UX/UI Design

Design Brief Example: How It Should Look Like and What It Should Contain

What can be better than a total understanding between the executive team and a client? Nothing. When both parties have a common vision of the results and understand the techniques and tools that can be used, the results exceed expectations. Fortunately, all project requirements can be collected in one document. And this document is called a design brief.

A good design can boost the indicators of your business. Thus, using all available methods to create an effective design is vital for any product or services company.

Probably, you have already heard about briefs in design creation or product development. A creative brief is also a common practice for advertising agencies. Why is it so popular? The matter is the brief helps to sort things out and create a clear vision of the processes for everyone who will be involved in this project.

Asana, one of the most popular apps for project management, insists that ‘creative work deserves a clear plan and measurable goals before work begins.’ Yet still, many companies ignore creating briefs before they start the work. And as a result, they fail.

In this article, we are going to analyze the importance of design briefs. Every design brief example will help you better understand the structure and the principles of the brief that will lead your project to success.

What is a design brief?

A design brief is a document where all the main details about the project are collected. Despite its size, it contains all the main information that every team member may need. In fact, it ensures smooth and productive cooperation of different teams, as it helps to stay on the same page. Also, it helps to deliver the idea to the stakeholders, clarify key ideas, and agree on project requirements.

A Design brief is also helpful when it comes to business goals. First of all, it helps define them more clearly; secondly, it helps the client pull all details together and present this information to the executive team. As a result, both of them have the same vision of the project. Therefore, the client's expectations will be reached, and the executive team will easily create the project plan for development.

In any project brief example, you will find certain points that are to be covered. Stylization, global vision of the project, references, and so on are only the basics of the brief. Below, we will describe in detail the information that every company must include in the brief. 

A Design brief has multiple benefits for both parties. Yet, according to the Invision report, design briefs are used by 21% of mid-level companies. The meaning of these numbers is simple: mostly, businesses prefer to act without planning. Because of this, the number of failed companies is bigger than the number of companies that reached success.

Design brief simplifies the onboarding process

With the design brief, it’s easier to pass the onboarding for the project for the specialists who start to work on the project. They get all requirements in one document and don’t need to ask their colleagues for help to understand the concept of the project.

Design brief establishes rules 

Client brief template is a full dos and don'ts guideline that you will use to clarify all controversial moments of the design. Besides, it will help to keep creativity under control and make better decisions and choices.

Design brief ensures collaboration 

When you have a project brief, you invest in collaboration between two parties: the client and the execution team. Therefore, even when some questions appear, the answers can be found in the brief. For a client, a brief becomes a foundation for further cooperation: if the design team can develop a brief and stick to it, they can solve any problem that may appear.

Who should write a design brief?

Every company has its own brief with the structure that they prefer for their work. As a rule, the brief is always sent to the client. However, it doesn’t mean that a client must fill it. In many cases, design studios and companies help their clients at this stage. If the client is inexperienced and has never worked with the design briefs, a sales manager or any other team member will help with filling in the brief. Yet, some clients prefer to fill in the brief on their own.

After filling in the brief, a sales manager analyses the answers and sends it back to the client. It is possible to fix all the mistakes, clarify details, and add additional information at this stage.

In some cases, the company that looks for the execution team has its own brief. They send it to different studios to find the one that will be ready to take on this project. As a rule, this approach is used by big companies and enterprises that regularly conduct many design activities.

What information should be included in the design brief?

How to write a design brief that will help to create the best project? Any project brief is the result of the discovery stage, the first cooperation between the client and the team. During this stage, it is important to answer some questions that will help to clarify information on the following points.

Information about the company

The first thing that should be mentioned in brief is information about the company. The more the execution team knows about your company, the easier it is to represent your brand through the design.

  • Company name

Indicate the name of your company and the brand names you use in the communications.

  • Contact person

Provide this information in case the execution team needs to clarify details or ask some questions. Add name, position, and contact information.

  • Timezone

If you are working with the outsourcing team, a good idea will be to add information about your time zone. In this way, it will be easier for you to communicate.

  • Current startup/company stage

This information is important to understand the size of your company and the current state of the startup (idea, seed, experience, growth stage).

  • Company value (mission, vision)

The design always serves as a tool for transmitting the values and mission of your company.

Information about product

The next important details that must be added to a brief are the details about the product you will advertise or promote with the help of design.

  • Product name

Indicate the product the designers are going to work with. 

  • Short product description

For an execution team, it is vital to know what the product is about. Be clear with the details as possible.

  • Industry

Indicate the industry where your product belongs. Healthcare, finance, sports — each industry has some best practices that are used in the design.

  • Business geography

If you plan to scale your business to new locations, it will be nice to know the exact regions. Designs for Asia and the US will differ.

  • Business model

If you do not have a ready-made business model canvas, you need to create it. In this way, it will be easier to work on the design issues.

  • Value proposition

What is the best about your product? How does it differ from the products that already exist on the market? The execution team will use this information to help you stand out among your competitors.

  • Target audience 

Describe your target audience in detail: their region, age, preferences, the expectation of the products, and the needs you are going to cover with your product.

  • Competitors

Name your direct and indirect competitors. The execution team will conduct an analysis of your competitors to create the most effective design solutions for you.

Information about style

Any design should stick to a certain style. At this point, provide as much information as possible. You can also add your brand book.

  • Corporate brand identity

It will be nice to know your brand colors, logos, and fonts. In this way, the design team will create the design that looks like part of your project.

  • References

If you have any expectations or preferences, add the list of references. It will help to stay on the same page for all participants of the process.

  • Preferable product style

Do you want a corporate design or an entertaining one? Add this information to the brief and explain why this product style is preferable to you.

  • Color spectrum

In order to meet your expectations, a design team needs to know the colors that must be used in the design, as well as the colors that it is better to avoid.

  • Content

Add all content that you want to add to the design. For example, if you are working on a website brief, add content you are going to add to the website.

  • Media/graphics content

Also, if you have any media and graphics content that you need to have in your project, it will be better to include it in the brief.

  • Extras

At this point, you can add any additional information you have to help the execution team create the best design for you.

Powerful design brief examples and templates

When working on your first brief, the template may not be enough. It’s important to see and analyze at least one product brief example, as this will help you understand how exactly you should write and fill in the brief to get better results. Mostly all briefs look like these, so you can use them as an inspiration for your further work.

Nike

In their ad campaign brief, Nike focuses on the project's goal: demonstration that Nike takes care of all employees. The executive team gets a clear explanation of what should be done to get the desired effect. ​​

Pay attention that Nike also puts accents on the programs that are to be used. Colors, typefaces, durations are also indicated.

Additionally, Nike informs about the problem that the result of cooperation will solve and gives a big picture of the current state of the situation.

The description of the target audience is met in all examples and samples, and Nike uses this point as well.

Reebok

Unlike Nike, Reebok puts the main focus on the target audience of the campaign. Yet, it provides the executive team with all necessary information: the main objective, brand voice, insights that will be useful during the execution process, and the requirements to the result of work.

In every design brief definition, you will read that the brief must be clear and detailed, and Reebok sticks to these requirements. Even though the gaps of the brief are filling with one sentence, the provided information is enough.

PayPal

PayPal demonstrates its own approach in writing briefs. They focus on details and provide as much information as possible. By studying this brief, you will notice that PayPal frequently gives information about the company’s vision and mission. In this way, the executive team can feel the company's atmosphere and deliver the results that will satisfy everyone in the team.

Also, Paypal gives all necessary information on the problem, goal, target audience. Giving valuable insights helps the execution team catch the project's idea, so PayPal shares this information.

Company experience

We at Arounda believe that the discovery stage of any project is the most important one. The matter is that only here we can find all the information that we will be able to use in further work.

To understand our clients better, we conduct an interview to understand business needs and goals. We fill in the brief, and when it is ready, we check the information together with the client. If some information is missing, we add it to the brief. . We prefer to start cooperation with a workshop where we validate the ideas and discuss design concepts. We review available materials to create a roadmap for the project. And as the result of this project, we create a creative brief — a document with all information on the project.

Creative brief for Bold

Every project starts with creating a brief. Bold, a meditation app, needed a makeover of the design to meet new market demands. However, we defined this goal only after the discovery stage. Initially, the client approached us to improve their online presence with a mobile app and landing page. 

Main challenge

For Bold, our main challenge was the identification of the problems and finding ways to fix them. We worked on the mobile app, landing page, and go-to-market strategy. We’ve come to the conclusion that an app needs a new identity, iOS app, and strategy.

The decision

With the help of the project brief, we put all the requirements together: from the clients' expectations to the target audience. This information helped us to make faster decisions on the features to add and screens to fix.

The results

We've been working together with this client for more than 2 years. We've created a great product that satisfies customers and makes them feel happy. Currently, Bold has over 1000 users on the iOS platform. Therefore, we've met the initial goal of the client as well as the business goals.

Creating a project brief for your next project

When you have a design brief example, you can always be sure: creating your own one will be easier. However, you still may have some problems with defying your main objectives, target audience, and channels of communication.

Indeed, in order to be effective, a design brief must cover all questions in detail and all necessary information. The more information the brief contains, the better it is for the execution team and for the overall result.

If you feel that writing a brief becomes a challenge for you, don’t hesitate to ask for help. In Arounda, we help our client to fill in the creative brief by asking leading questions. Together, we’ll conduct a workshop to get all the necessary information: from the main message of this design to the colors you want to use.

If you feel that filling in the brief is too complicated for you, we’re here to do this for you. Leave us a message or give us a call, and we’ll discuss how to start working on your brief.

Lilya Khimchenko
WRITTEN BY
Lilya Khimchenko
CMO
I make sure our clients get the high-quality result from the beginning stage of the idea discovery & strategy to the final digital product.
Lilya Khimchenko
WRITTEN BY
Lilya Khimchenko
CMO
I make sure our clients get the high-quality result from the beginning stage of the idea discovery & strategy to the final digital product.
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