Planning for great projects: the design brief

One of the most useful tools in planning a major graphic design project is the design brief. A design brief is a written explanation given by you to the design firm at the start of a project. A design brief is the first step in partnering with your design firm to do great work.

Why write a design brief?

  • It gives clarity, direction and provides a benchmark to evaluate concepts
  • It creates consensus internally about project goals, scope and budget

What’s in a design brief?

  • Who are you? Even if your design firm is already familiar with you, it helps to articulate your mission, brand attributes, brand style guidlelines, and points of difference.
  • What are your objectives? For example, an annual report may have a positioning objective (for example, for a healthcare foundation: the most efficient and effective research funding) and a fundraising objective (for example, support presentations to major donors).
  • Who is your target market? Detail your primary and secondary markets. Are they new or existing targets?
  • What is your budget and time frame? Even if this is approximate, it will point the way to an appropriate and realistic solution.
  • Are there examples of projects by you or competitors that are effective and/or relevant?

These questions are a starting point — the more information the design firm has, the easier it is for them to come up with great concepts.

If you are too busy to write a design brief — no problem! If you work with us, we’ll create it for you as part of our research process.



The characters Bert and Ernie on Sesame Street were named after Bert the cop and Ernie the taxi driver in Frank Capra’s “Its A Wonderful Life”.