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10 Essential Questions Your Design Brief Should Answer for Effective Collaboration

Collaborating with a graphic designer shouldn't be taxing. Ensure seamless project execution by answering these questions in your brief before contacting a designer.

1. What do you want to do and what’s your budget?

  1. Decide on Your Budget::
    For customized projects, it's important to set a budget upfront to guide the designer and ensure project success.

  2. Write Precise Brief Headings:
    Your brief headings should be the name of the project or task that you want to do. For example, “Business Card” Another example would be “Product label for Hair Care”, that’s precise, it tells exactly what your project is about.

    Avoid using a collective name for just one thing; an example would be using “Stationery” when you wanted a “letterhead” design. If you must use such in the case where you have up to 5 stationery items to be designed, after writing stationery as a heading, list out each of the stationery items you want to do, so the designer can send an appropriate quotation.

2. How do you want it done or how it should look, should you trust the designer?

  1. Give Necessary Specifications:
    Do you have specifications for your project? Such as dimension, typeface, and the format of the final file e.g. PDF, PSD, and so on, let the designer know. Give your brand style guide to the designer if you have one for your brand.
  1. Describe The Look:
    You have gotten your brief title right, e.g. “Logo design for a beauty business”, That’s good but what do you want it to look like? A proper direction would save a lot of time and reduce back and forth.

    Before I got it right, I once worked with a client on Fiverr who couldn’t clearly describe what should be done for him, I displayed naivety and went ahead with the basic info he gave which was “My product is hair growth so I want a logo with hair length or Afro”, this sounds simple and I went ahead and generate lots of idea of a logo with hairstyles in which I had to manually hand-drawn some, providing options beyond two initial concepts I stated on my Gig (service) and hoping to impress the client but when he saw the first draft, he said “these do not fit my business, I want a full logo!? ”, lots of questions ran through my mind,

    if the designs did not fit his business it means I didn’t understand his business because he didn’t explain his business and I never asked, and also what in the design world is “full logo” he demanded meant?!
    I learned from my mistakes as a designer.

    Tons of ideas can come to the designer’s mind on a project, Don’t give half information so you can get what you want, also if you give directions like “I want a hot, maddest, worst, cutting-edge, badass, cool, or any like it is ambiguous and may not yield the desired result. Also, using the wrong term would make you and the designer go back and forth, if you’re not sure, send an image sample.

    When you want a designer to come up with the exact design direction you have in mind but have not clearly explained it, it could end in dissatisfaction even if the designer can generate tons of good ideas because he/she is versatile, versatility is not enough without a clear vision unless you do not have your plan and you want to trust the designer to make design suggestion of what’s best for your type of business, some project will require you share how you want your brand to be perceived and your target market, this will help the designer narrow down appropriately.

    A final logo could look simple but a lot of thought and research comes in from the designer's angle. If you do not know what style your logo should be, such as abstract shape, text type of logo, script type logo, mascot, emblem, etc., a little search on the internet could help. It’s a smart move to simply look for an image sample that visually explains the style you’re looking for. See our logo service.

3. Do you have a brand colour or what is the set of colours you have in mind?

Most people believe certain colours are generally used in certain industries, instead of directly using such hues as those in your industry, if you choose a shade of the colours, that can set your project apart, besides you do not have to follow the trend because colours have different meaning in a different country, depending on your audience; choose the right colour that conveys the essence of your brand if you do not have brand guidelines.

4. What do you want to achieve on the project in terms of execution?

We can call a design project successful if it achieves the objectives according to the acceptance criteria you set. You have to decide early if your design is for a collection so that the designer can plan the design accordingly, an example of a project that may have a collection is skincare, hair care line, deodorant, etc.  

5. Who is your audience and do you have a competitor?

  1. Describe your competitors:
    If you’re not the first person in your niche, you can intuitively check your competitor, and how they executed that which you want to hire a designer. And it is a smart move to share a link to such a resource with the designer.

  2. Describe your audience:
    Clearly defining your audience, such as what their profession is, age group, how they buy, their interest, etc., and how you want your design to speak to them is crucial in your brief. If your objective is to get your audience excited, shocked, and so on, let the designer know.

6. What are the correct dimensions of things to be designed?

If dimension applies to your type of project, giving out a measurement to your designer is good but what is better is giving correct or accurate measurements is critical to the overall design project to ensure things fit properly how they should, Correct measurement can also prevent loss of money that could occur if what you print produced is not usable due to incorrect size. If your project is a product box, and you have a box supplier, most of them already have their template with die-line and its measurements, Ensure you obtain the right template and pass it to the design to plan your design with it unless you’re going the customize route where the designer comes up with a customized template measurement that suits the design

7. Have you written out the contents or body copy?

Prepare the content of your artwork (design), this is where you get to educate your customers on what they should know about your offering. If your product is a hair care product, you’ll need to prepare the ingredients, direction/how to use, caution, and description necessary, That being said, it’s always good to keep the content precise and comprehensive enough for your buyer unless you’re designing publication materials such as newspaper, bulleting and some certain types of magazines, you should avoid too many details and texts, too much text can choke the space your designer need to explore creativity with.

8. Is the copy or the content you wrote the final?

Some designers charge per hour, some charge per time while some combine both depending on the type of project, The ones that charge per time might charge you for the extra hour they have to use to change your content across all your project while those who charge per project may charge you for edit after the project is closed or if the number of revision allocated has elapsed. Finalizing your copy before handing it over to a designer will save you cost.

9. Attending to the drafts and whose opinion matters?

  1. Given project feedback without wasting time:
    Take your time to go through the first draft, make notes of all the changes and corrections you want on all pages if it’s a multi-page project, and send all corrections at once. Except for typos and grammatical corrections, avoid spending too much time adjusting the design. Before you make a big change, first ask yourself if that change would communicate your message better, having minimal adjustment will save you a lot of time and money you would have spent on revisions or buying more designer’s time.

  2. Trust the designer:
    Let the professional do their job unless you design professionally yourself, that being said, you might need to keep your opinion because every design cannot be all things to all people. Seeking a second opinion about your project is good but too many opinions can lead to confusion, if you’re in charge, trust your instinct or let all the opinions stop at the person who makes the final decision. I’m writing from experience.

10. When is the deadline or due date?

  1. Send your brief early:
    Once you have all the necessary details you want to share with your designer, get it across to your designer to get an estimated completion time which you can add an additional few days to in case you need more revisions.

    If your project should take 7 days for competition and you’re getting across to the designer when you need it within 3 days, this might lead to a rush job or express charge from the designer, or even it can lead to you not properly checking out some critical things or not proofread the project, you cannot just overlook certain errors after printing which could cost you a lot to reproduce.

    Even though the designer hardly makes a typographic mistake, he or she still cannot be perfect all through, you’ll still have to do your homework and proofread.


Attention to detail is required while writing your brief to ensure your project is completed according to your specifications.
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About the Author:
SMichael Adeleye is a versatile creative designer and a creative director of who leads the creative team. He is also an occasional writer. He always looks for ways to help businesses solve their creative design needs.


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