A design brief is a comprehensive written explanation, given to a designer, outlining the aims and objectives of a design project. It is the foundations upon which all successful projects are built.

A thorough and articulate design brief is a critical part of the design process. It serves as an essential point of reference for the designer and ensures that all important design issues are considered and questioned before the designer starts work.

In a perfect world all design briefs would be clear, concise and contain all the information required to complete the job as quickly and effectively as possible. However, this is not a perfect world and on occasion things go wrong. Whether it’s a client changing their mind, an account manager not supplying the correct information or the designer not following the brief, mistakes do occur, so minimizing these is of vital importance for continued success in the future.

Getting straight to the core of any brief is essential as time is money, so nailing a brief first time benefits both agency and client. The communication of information is the key to its success and all parties must play their part.

Clients must be concise and outline from the start what they want and what they would like the intended outcome to be. The more clues the client gives about their design tastes, the more likely the designer will be able to produce something close to their aims. Expecting the designer to second-guess what the client wants rarely produces the best results.

Account Managers must understand the client's intentions, offering advice and guidance. They gather together costings, specifications and mechanical data and accurately communicate all the necessary information to the designer.

Designers must consume and interpret all the supplied information and produce a creative and commercially-driven solution to the design brief in a timely fashion.

Identifying the main elements of the brief is often the most difficult part of the process. In order to identify the exact requirements it’s important to always consider the following:

  1. Understanding your client - It’s important to understand the client's company profile, and to immerse yourself in it. Each client is different and requires a different approach. What may work for one client may not for another.
  2. Keeping the end in sight - It’s always important to keep the final goal in sight, ensuring that intended targets are always reached. The creative process can often cause the designer to become side-tracked, so a good understanding of the end result keeps the brief heading in the right direction.
  3. Knowing your Audience - Understanding the age range, gender, interests etc. of the intended market allows for the creation of artwork designed specifically for the target audience.
  4. Following guidelines - Extensive knowledge of corporate guidelines ensures compliance with existing brand identity.
  5. It’s all in the detail - Before any work begins it’s imperative to have all the necessary specifications for the design job. Without sizes, colour, stock etc it’s almost impossible to start designing.
  6. Hitting the deadline - Although this may be obvious, it is important to manage the design time correctly. Setting realistic and attainable deadlines that can be met. It is always important to be honest with the client if any unforeseeable delays occur.

If all criteria are met it’s a surefire way to make that dream design brief a reality on every project!

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