Graphic Design Brief | Complete Guide + Template

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When switching from Google Docs to HolaBrief, I found that our briefs became significantly more in depth
- Terri Williams, Agency Founder

What is a Graphic Design Creative Brief?

The design universe is huge. There is website design, logo design, brand design, and graphic design. So it’s a good idea to, first, define what is graphic design at its core. The Oxford dictionary defines it as:

The art or skill of combining text and pictures in advertisements, magazines, or books.

In other words, it’s a craft whose objective is to communicate a message through visual elements and words. So now the question is: why do graphic designers need a brief? Am I not wasting my time doing that instead of working on the project?

Although it might seem like it at a first glance, a brief is a powerful and foundational tool for good graphic design work. It’s a document that details every aspect of the project that the designer needs to do a good job - from the message that wants to be conveyed, to where the design will be placed, specifications, and even logistics information that will make the whole creative process easier.

Now that you know what is a graphic design creative brief, let’s move on to what makes a good graphic design brief.

What Makes a Perfect Graphic Design Brief Document

After reviewing hundreds of different graphic design briefs - both from personal experience and on the internet - we realized that all the good ones share the same characteristics. The next time you need to write a brief document, be sure that they possess the following 3 qualities:

  • Ask relevant questions

When designers and project managers create a graphic design brief for the first time, they tend to commit two mistakes. The first one is that they ask too many questions and fill the document with irrelevant exercises. The second one is that they don’t ask enough questions for the designer to do a good job. That’s why effective graphic design briefs include only relevant questions that will assist the designer in the process. So, the next time you build one from scratch, make sure that the questions you include serve a purpose and aim to extract a specific - and useful - a piece of information.

  • Organized

It’s one thing to ask pertinent questions that move the project forward, it’s another to organize it coherently. If the graphic design brief is disorganized, the client will fill confused and not sure where to start. That’s why effective briefs use outlines that guide the person filling the brief, step by step. Don’t worry about it, in the next section we’ll cover 5 must-have sections so you don’t make this mistake.

  • Accessible

This characteristic has two sides. The first one is that the client should have no problem receiving, filling, and locating the brief. The second one is that the designer should have easy access to the information contained in it since it will serve as a guide for his or her work. You can do this by saving the document on a Google Drive where everyone can access it or, even better, create one and store it in HolaBrief.

These are the three features that every successful graphic design brief portrait. So the next time you need to create one, have these 3 elements in mind and you’ll do an amazing job! Now let’s move on to…

How to Write a Graphic Design Brief? 5 Must-Have Parts

If it’s your first time, writing a graphic design brief from the ground up is intimidating. There is a lot that can go wrong and if you don’t get it written, the project’s success can be compromised. But don’t panic, if you include these 5 sections, there’s almost no way that you build a bad brief. Without further ado, let’s check them out!

1) Project Overview, Background, and Objective

The first thing to do when creating a graphic design brief from scratch is to collect the project and the client’s basic information. These may include:

  • Name of the company
  • A brief history of the company
  • A brief history of the project
  • What has been done in the past that worked
  • What has been done in the past that didn’t work
  • What do they want to accomplish with the new project

Although these questions may look inconsequential, it serves as an introduction for the agency/freelancer/designer into the company and, in the case that new people join the project, it will help them get in line fast and avoid unnecessary meetings.

2) Deliverables and Milestones

The second section that is a must-have is “deliverables and milestones”. Here, you detail what will be delivered. If the project is a book cover, the deliverables might be a modifiable version of the design, a PDF version, and even a mockup to post on social media. If the design is a commercial street poster, the deliverables might be a physical copy, and a high-definition PNG so that the client can print it himself.

Now, regarding the milestones. They are not completely necessary but we cannot recommend them enough. Scheduling feedback sessions and dividing the creative work in specific stages gives the client the possibility to review the design in the early stages of the process and potentially the creative hours of work.

3) Specification and Requirements

If it’s Facebook Ads design, for example, it’s a good idea to determine if the design will be for Instagram Stories, Reels, or the Facebook Feed, since they have different aspect ratios and sizes. If it’s a video, another specification might be its duration. 

Think about all the little details that need to be included so that the final product satisfies your client's needs. It might take a bit of time but you won’t regret it.

4) Customer Persona and Competition

Except for pure art, every graphic design is created for someone in mind. In other words, it needs to appeal to a specific group of people and cause an effect on them - it might be to make them buy the book, go to a restaurant, or click on an ad. That’s why creating a one (or more) customer persona will help the creative design with them in mind, which will make the work much more effective.

Another element that should be included is competition. Which are the client’s main competitors? What are they doing in terms of design? How are they communicating? Where are they publicizing? How does the client want to differentiate from them? All of these questions will give the designer a general overview of the industry and what can be done to help the client stand out.

5) Creative Direction

Finally, a must-have component of a comprehensive graphic design brief is the creative direction. Here the client should determine:

  • The style
  • Colors
  • Fonts to use
  • Way of communication
  • Examples of designs that they like

In general, this section needs to give the designer confidence and provide a guideline to follow. One word of recommendation though: don’t take this literally, the client might think they know what they want but the main objective is to solve a business need, not to satisfy their sometimes ungrounded demands.

Extra - A Good Graphic Design Brief Example

We know, this may sound like a lot, but don’t worry! In HolaBrief we care about your success and that you have the ability to create effective briefs from the get-go. That’s why we built a customizable graphic design brief that you can use and change to fit your requirements.

The only thing that you need to do is go to quickly create an account in HolaBrief for FREE, and then choose the graphic design template. Simple as that!

Build and Download Proven Graphic Design Brief Samples with HolaBrief

We know how difficult it is to build a good graphic design brief from scratch. We’ve been there and we lost a handful of clients for not doing it right. That’s why we developed HolaBrief, the first centralized and collaborative briefing platform.

Whether you are a creative freelancer or agency, you can leverage HolaBrief to design professionally-looking briefs, easily collect information from clients, and centralize everything in one place.

If you want to take your creative business to the next level, give HolaBrief a try!

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Explore More Templates

Build interactive briefs that your clients will love to fill out

Either pick from our tested templates or create custom briefs using interactive exercises like Moodboard, Customer Persona, or Competitors Map. Once done, send the link to the client so they can respond without the need to have an account.

Ready to create standout work in less time?

Join 1000s of agencies using HolaBrief to set up their projects for success.

Ready to create standout work in less time?

Join 1000s of agencies using HolaBrief to set up their projects for success.