imagine you tell them to give you a 6-inch sub with veggies and meat; would that translate into an equally satisfactory experience? We don’t think so. That order could translate into a whole bunch of different sandwiches. And if you have a specific experience in mind, you’re leaving it up to chance as to whether you’ll actually get it. 

That’s the significance of a good design brief. It gets you the results you’re looking for. 

At Kimp, we pride ourselves on being a team of graphic designers who help customers get what they’re looking for. The same kind of satisfaction they’d get from a sub made just the way they  want it. If not, more. 

What helps get there? Our clients and their well-crafted design briefs. 

What is a design brief?

A design brief is a blueprint that takes your designer through the vision you have for your design assets. A good design brief will equip your designer to deliver an output that matches your expectations.

Design briefs help you achieve three things: 

  • Organizing your thoughts and ideas
  • Defining the end goal you’re hoping to achieve 
  • And clearly articulating the salient features you are looking for in your designs 

There are many ways to frame a design brief based on the project type. It could be a one-page document, a screen recording of the type of design you’d like to achieve, with you explaining why, or a mood board. What it should do is to convey your vision to your designer with clarity. 

Why do you need a design brief? 

Knowing what you want is the first step to getting what you want. When you’re clear about your end goal, you can convey that information to your designer and get their help to achieve it. And that is where a design brief helps you out. 

Good design helps you attract users, gain credibility, and stand apart from your competitors. But, how do you achieve that magical good design?

Flexible Designer + Clear Design Brief = Good Design 

Kimp, as a team, has managed to provide flexible, reliable, and competent design solutions for customers worldwide. What comes to our aid and makes our customers happy is the presence of a clear design brief. 

“I am very happy to recommend for all your graphic design needs. Kimp was very quick to respond to our many requests and ensured that completed work was delivered on time and to the high quality that we required. I found it very easy to discuss our needs and if any editing was needed this was completed quickly and in a very professional manner with excellent results.”

– Sandra Mayne

Drafting the perfect design brief for best results

All this talk about writing a design brief that gets results is pretty pointless if we don’t share pointers on how to achieve it. So Kimp has curated the features of some of the best design briefs our designers have received over the past few years.

We’re sharing these ideas with you in the hopes that they’ll help you fine-tune your design workflow. And get the results you need in fewer steps, too.

Let’s say a design brief is a map. And in order to get from Point A to Point B there are landmarks along the way that have to be accounted for and crossed. It may not seem necessary to mention these landmarks when you can just refer to the end destination. 

But these details can change your design brief from just a vague set of instructions to the holy grail for your designer. 

“The details are not the details. They make the design”

– Charles Eames 
Who is the client?

Before you discuss the design requirements, the conversation must center on who you are as a company and a business. What are your offerings? How is your brand positioned in the market? And what is your story?

Our experiences with customers worldwide has shown us that there are two features of any given design that increase the chances it’ll be approved:

  • The design captures the brand’s language, look and feel
  • The design reinforces the company’s personality 

What does this mean to you, the client? The more you tell a designer about your story, product, USP, and brand value, the better the design will be. 

So, beginning the design brief with a brief overview of your company is a great way to set the stage. 

What is the project scope?

Now we get down to the details. The next vital section in the design brief is all about the project. This is the place to share all you can about the design you need to get done and its scope in its entirety.

Give the designer some background and context about the project. Is this about a new product launch, or are you rebranding yourself in the market? Or maybe you’re entering a new market. Whatever the dynamics you’re dealing with, let your designer know! These details will help them understand your requirements with better clarity.

Include broad goals and aspirations that you have for the project. You can cover the specifics in the later sections, but this section should provide the bird’s eye view of the whole assignment. 

What should the design achieve?

From a broader scope, we enter into specifics here.

This section should ideally describe the metrics you will use to measure the success of the project. Are you looking for a higher CTR or engagement rate? Perhaps a stronger branding response from the design project?

Your design may be something that doesn’t have one specific end goal or metric tied to it. But it is good to think about the purpose of each design asset. However broad or specific that might be. Should the letterhead design project convey a specific message to your partners? Can the logo be a preview to a new product you may launch?

These details add a dimension to the designers’ work and enable approval with minimal iterations. As we said, the story helps shape the design you aspire for. 

Who is the design targeted at?

It’s hard to deny that different people react to art in different ways. Some artists and theorists have spent their lives’ work proving that art is subjective. Design is also art, however commercialized it may be.

But when you’re targeting a particular audience there will be common threads in what appeals to them, and what they will react positively to.

Describing the target audience for a particular design asset will get you designs that will be received well by your customer base. Designers spend a lot of time agonizing over the finer details like font, color, typeface, imagery, and style. These decisions will become a lot more effective if they know their designs will be seen by.

Including the demographics and characteristics of the target audience will make your design brief a lot more effective. 

What’s the design style/creative direction you prefer? 

You may be looking to designers as the experts when it comes to design style or creative areas. But they still need to know your preferences and taste. Like we said in the Subway example, your sandwich is only going to be as good as what you order. So if you like a certain sauce or spice level, make sure you say so. 

You are the client, and you have been with your company longer than the designer. So, they’ll be relying on you to provide at least a general sense of what you need. 

Share a couple of pictures, your favorite design styles, and describe the look you want. Do you like geometrical features or curved shapes? What’s the color palette of your brand? Do you have any specific imagery in mind? 

You can choose to be as brief or as specific as you want. The designer will then take the cue from there and take the design ahead.

Source: Milanote

Kimp Tip: While you share your favorite styles and creative ideas, remember that you hired the designer for a reason. Entrust them with the final product and if they take the design in a direction you didn’t anticipate, ask them to explain their ideas. You may just uncover a new creative direction for your brand. 

What are the deliverables?

Now, we are down to the business end of it. This is the commercial part of the interaction.

Designers need specific data from their clients on the final deliverables:

  1. Where are the design assets going to be used?
  2. Are they for web or print? 
  3. What’s the size/quality/format/resolution you seek?

Communicating these details in the design brief ensures there are no gaps in expectations and the delivery process is smooth. 

Kimp Tip: When mentioning dimensions, be sure to refer to which dimension is the width and which is the height. This will save you a lot of time in the event that you’re following a different convention than your designer.

What are the timelines and budgets? 

“A design isn’t finished until somebody is using it.”

– Brenda Laurel 

Even though these details may not look like they have too much bearing on the final design, this information is vital for the design team. Resource allocation, project management, and final deliverables are mapped out based on the budget and deadlines you’re working with.

The sign of a successful design project is not just in the design but also in the final delivery.

Being transparent about the timeline and the budget from the get-go is a key requirement of any good design brief. 

Details that help the designer do an informed job

You can always find ways to enhance and tailor the design brief to better the design process. 

Some pieces of information that add value to the design brief for a designer include: 

Competitor information

Try and answer these questions: 

  • Who do you consider your competition? 
  • What do you like/dislike about their designs?

This gives an overview of the market, competitors, and your personal taste to your designer. Going back to our map analogy, it’s like letting your designer know about landmarks en route to the end destination. It’ll help ensure that they’re’ on the right track and that you’re on the same page. 

Existing marketing collaterals used (online and offline) 

If you have existing marketing collateral and design assets in use, share them with the designer. For the design to work, it has to exist in tandem with your company’s brand assets.

This might include design assets like letterhead, business cards, website landing pages, flyers, and posters. Whatever you’re actively using to promote your brand. These assets can help your designer understand what is already in place and how they can take the current design project ahead. 

You can also share what you like and dislike about the current designs so that the designer can make informed decisions. 

Workflow and Approval process 

The design team would need to know how the workflow is going to be. They may or may not have a specific design workflow. But it is good to share what your expectations of the process are.

Include details about who will be approving the design and what the hierarchy is. Designers can then easily reach out to the stakeholders for any approval/information they may need for the project completion. 

Any hard exclusions 

If you dislike a particular font or a style, let the designer know. Hard exclusions in designs, styles, and fonts are vital for the designers to avoid unnecessary or excessive revisions.

As important as it is to share the pictures of the work you like, it is equally important to share what you don’t like. Do you hate a competitor’s logo that you don’t think is effective? Show it to the designer so that they know what not to do. And why. 

Structures and Tools that help you get the most out of your Design Brief 

The whole process of getting a design brief prepared  is not something every client can devote time to. We suggest using some basic structures and tools so that you can make a design brief that works without spending an inordinate amount of time on it. 

We know your time is money, so we have curated some popular tools for writing design briefs: 

Design Brief Templates:

There are many design brief templates online that help you structure your briefs with minimal editing while allowing you to provide maximum information.

Some of them are linked below:

You can also choose to create a one-page document with all the details. Some of the most popular design brief formats from our clients look like this:

Source: Aha
Source: Aha

If words feel troublesome, clients are always welcome to tell their story through pictures. A mood board with the color palette, company profile, competitor images, likes, and dislikes can get the job done.

A design brief mood board can also be edited later to add or remove elements.

Words and pictures are such great tools on their own. So why not combine them in videos for a double-whammy? Design meetings can be strenuous and time-consuming. Make the whole process more efficient with tools that are readily available to screen-record your website or marketing asset. Be sure to share what you like/dislike, what the project scope is, where will the design be used, etc. 

You can get as creative as you want.

All it matters is the job gets done, and you get a design that actually works for you and your business. 

Kimp Tip: Spending time on writing an elaborate design brief may not be your cup of tea. But, it is an investment that will reap returns, more than you can imagine. Have a master design brief and tweak it every time you work with the designer for a new project. 

It makes your work easy while ensuring all your design assets sing the same song. 

Find a Designer that makes your Brief Shine 

Now that you have sorted your design brief, are you looking for a graphic designer who can deliver based on your expectations?

Kimp is proud to have been a partner in design creation for companies across the world with impeccable satisfaction rates and fast turnaround times.

Check out work here and contact us here to book a call to learn more. And when you’re ready, sign up for a free trial here.

Let’s get those design ideas out of your mind, off your to-do list, and in front of your customers.