Why write a design brief?

Today we welcome guest blogger Nat Carroll to the CWC stage, for her first post in a two-part series about design briefs. Welcome, Nat! CWC_WhyWriteADesignBrief

To achieve design that matters, it’s imperative your designer must understand all aspects and the tiny nuances of a project. You may end up, otherwise, with something that looks pretty, but ultimately does not resonate with your target audience. The questions you need to ask yourself of the design, are: Will it increase your brand awareness, increase your sales, or better your other strategic goals? Will it solve the heart of your problem? Design can be strategically valuable, if the project has clear goals and objectives from the outset.

Enter the design brief.

In my opinion, this often over–looked, rushed and/or under–valued part of the design process is vital to the outcome of your project’s success, and most likely, your bottom–line.

A good project briefing thoroughly explores and defines the project, objectives, success criteria, target audience, competition and the scope of work involved.

For the client, a good brief works as:

  • A defining of the problem, to which an informed design becomes the solution to;
  • A process of clarification and refinement, before moving too hastily ahead with concepts;
  • A challenge to existing perceptions, that may have resulted in the design problem initially; and
  • An alignment of all the key decision–makers, helping to avoid dead–ends or disagreements later on

And for the designer, a good brief works as:

  • The best guide to quoting a project accurately by understanding the total scope involved;
  • A directive tool, that the designer can constantly refer back to, to ensure they’re on–track; and
  • A reference tool, to design from an informed viewpoint, creating more meaningful design

This part of the process manages the risk involved in investing in the hire of a creative, by creating common goals, with defined issues/restraints, and a structure for solving the problem. It aligns all involved with a reference point, giving the designer the ability to clarify and understand the needs of the client and their problem. Writing a design brief encourages clear communication and collaboration between the two parties.

Collaborating with your designer in a transparent approach, by sharing your most likely, intimate knowledge of your brand – be that a product, service, your own art – will harvest the most innovative project outcomes. Think of your designer almost as if he/she were a business partner – sharing your deepest values and business goals, will allow for insight and new perspectives that may just spark the most creative of solutions, and help tick the goals on your list.

This all begins, with a clear, well–written and informative design brief!

Design briefs can take many forms. In my own design practice, I guide clients toward an informative brief via a questionnaire (you can see an example here). In part two of this series, we'll explore How to Write a Design Brief. Stay tuned!

Nat Carroll is NSW-based creative director, designer & illustrator with an artisan style and strategic approach, working under the moniker, the Seamstress. She carefully crafts visual communication — brands, design & illustration — for the creative, cultural, business & non profit fields.