When commissioning a design agency, regardless of whether it’s for communications (web or print) or a product, the first thing that should be considered is the creation of a design brief. The design brief is not only the instructions to the designer, but by making it clear what falls within and outside the brief. It also becomes the measure for success as the design work develops and the project reaches completion.


Good practice is to put your design brief in writing so all stakeholders involved in the project have something to refer back to. Remember, however, that the brief can be adapted as the project progresses, as long as there is collaboration with all the stakeholders and revisions written down.

Design brief summary:

Make sure you agree the brief at the beginning of the project

Write down the brief and provide copies to your designers and project stakeholders

Update the brief if required as the project progresses, ensuring there is agreement with all stakeholders and issue a revised brief

A good design brief will ensure you get the most from your design agency by providing them the information they need to follow the design process:

  • Understand the objectives
  • Understand the users
  • Plan the management
  • Prototype
  • Evaluate
  • Re-define the understanding and restate
  • Release
  • Maintain

Define the context of the project:

Why is there a need for this product/communication/review?
Will it be part of an existing communication/product range/campaign/corporate literature etc.?
What corporate guidelines should be followed?
What is the life expectancy of product/communication/review?
Does it break new ground or have some uniqueness?
What markets should be targeted/types of occupation/nature of business?

Identify target audiences and rank in order of importance:

  • Stakeholder
  • Customer
  • Staff

Define and prioritise the function of items being briefed:

  • Direct selling
  • Newsletter/Information
  • Point of sale
  • Technical guide
  • Corporate communication

Define the number and type of document:

  • Brochure
  • Folder
  • Flyer
  • Leaflet
  • Point of sale etc

Allow for factors affecting delivery of items being briefed

  • Copywriting
  • Technical input
  • Unit cost

Facility for future expansion or product improvement

  • Budget
  • Quantities
  • Manufacturing process

Other factors

  • Size and weight (posting and distribution)
  • External consultancies’ requirements
  • Organisational implications
  • Ease of transportation
  • Compliance with any legal regulations and standards

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