Creative Cadence
Design for lone marketers

Views from the studio

Views from the studio

Briefing a designer on your project

Once you’ve chosen a designer to work with, the best way in which you can get the most out of them for your project is by writing a decent project brief.

The project briefing should cover every detail that the designer needs to know about you, the project and your business. Be as thorough as you can in this process and the document can serve as a pivotal reference for you both throughout the project, ensuring things stay on track.

The better the briefing is, the better creative work will come out of it.


Client name

A pretty obvious start, but you’d be amazed how many names are forgotten, the second a person walks out of the meeting room!


Project name

This doesn’t have to be anything complicated like an MI5 code-name for an operation … Project Phoenix or the like. Just simply state what the project is called.



This should introduce who you are, what your business is and what it provides as a product or service. You need to give your designer a really good feel for your business, so include as much information as you can including website link(s) and previous examples of marketing communication you may have done. These could be brochures, case studies, direct mail examples or even just archive copies of your email newsletter.


Background to the project

Now in the briefing, give some detail about the specific project itself:

  • Why have you decided to commission this project?
  • What is the project itself?
  • Does this project need to fit with any other initiatives in the business?
  • What is the project designed to do?
  • What are the objectives in terms of what you expect the project to deliver regarding business impact?
  • What do you want it to achieve for your business?


Background to your market

Here you should describe to your designer the market your business is in. It’s useful to know the conditions of this market currently (this may be the reason you’ve decided to commission marketing materials in the first place).

  • Who is your target audience for this piece of work?
  • Have you performed any market research it might be useful sharing?
  • Have you any competitors in this market and what kind of communications are they doing currently?


Project history

It’s important to mention whether is a new project you’re briefing, or whether it’s part of an already-existing larger project within your business. If it’s to make up part of an existing project, then obviously share work that’s been done on the project as a whole so far.


Specific deliverables

Now you’ve been through the project, you need to describe exactly what you require. Is it a two-sided postcard? Is it an exhibition stand? Is it a list of a few different deliverables under the same campaign banner?

The deliverable at this stage might just be conceptual ideas for a marketing campaign – in which case, specifics in terms of final output may come at a later stage. It will help as a guide though, to detail in the briefing what future deliverables might be.


Detail your budget for the project

The sticking point of many a project brief. In my own experience, I always try to ask what the budget is (if it’s not mentioned). Often, new clients say something like, “oh … there isn’t really a budget”. I then spend quality time putting a project quote together, only to be told that the quote is “over the budget”. (I thought there wasn’t one?!)

Anyway … let’s just say it’s very useful to know the budget if there is one. It shouldn’t mean that the designer just provides a project quote TO that budget, but it will help save time negotiating later. If the budget is tight, a designer may instinctively know what can or can’t be done, again, saving time in the long-run.



Timings … when do you need the project delivered? Is there a certain date that needs to be met (for a brand launch or conference for example). You may already have a project plan with key milestones and stages that need to be met for sign-off. Share this if you have – it’s really useful, despite designers general fear of spreadsheets!


Guidelines to work within

This may be covered in the background to the project or in project history. If you’re a company with an existing brand, share any constraints that have to be worked within – even better if there’s existing brand guidelines. It sounds silly, but if you’re briefing a brand identity project for your start-up and you REALLY hate the colour purple, for example, then say so. This could save wasted time at a later stage. It’s a shame, but often a start-ups constraints are the owners likes and dislikes, so share them.


Who is in the general project and approval process?

Especially important if your business hasn’t an existing business relationship with your chosen designer. Let them know who the main contacts are for the project. Is it you, or should decisions also go through one of your colleagues or someone higher up?


Next steps

End the meeting by agreeing next steps.

  • Are you expecting a project quote from the designer?
  • Are you expecting another face-to-face meeting to discuss the quote and project before going ahead?
  • Are you just expecting a phone call in three days time?

Agree what is to happen next, and by when.