How to Write A Creative Brief for Your Graphic Design Project

Putting together a strong creative brief for graphic design projects and any other project going through print production will help keep expectations and deadlines clear.

A creative brief is a blueprint for the work ahead, which lets everyone involved know the who, what, where, when and why of the graphic design project. The document will work best if the client and creative work together. If the client already has an RFP (request for proposal) drawn up for this project or a related endeavor, creative can draw ideas and information for the creative brief from that document as well.

Below is a quick and easy template that can help designers develop strong creative briefs. Just remember to use this as a rough sketch and tailor your briefs to meet each graphic design project’s unique needs.

Project Name and Start Date

Background
Write about the company’s history and how the project you’re working on will fit into the big picture. Why is the graphic design project needed? What goals will the project achieve? Are there any past projects to build from and improve on? It is key to speak with the client directly to develop this section.

Objective
What is the end product, and what is the fundamental purpose of the end product? If you are designing letterhead for a law firm, you could mention the integrity and high caliber of work that the letterhead must represent to clients and colleagues. To expound upon the Objective, add a bullet-point list below of design-specific objectives such as “maintain brand integrity” or “increase awareness of company’s ecological focus.” You can also include a list of measurable objectives such as sales goals, membership goals or response rates.

Audience
Describe the recipient, viewer or end-user. What is the target audience for this project? It helps to touch on audience demographics such as age, gender, location, occupation and any other relevant details. Then, describe how your audience will interact with the end product.

Design Principles
This section can be optional and may or may not be necessary to your project. Describe the intent and tone of the design and copy. Is this a serious communication, something humorous, informational or a sales-driven promotion? This paragraph should outline the creative direction of the piece.

Requirements
List any specific pieces of copy or design that must be included in the final product. Logos, URLs, telephone numbers, trademarks, copyrights, legalese and important copy can all be listed or referred to here so that these important elements are not left out.

Stakeholders
Identify those on the creative and client side of the project and describe their roles and responsibilities for moving the work along. Be sure to list all people responsible for handing off materials, those in management or oversight positions, and those who project approvals should be sent to.

Design Deliverables
List the end products which will be handed over from creative to client. Keep this information high-level and specific. For example, “One 5-inch by 8-inch postcard for in-store promotional use, one 8.5-inch by 11-inch tri-fold brochure, and one mailable 4-inch by 6-inch postcard.” Also list the specs for each deliverable such as paper stock, paper treatment, color and quantity.

Timeline
Sometimes at the creative brief stage, the exact timeline is hard to render. At the very least, address how and when the client and creative will determine scheduling for the project. Try to nail down a firm deadline in this paragraph, such as when you want the graphic design product to be finished printing, or when you want it to be in the hands of the end-users. If possible, note some of the biggest milestones for the project, including approve design concept, deliver first draft, revise, approve color PDF, deliver finished file to printer, and mail or delivery date.