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How to write a Design Brief

Home > How to Guides > How to Write a Design Brief
If you are going to organize a design competition, you need to write a good design brief, here is how:

What is a design Brief?
A design brief is, in its broadest sense, set of information given to the designer so that the resulting designs will meet the requirements or wishes of the client. If the designer has a clear view of what she need to do, she usually creates an artifact that accommodates the requirements of the brand. A brief is a formulated document, and shoud answer several questions. It should be formulated by or with a designer, and should include opportunities assessed, constraints identified and strenghths and weaknesses of the company highlighted. For a good brief, first of all you need to create a short but complete view of your brand in the designers mind, this is possible by defining key points. The key points can be highlighted by porting the notion of 5W+H from journalism, this way we can forge a working design brief. The brief might be anything from a single page to a multiple volume set of documents and "less is more".

The Key Question:
Before all other questions, the most important is: What do you want to achieve with the new designs? Give details on why you need the new designs, what is the core purpose of this process?

After you explained the core question, try to explain these questions:
1. What does your company do? Give details or provide a catalogue of your existing products or services.
2. Why do you need new designs? The reasons you want to work with the designers.
3. What is the core competency of your company, what makes you efficient?
4. When do you plan to launch the newly designed products or services?
5. What are the deadlines of the design process?
6. What are the milestones if a design is considered to be the part of the company?
7. Where is your company?
8. Where are your products being sold?
9. What is your target customer base?
10. Where do your target customer base reside?
11. Do you need localized designs for different cultures or globally sold products?
12. Which production technologies do you have?
13. Do you do all in-house production or outsource some parts of the products or services?
14. What adjectives do you seek in the new designs? Do you need classical or crazy products, explain.
15. What are the advantages for designers to work with you?
16. Do you want one-time designs or a continious cooperation with designers?
17. Will you require extra services? Graphic design for a product, a communication design for service etc?
18. What is the legal name of your company?
19. Who is the person in charge in case extra information is required?
20. Add your own question here.

Plus you could metion in your brief:
1. Project backgrounds, prior work, site and policy contexts (for architectural competitions)
2. Performance or efficiency standards, legal requirements
3. Further available resources, templates, guidelines and other downloadables

4. State of art in the industry, current trends and insights on statusquo
5. Add anything worthy to mention here.

Things to Remember
When creating a brief for a "mass of designers" for example in design competitions, the brief cannot be longer than half a page, the answers should be extremely short, because if the answers and your brief are long, designers will not read them, and the brief will be useless, if you have to do it long, make a summary first; the designers time is precious. A brief shoud not be more than 500 words, and ideally should be around 350-400 words. This is extremely important. The main idea of a brief is that the designer should have a very clear understanding of your company and the goal of the competitions. The designer should not be given to many restrictions or constraints otherwise she cannot design efficiently and creatively.

Feedbacks and Interactive Briefs
Some type of design competitions allows you to respond to submissions by the designers by providing feedbacks. This could happen in two conditions; firstly, you might have a ladder style competition where at first phase you collect entries, eliminate few, and ask designers to submit improvement entries in the second step by providing constructive feedbacks. In the second scenario, you could be constantly providing feedbacks as submissions are made. In sense, providing feedbacks during the process is interactive briefing, as based on each submission, you guideline the designers to submit projects that match your goals, capabilities, vission and mission - which is the ultimate goal of a design brief. In this case, the level of interaction you provide can be a key element to push designers to submit better projects. It is commonly seen that constant briefing during the process could easily increase the number of submissions per designer significantly
.

How to Improve your Brief Further
Not everyone is good at writing briefs, therefore companies that want to get most out of design competitions are advised to hire a professional to write a brief that is challenging and inspiring meanwhile keeping it clear. Some companies do provide this service professionally. The initial time investment to write the brief is totally worth it, as it leads to have better submissions that match the aims of organizing the competition at the first place.

The Following Should not be the part of the Brief
Contact details, selection criteria, judging panel, competition process and submission requirements and any other information that are not related to explaining your vision are not part of the brief, but they are part of the competition guidelines which also includes the brief.

 
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