What makes a good design brief?

Monika Olanrewaju, from the Sookio design team, explains why a good brief is so important and outlines the questions we ask at the start of each design project. 

Good design has never mattered more, and should be part of every company’s marketing strategy. From startups to established corporations, when it comes to reaching out to your target audience, spending time at the start of the project to define the project is an important step to making the designs as effective as possible.

What are your goals?

A good design brief will focus on the desired results, not just the look and feel. So before we even think about what it's going to look like, we want to make sure the goals of the design project are clear.

For example, you might be a healthcare company who books a stand at conferences around the world so you can demo your product. You're going to need eye-catching banners to draw people to your booth and attractive printed materials for people to take away. It all needs to be portable too, so it makes life easy for your sales team.

Or maybe you're repositioning your brand and need a new logo, signage, brochures, packaging and social media images which say something new about your product and differentiate you from your competitors. 

This is where the brief comes in. It helps us understand your business and your goals. It's also a good time to flag up areas where you're not sure what's needed, so we can explore a few options and present suggestions you may not have thought of yourselves.

This can often reduce your costs in the long run, for example you may not have thought about brand guidelines, but creating them at the start can cut down on time needed building your website. Or, while we're developing the marketing materials, why not get the company business cards printed at the same time?

What questions will we ask?

Whatever the project, there common questions we need to ask so we can make sure everyone is clear about the brief. Do take a look at these before the kick-off meeting so you're fully prepared.

Background: Tell us about your company’s character, values and vision. Who are your competitors and what makes you different (and better)?

Goals: What do you want the design to achieve? It's useful to try to have clear, realistic and achievable goals. So before we design and print 20,000 flyers we can define whether you want this to result in sign-ups at the website or sales with people using a particular discount code. 

Target audience: Who are you trying to reach? Think about your ideal customers, the people who will use or see the design.

Context: In what circumstances will people be seeing the design? On the web, banners at at a conference, when you give them your business card, when they visit you on Facebook, or when they visit your reception and pick up a brochure?

Format: How will you be using the design? Graphics for presentations, packaging design for your product, and infographics for social media channels will all have different considerations when it comes to dimensions and file format.

Budget: How much have you planned to spend? If in doubt ask us for some guidance on this. We can advise on how many revisions will be needed and any potential additional costs, like image sourcing or photography.

Specifications: There will be lots of small-but-important details we need to consider. Like guidelines on using the company logo. Storage space for printed flyers. Software requirements like PowerPoint v Keynote. Will your packaging actually fit through the letterbox? 

Timescales: It is important to be realistic here. Not only do we need to prepare the designs and allow time for feedback and sign-off, but there may be long lead-in times with getting the items printed and delivered. Nobody wants a rushed job!

Tone: Do you want the design to tell customers that your product is futuristic and sleek, or vintage and earthy? Classic or contemporary? Should your company be seen as friendly and approachable, or smart and elegant? Is your campaign fun, playful and welcoming, or are you covering a more sensitive issue?

Key contacts: Are there other people responsible for this project or are involved in this project in any way? Have you already contracted a photographer or web design studio? Does your company already have other contractors that designer should communicate with?

Let's get started!

Spending time at the start of a project to clarify the design brief is key to making it a success. We'd love to talk to you more about your project and how we can use attention-grabbing design for print and online to help you achieve your marketing objectives. Get in touch now to tell us more!