5 Steps to Writing a Killer Design Brief

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Whether you are a designer or the client working with the creative team, design briefs should be something you’re familiar with.

The right design brief will allow both parties to be clear on the project details and the end goal. They ensure the project runs smoothly.

As someone who loves creative design, it’s easy to get super excited about a freelance project and forget to ask the right questions that’ll get you there.

You may have a bunch of great ideas, but ultimately if it’s not aligned with the client’s audience and goals, you won’t have a great result.

Creative design briefs are the most important piece in creating a brilliant product both parties love. They are your layout, your sketch, your rendering, your model — where everything starts.

Set yourself up for success by following these 5 steps of writing a killer design brief. You won’t want to miss this.

1. Background

Who’s the client, what do they do, what’s their mission/vision/goals?

You should never just assume you know the business and what they stand for, even if it’s a well-known company. You should always ask!

Ask the client to explain their business in the simplest terms by how others view them. This shouldn’t be them selling you, it should be them telling you how others perceive them.

Ask questions like:

What’s the size of your business? How long have you been around for? What’s your company’s mission statement and long-term goals?

When you know what they stand for, you leave no room for misinterpretation and will be able to get started on the right foot.

2. Specifics

Who is their target audience and who is their competition?

Have the client describe the target audience they are trying to capture with this particular creative project. Then, have them describe their usual customer.

This is where you should emphasis on being super specific.

Instead of just jotting down the average customer is a twenty-something-year-old in their first job, you should clarify what race, gender, views, and lifestyles a typical customer has.

On the other end of this, you should know the competition of the business you’re working for a variety of reasons.

First, you’ll want to ask the client what competitors might be doing better and at the same time, what makes the business unique.

When you know what to draw attention to, you’ll be able to highlight how they stand out from their competition.

3. Scope

What’s the main goal of this creative design project?

You want to be sure you know the purpose of the project you were hired for. Be sure to know the end result your client wants from this creative piece.

Do they want a customer to take action and buy their product, or are they going for a re-branding effort and want to change their image with a logo? What do you want the audience to think and do?

When you know what the client wants to communicate and the goal of the project, this will dictate what creative direction you’ll go in.

During this phase, you should also note what the client loves and hates. Is there a certain color or font they absolutely hate that would change the whole project?

Get details like this beforehand, so there are no drastic changes that need to be made once the project is in its final stages.

At this point, you should know the general look and feel the client is going for.

4. Consult

What’s the budget, schedule, and deadlines?

Now you’ll want to get into what ultimately matters. You’re getting paid to do this project, so you need to make sure you and the client are on the same page with the budget.

The last thing you’ll want to happen is put in all of this work to create an awesome project to find out that the client can’t afford everything you did.

This is why it should be hashed out ahead of time.

Be sure to discuss how much the client is willing to pay and align that with the work you’re able to create. Also, determine what exactly you’re getting paid for.

Are you expected to print out the marketing materials? Are you expected to write the marketing copy? Figure this out ahead of time, so there’s no confusion with compensation.

After the budget is agreed upon, obtain at least a date where they would like the creative design project to be completed by.

Sometimes companies won’t have official dates and other times they will have a calendar laying out when each task needs to be done.

Try to get to this level and have specifics of due dates for the concept, production, and final delivery.

If the client isn’t very familiar with the creative process, this will also give them an idea of how long things will actually take.

5. Define

Where will the materials be coming from and what are the specifications?

The fifth and final step of writing the creative brief is getting the specifications that will tie the creative design project together.

You should know what type of marketing materials you’re creating. Are these brochures, business cards, website mockups, etc?

And once you find this out, you should gather all of the specs associated with the sizing of each material.

Creative design doesn’t just take the design, it usually requires images and content. Be sure you know where these materials will be coming from and when you are expected to have them.

It will be extremely beneficial to have this information ahead of time. It won’t delay the process of going back and forth discussing with the client these last minute details.

In this last step, you should also have contact information for each person that is part of the process, any mandatory elements of the piece and specific wording.

Now that you all have the information laid out in these five steps, you must create the final product by writing the creative brief.

Include all of the notes you took and make sure to refer to it multiple times throughout the creative process. Email it to your clients to review to double check that everything is agreed upon.

Getting the creative brief out of the way is the hardest part. Once you have a killer brief, you’ll be on your way to doing what you do best — producing beautiful creative design.

Are you looking for a design project to work on? You can use Boonle to apply for design jobs, build your portfolio and get paid to do them.

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