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How to Nail your Design Brief

by Bluestep Solutions

on 23rd November 2018

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Briefs are so important (and not the underwear sort, although they’re important too).

A clear and detailed brief can be the difference between receiving a first draft that makes you huff in frustration or a first draft that makes you smile; between painstaking rounds of amends or nailing it first time.

The thing with any sort of creative work is that it’s subjective and that means there are a million and one ways of interpreting a piece of work and deciding whether or not it’s ‘good’. All designers will think what they’ve produced is great work, otherwise they wouldn’t send it to a client in the first place.

However, whether it meets your objectives or not is a different matter and that’s where your perfect brief will help. Here are a few things to consider when briefing an agency with a new project:

Detail, detail, detail

Give all detail that you think is relevant. This information will help a designer to build a picture in their minds of what you want them to do.

Of course if it’s a simple A5 flyer you’re after with an agency who knows you inside out, you probably don’t need to write 500 pages on your company’s history but essentially, all necessary detail gives your brief context.

Give background information

Why do you need what you’re asking for? Have you done similar projects in the past that/haven’t worked?

This section can also be used to cover the scope and scale of your project, your intended audience, examples of other work you like, what you don’t like and the branding tools (logos, colours, straplines) you want to include, as well as the key decision-makers the designer will need to work with.

What are the objectives?

What is the most important thing that you want this piece of work to say or do? Designers often get briefs from clients asking for 25 messages to be included in the work but told to ‘keep it punchy’.

Most communications pieces can only ever effectively convey three messages: any more and you risk it becoming confusing, chaotic and frankly, not something that your audience is going to get any value from.

If you’re clear about your objectives and your priorities it will help a designer know exactly which the most important aspects are to convey.

Be specific about what you want and when you want it

This is where your deliverables come into play. Is it for web or print? Portrait or landscape? Are there particular dimensions it needs to fill? Do you need different versions creating for additional channels?

When do you need it for? And this doesn’t just mean when is the final deadline but what are your deadlines in order to get there? If you’re on holiday for a week within the project and so will need to feedback before you go, include this. If you know it takes your head honcho two weeks to review anything then buffer this into your interim deadlines.  A project usually requires multiple stages of sign off so it’s best to ensure that everyone has capacity to fulfil their requirements in order to get there.

Talk it out

Always arrange a time with your designer to discuss your brief, even if it’s just over the phone. It allows any questions to be asked and fully considered and may even shed further light on what your overall expectations are and even if there are limitations that might affect your project. It’s far better to address any issues up front, rather than discover them in the nail-biting hours before sign off!


It may look like a bit of effort but getting your brief on point from the off will really help your project in the long-run. Like with all things, you get what you put in.

With that it mind, we’re off to get some salad *sighs pushing cake away*

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