Product Brief | 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 Product Brief?

A costly mistake that many businesses and teams commit is building something nobody wants. Good engineers are hard to find and very expensive. Although it’s difficult to be completely certain that a product will succeed before launching it, it’s possible to gauge its chances without writing a line of code. Enter the product brief.

A product brief includes but goes beyond what is going to be built and how we are going to build it. It tries to respond to why we should build something in the first place. So, the definition of a product brief is the following:

It’s a document that contains all the necessary information for the successful development and launch of a product.

It is a guide that serves as a north-star for the whole project and everyone involved since it summarizes the logic behind the efforts, scope, milestones, responsibilities, and general direction of the product. 

So, if you are interested in building products that solve business problems, reduce wasted resources (time and money) during its development, and eliminate communication issues between members of the team, implement a briefing phase in your process.

Types of Product Briefs

Building a product usually involves more than one person, and if the project is big enough, it will involve several teams performing different functions. In that case, it’s recommended to have a general product brief and specific ones for the specialized areas. Here are the most common ones:

Product Development Brief

As its name suggests, the product development brief covers the technical aspects of the project. It should guide the engineering department’s effort and serve as a communication tool that puts everyone involved on the same page. It also serves as a way to introduce the project and get clarity on why they are developing the product.

Product Marketing Brief

You can have an amazing product that everyone will love, but if you don’t have a marketing plan chances are nobody will hear about it. And as you probably guessed, the best way to kickstart it is through a product marketing brief. 

If there’s a team in charge, we’d suggest you build a separate brief. On the other hand, if you are a startup and everyone is wearing different hats, you can include it as a section in your general product brief by writing down your customer persona, ways of communicating, channels that are going to be used, and more.

Product Design Brief

A product design brief contains all the relevant information about the UX and UI of the product. Since the nature of this brief is more visual than the ones mentioned above, mood boards containing pictures and a desired visual direction are common. As a good practice, make sure to include the development team while writing and completing this brief, they are a great source of ideas and will give the design team their point of view.

How to Write a Product Brief? Must-Include Sections

Writing a product brief can prove challenging if it’s your first time doing it. Since it’s the cornerstone of the team’s effort and the tool that will guide the entire process, you must do it right from the start. 

We’d love to give you a brief that will work for each project you’ll encounter, but that’s not the way it works - each brief should adapt to the product’s specific needs and requirements. Every good product brief share 7 sections that are guaranteed to lead your team to success and foster communication.

You can also use our customizable product brief template in HolaBrief for free and add or delete sections to fit your needs. Give it a try!

1. Project Overview

The first thing people should read when opening the product brief is an overview of the whole project. This section serves as an introduction to the whole endeavor and answers one of the most important questions:

Why we are building this?

Although it may sound inconsequential, the answer serves as a compass, from start to finish. It fuels motivation since it's clear that the efforts will not be in vain, there’s someone who will benefit from the finished product. It also helps determine the viability and usefulness of the project.

Other questions you can also include are:

  • A brief history of the company or startup
  • A brief history and context 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

2. Objectives

Every product is created for a reason and aims to solve a specific need. You might want to build an internal product for the logistics team that simplifies the tracking process. Or perhaps you are a finance startup that wishes to create a platform where low-income workers can find loans.

No matter your industry or use case, be sure to include the following questions:

  • What problem are you solving?
  • What’s the ultimate objective of the project?

If it’s possible to add a measurable goal, do it. It will help you determine if your product is successful or not and pivot based on your learning. Without one that serves as a benchmark, you’ll have no clue if your efforts were worth the time and money.

3. Customer / Final User

When your product is finished, someone will be paying and using it. In some cases, the one paying and the one using it will be the same person - typically the case for B2C products - and in some others, they will be different (commonly seen in B2B products like Salesforce or Intercom).

Be sure to describe them in detail and have a clear picture in your mind. Some questions you might include to define them are:

  • How old are they?
  • What do they do?
  • What keeps them up at night?
  • What’s their dream?
  • What are they interested in?
  • What other products do they use?
  • Who’s their boss?

In HolaBrief, we have an interactive customer persona builder you can use to help you construct them collaboratively. Try this feature for free!

4. Stakeholders and Responsibilities

Building a new product from the ground up usually needs the coordinated effort of many engineers, designers, product managers, and marketers. That’s why it’s important to include who are the stakeholders and their respective responsibilities. If you are not clear, you run the risk of letting aspects of your product without a person in charge and fostering miscommunication as well as fighting between team members.

Who is involved in the project and what are they in charge of is something every product brief should incorporate if you want to be effective and reduce completion times.

5. Milestones

Just as Rome wasn’t built in one day, your product will go through different phases before it is are up and running. Creating milestones and attaching dates to them will give your team a roadmap that will keep them motivated and productive. On the other hand, if you are working with a client you can set up feedback meetings to give them the opportunity to share their thoughts about the product’s direction.

Here are what your milestones might look like:

  • Prototype
  • Mobile design
  • Desktop design
  • Development
  • Delivery

6. Technical Requirements

Each product will need to develop its own requirements to fit the needs of the customers it is trying to help. One perhaps needs a login feature that enables transactions between users, other needs an app that works for iOS.

Collect this information early own so that no time and money is wasted in features and requirements nobody needs. Also, try to make them as simple as possible and think with an MVP mentality, at least in the beginning when you are testing the viability of the project.

7. Visual Direction

Finally, your product brief should have a visual direction your design team can use as a guideline. In HolaBrief we have Moodbards where your team and client can upload images to that can serve as a starting point.

Elements that can be determined are:

  • Colors
  • Style
  • Structure
  • Fonts
  • Etc.

Extra. Proven Product Brief Examples

If you want to make sure you are building an effective product brief, include the 7 sections mentioned above. If you omit some of them, there’s a chance the process of developing it will be filled with miscommunication and hours wasted on unnecessary details that should have been taken care of before even starting the project.

You can create a HolaBrief account and utilize our product brief template for free if you want to see a decent example and adjust it to your needs and specifications.

Build and Download Proven Product Brief Samples

We’ve been in your place and know that writing a product brief from nothing can be difficult. You might be a designer or a developer that needs one but has never written one yourself.

For precisely this reason, we built HolaBrief and created tried-and-true templates for you to use and modify. You just need to choose the product brief option, customize it by adding or deleting exercises and questions, and either email it to someone or organize a meeting to fill it out.

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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.