How to write a top-notch design brief

Typing up a design brief can seem daunting – especially if writing isn’t your forté. But there’s only one way to secure the exact communication or marketing product you’re after – and that’s with a well-written brief that gets straight to the point.

By simply answering the questions below, you have the beginnings of a mighty fine brief.

Cover the five W’s and H

What, who, when, where, why and how. Answering these questions upfront will save you so much time by eliminating the need for back-and-forth emails and phone calls to clarify details. Here’s a basic example:

What are you after? An infographic representing data on the number, and type, of leave days submitted by employees this financial year. A jpeg is ideal.

Who is it for? It will be provided to high-level personnel within our organisation via email and then featured in a public report (at a later date).

When do you need it by? We need the infographic drafted by 5pm next Friday [insert actual date]. We then have two days for feedback and approvals, with delivery of the final infographic required by 5pm on Tuesday [insert date].

What information or materials do we need to get started? We will provide you with an Excel spreadsheet with the appropriate data to extract, plus a copy of our Style Guide that contains our branding.

Why do you need this piece of communication? We need an engaging infographic that is easily scalable and can be added to different document formats such as Word and PowerPoint.

How can the producer/designer deliver it to you? Please provide a jpeg to me via email or Dropbox link.

Using the five W’s and H gives your designer everything they need to get started. Don’t forget to attach the background materials / data / brand guide that you promise them when answering these questions.

Confused man in a suit standing before a maze


Give your designer any past and present communication you’ve done. Tell them what worked and what didn’t. Does the new design product need to complement existing material?


What’s your budget for this project? You don’t necessarily need to include this in the brief but be prepared as the producer/designer will give you an estimated cost for the requested body of work. Knowing your budget makes it crystal clear as to what you’re willing, or have been approved, to spend. In some cases it can provide wiggle room to negotiate on price.

Be hands-on

If you have discovered a great example of what you’re after – save it! Attach the link or image to the brief and specify what it is exactly that you like about this particular example. Don’t be afraid to sketch your idea out on paper and send that through too.

Most importantly, it’s called a design brief for a reason – be concise and confident.

Adrienne from RD Consulting working on a laptop


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