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Create a design brief that is effective for your team: the ultimate guide

Ever wondered about the outcome of a lousy design brief?

This right here! This is what happens when your design brief falls flat.

James Fridman on Twitter (@fjamie013) Photoshop requests for fun
James Fridman (@fjamie013) photoshops pictures for fun.

You might’ve come across James Fridman (@fjamie013) on X (previously Twitter)—this guy who takes on Photoshop requests just for kicks.

His edits aren’t just good; they’re also super funny.

It’s a blast, and I personally end up lost in this rabbit hole, just scrolling through his work for hours.

The thing is, the creative brief James gets from his audience comes in short one-liners, leaving him lots of room for interpretation. 

This is the perfect example of how a single-sentence instruction really can’t give any designer the full picture of what you, as the client, are looking for.

This is why having a well-crafted design brief is a must-have for any design request.

In this piece, you’ll:

  • Understand why writing an effective design brief is important.
  • Catch some tips on how to write a design brief for your design projects.
  • You even get a FREE design brief template!

What is a creative brief?

Designer meeting blueprint chart
A design brief is like a blueprint

Think of a creative or design brief as a document that makes sure everyone is aligned during the design process.

It lays out your project goals, project deliverables, and your expected timeline for when everything should be finished.

Basically, it gives your team a project overview so you can collectively see if there are areas of your project that might fall short.

With the brief, the team is aware of the scope of the project and if they have all the assets they need, so they can realistically deliver the design work you need in time.

Why do you need to create a design brief?

Design Brief puzzle pieces
A Design Brief ensures business owners and designers are on the same page

Just like you, the big brands that invest a lot of money and resources in their creative campaigns also use design briefs to share their ideas with the design agency that creates their designs.

This helps everyone stay aligned with their goals and objectives, so less time and resources are wasted trying to come up with the perfect design.

Creating an effective design brief has perks for everyone involved, both for you as the client and your design team.

With a project brief in hand, there’s no more guessing when it comes to making design decisions.

The designer can see a clear path to whip up the designs you want, all top-notch and speedy, without tons of back and forth.

But Deer Designer offers unlimited revisions, so why sweat making a design brief when I can just keep asking for changes?

Fair point.

We’re here to tweak your designs as many times as you need.

But think about it: do you really want to dive into a never-ending revision saga? 😨

We’re cool with it, sure, but it’s your time and hard-earned money we’re talking about.

A good design brief saves you time down the line.

Plus, you won’t need to keep tossing the designs back and forth like a hot potato.

Without a clear design brief, a designer might go around in circles trying to figure out what you need for your design and sending you design concepts that just don’t hit the mark.

You might reach the end of the project deadline and still have no designs that suit your needs.

If you’re subscribed to Deer Designer, you’re in luck.

We give you unlimited revisions and designs.

But what if you’re working with a freelancer who bills you by the hour and only communicates with you when they feel like it?

Yikes!

That’s how you end up with poorly made projects that go beyond your budget constraints and deadlines.

What does an effective design brief look like?

Your design brief outlines one thing: What do you need for your design?

You might think this is obvious, but your design team can’t read your mind.

Here are some questions to sort out your thoughts in a way that your project manager and design team can understand:

  • What’s the purpose of the project?
  • What’s the goal of the ad or campaign?
  • Who’s the target audience for this new design?
  • What colors, fonts, and styles should be used for it?
  • Do you have examples and templates your designers can take inspiration from?

Yes, it might seem like a lot of questions now, but if you put some brainpower into that initial brief, you can use it again for your other design needs.

You’ll just have to tweak it a bit here and there to match your new design’s needs.

Get your FREE design brief template!

Once you’ve got those answers jotted down, and your head’s spinning with a clear vision, go ahead and grab our design brief template.

We put a lot of thought into this so you can use it right away without having to go through countless revisions.

DOWNLOAD NOW!

What should you include in a design brief?

Designer struggling to think of ideas cloud crumpled paper laptop
A clear design brief clears clouds of doubt and creative blocks.

At the end of the day, this design brief is a document.

It is just a tool for you to use.

Without a grasp on your design problem and what you need your graphic design team to do, it will still make no sense.

One template can’t ensure you will have a successful design project if you have no vision for your new project.

If you want to whip up a well-written design brief, you’ll need the following:

Your vision for the design project

Don’t worry, you don’t have to come up with some unique genius idea all by yourself.

Your designers can still create designs that stand out from the crowd through the design inspirations you provide.

This simply helps design teams get a visual of what kind of designs they are aiming for.

Your designers need background on your project

Can you imagine taking over any business without any insights into its vision, history, and rules?

This is essentially how your designers feel when they are starting a new project without your brand guidelines, any idea about your existing workflows, or any mistakes from the previous design team they should avoid.

They just might create designs you don’t want or repeat mistakes your team has already made before.

What a waste of time!

Make sure your design brief covers what your brand identity is, what your preferences are, and what design choices your team should avoid.

Create an effective campaign with audience insights

Every brand and marketing campaign has a specific target audience.

You can’t just create designs blindly without knowing what kind of people you want to see and enjoy them.

Otherwise, you’ll just end up with something generic.

To click with your audience, you’ve got to know them. 

That includes knowing what they like, what they don’t, what designs attract them, their interests—all that jazz.

For example, if you’re targeting a working-class market, they might be into great deals that are convenient and accessible as they spend more time at work and may have limited budgets.

You can make this more specific by conducting polls and surveys when people make a purchase or consume your content online.

This way, you can know what their interests are and what trends they find relevant.

Write a design brief with our design brief template

Now that you’re all set with what you need for a successful design project, head over to the Design Brief Template.

We’re going to tackle each section one by one:

Field Content
Brand With Deer Designer, you’re able to request designs for your own brand or for your clients.

Each brand has a different brand identity, so you want to let your designer know which brand they are making this design for.

Project name

A clear and concise title is helpful, so you and your team can easily track and search for your design tickets for future reference.

If you need something revised, or if you want to make a similar design, a specific project name makes it easier to search for it. 

Good examples:

– Christmas banners for ACME Limited

– Stark Industries

– Homepage design for 21/08

– Banners (Facebook/Instagram) for Coca-Cola

Bad examples:

– New request (not clear or specific enough)

– New order for Monday (not clear and the deadline is vague)

Background story

Let your team know the “why” of your design. 

A 4-5 sentence paragraph is enough to tell everyone “why” this design should be done.

Objective

Tell your team what the purpose or goal of this design is.

If it is a part of a campaign, you can include this so your project manager can align this design with any existing designs in your campaign.

Audience

Tell your design team who your target audience will be. 

If you don’t have a specific demographic, you can indicate if the design is for your brand’s existing followers or if you are trying to widen your reach to people who don’t know your brand yet.

Deliverables

List down the design items you need in order of importance.

For example, if you need illustrations, indicate how many you need and what each illustration should be.

Project tone

Give your team an idea of what the tone or mood for the design should be.

Should it be happy? Serious? Professional yet approachable?

This can affect the look of your design.

Look and feel

Provide any colors, fonts, pegs, or inspirations you have so your designers have a visual of what your ideal final design should look like.

Desired reaction

Similar to the project tone, this gives your designers an idea about the mood of your design.

However, this part is specific to how you want your audience or customer to feel when they see your design.

Do you want them to feel like a discount offer is limited and they should make a purchase now? Do you want them to feel supportive of your company’s cause? 

Mandatory elements

What logos, taglines, icons, product photos, etc. should be included in your design?

Copy

We don’t do copywriting at Deer Designer and most designers don’t either.

Indicate what text you want to include in each design request and which key words you want to be highlighted.  

Making it easy for you: design brief examples

Check out this pre-filled design brief to see how it works:

Here is a sample of one of the carousels our designers are able to create from this design brief:

Key takeaways

Alrighty, now that you’re practically an expert on how a design brief should roll, let’s wrap it up by laying out what a design brief definitely isn’t:

👉 A design brief isn’t… Short and sweet.

A brief includes a lot of information in order to create a powerful design. 

It might seem like there’s too much information, but each part of the brief counts.

👉 A design brief isn’t… Simple as pie.

Your designers use a design brief to guide them through the entire design process.

You need to put a lot of consideration into what you need for your design, what your designers need to understand your design concept, and what your target audience will find interesting in a design.

👉 A design brief isn’t… Carved in stone. 

The cool thing about a design brief is that it gives you and your designers some space for creativity.

You, as the client, lay down your design needs for the project; your project manager sorts these goals and needs into understandable design tasks; and the designer interprets this information into their creative idea.

The important thing is that everyone is aligned throughout the design process.

It’s time for you to save time and money when requesting designs.

Get it done efficiently by writing your design brief!

Best of luck!