Design brief

Derek Green Tuesday, June 11, 2013

This blogpost was originally published on the [gawr-juhs] Blogger site in July 2013 under the title “I SPY…”. It summarises what clients should consider putting into the design brief that they give to their chosen creative agency. We still think this is a relevant post, hence why we've included a shortened version in this section.

Browsing through the modest library of design books here in the studio I came across the rather excellent "The SPY Guide to Design and Print." I became aware of this publication when I first joined the Edinburgh College of Art in 1995. Although this book was primarily written for people who commission designers and creative agencies – it covers everything to do with the design and print processes in 72 x A5 pages – it was also considered to be an essential guide for students who were learning their craft and getting to know the industry that they had chosen for their profession.

Although technology has moved on radically in past 18 years, much of the content of this book remains highly relevant. The first chapter is simply called "The Brief" and summaries everything a client should include in a written design brief. Below is a précis of the seven key points that clients should consider and include:

– The Background:  What does your organisation do and how does it do it?
– Project Objectives: What is the purpose of the design project and what do you wish it to achieve for you?
– Project Description: How do you imagine the end product? What will the delivery method be? If you're not sure ask the creative agency to provide suggestions.
– Target Audience: What type of person is the project aimed at? Be specific with demographics, age-ranges etc.
– The Budget: How much do you want spend? Be realistic!
– The Schedule: When is your deadline? Remember shorter timescales will often increase the price of the design process. Allow extra time for print production.
– Your Ideas: Remember to tell the creative agency about the things you like and don't like.

In my opinion writing a creative brief shouldn't be thought of as being a chore and needing a huge amount of time. My advice is not to write too much and perhaps limit yourself to a maximum of 100 words for each point. This will help you to clarify your thoughts and reasons as to why you are embarking on the design project in the first place. It should also enable you to put the whole brief onto one side of an A4 sheet. 

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