By Denee Lewis

 BeachBinoculars_small2A few weeks ago I was spending time with my very inquisitive nephew. Throughout the weekend the questions were so abundant that at times I felt like I was participating in a political debate, afraid at being stumped in the lightning round. The questions ranged from the mundane to the profound and I have to admit I wasn’t sure my answers on a few of them truly satisfied his curiosity.

I also realized this is what designers sometimes experience when they are starting a new project. Extracting client knowledge with what seems like a multitude of questions. The information gathered is critical not only in meeting the goals and expectations of the client, but also in building a marketable brand. With so many questions swirling around in our heads, how do we effectively ascertain the information we need without coming off like the Riddler, sending our clients running for the hills? The answer is a good design brief.

A design brief is a summary of the collective questions that when answered by the client should provide the designer with a solid scope of the project. So if I am handing my client a design brief, what questions should they expect? Here is a guideline:

The What, Why and Goals:

  • What does your business do?
  • Goal of this project: what are you trying to communicate and achieve?
  • How does your business differ from your competitors?
  • Do you want to completely redesign or just update materials?

Target Audience:

  • Who are you trying to reach? Who is your ideal customer/client?
  • What are your target market demographics? Consider such areas as: age, geography, gender, income, views and lifestyle.

This is important, as the design dictated by the target audience for a new teen accessory will be drastically different than that of an oil company.

Project Scope and Specifications:

  • What materials will the project entail? List the elements of the project or will they be handled as separate projects? Will it include a marketing strategy, logo, print collateral, ads, website, hosting, social media, analysis, signage, video, radio, photography, copywriting and/or promotional items?
  • Do you need a brochure site or ecommerce site? What functionality, content and elements do you want?font-choices
  • For ads, printed pieces – what is the size? Please provide an ad spec sheet from the publisher. Will you provide images? (See existing or available materials below)
  • For all materials – What is the focus? What information are you including and who will be providing the content?
  • Will you need vendor/printing management?

Budget and Schedule:

  • Understanding we will tailor our services to give the most benefit for your money, what is your budget?
  • What items are priority, considering both your budget and timeline?
  • Considering consultation, concept development, production and delivery, we will share our timelines. However, do you have specific deadlines in mind based on events or product launches?

Styles and Benchmarks:

  • What style would like to see in your design? For example, do you want clean and modern or whimsical and textured?
  • Can you provide examples such other websites or printed materials that you really like? Such examples shed light on the aesthetic styles and elements you lean toward and what will be important to your design project.

Existing or Available Materials:

  • Do you have an existing logo, brochures, website, photos or other items that you could share with us? From these, we can see where your existing design lies and where you want to go with the new design or modifications. Also, these materials can provide content if the copy is not changing in the new design.
  • If new copy/content is needed, do you need copywriting services?
  • Are you providing photos? If so, please provide the maximum size available. For printed materials, the photos should be CMYK color and 300 dpi, while photos for web materials should be RGB and 72 dpi. Note: photos pulled from websites are typically 72 dpi and are not suitable for print materials.
  • When providing logos or graphics the format should be a vector EPS file. If certain colors are to be followed, please provide the existing brand guidelines with the color breakdowns in Pantone, CMYK and RGB color spaces.

Do Nots:

  • What are the features and styles you DO NOT want to include on your project? This can include a variety of things such as certain colors, fonts, textures, styles and layouts. Really sharing with us any elements that put a grimace on your face will help weed out options you may be inclined to reject and may reduce revision time.

Okay, I know, I still sound a bit like the Riddler, but it pays to be thorough on both the client’s and agency’s part. I guarantee there will be further discussions throughout the design process, but tackling these questions in the beginning will set the foundation for a successful project and that is a goal that will even satisfy Batman, if not my nephew.


deneelewisDenee Lewis, Creative Director

As our resident creative genius, Denee has a wonderful eye for not only is esthetically pleasing, but what works technically and make websites, ads, and branding campaigns work best for the client. Denee has over 10 years creative experience and will work directly with the Account Manager and the Client to ensure the very best design.


Written by marcus
Marcus Smith is Digital Marketing Jedi and SEO specialist with Newton Design and Marketing. Marcus helps companies from a wide range of industries to improve their online presence, search engine optimization and branding.