Design Brief

The design brief 1 is the first stage in the design process. It defines the design problem and the desired result. There are several components in an effective design brief.

The design problem

In consultation with the client a designer starts by defining the problem which the design will address. For example the client may require new badging for a club or company, they may want to educate people about an issue or they may want to advertise a product or service.

The audience

What is the audience that the graphic designer is to address with their design. This has a big impact on the type of design produced. Things to consider at this point are the age, gender, socioeconomic status, interests, cultural background and location of the audience. As an example here are two logos for brands of iced coffee.


It is not difficult to see that these designs are aimed at a different audiences.

The purpose

The purpose of the graphic is important to make clear in the design brief, as it has a big impact on the content. The purpose of a design might be to educate, advertise, tell a story, depict a scene, etc. In the iced coffee logos above the purpose is to brand the iced coffee, so this case the designers have produced simple graphics which identify the product. The aim is that the logo will be attractive to the specified customer group and attract them to the product. They will also easily identify that and related products when they shop.


In this poster the purpose was to promote a music concert, so in addition to considering the audience the brief would have required the inclusion of specific information, which had an impact on the result. In summary the purpose has a big impact on the design.


The context of a design is also important. If a poster is being designed for a billboard beside a freeway then it will need to impact people driving past at high speed, so a design that has fine detail and text will not work. An advertisement placed in a fashion magazine must appeal to people with that interest. These are just examples of where the context needs to be considered in the design brief.

Constraints and requirements

Constraints are restrictions or requirement for the design. A poster advertising a concert must have certain information like the date, time and location included. The client may also have limitations on the cost, there might be time constraints and there also might be constraints on the materials and techniques to be used. All these things need to be included.

The client

The client may have requests of requirements. There may be a corporate style which must be adhered to. For instance an information brochure for a government department may need to include certain logos and information. A client may have a corporate culture that must be presented, for instance a bank may specify that their new logo convey security, stability and connection with the past.


Based on all other considerations what techniques and methods will be used? If it is an animation what animation technique is best? Will the designer be photo-shopping a photograph, creating a 2D cartoon image, a stop motion animation, etc?


In developing the design brief all these things need to be considered and written down at the start of the design process to achieve the best result. The design brief should include sections on:

  • Defining the problem
  • Audience
  • Purpose
  • Context
  • Constraints and requirements
  • Client
  • Techniques and methods

All these things need to be covered in a good design brief. Otherwise the designer runs the risk of presenting their completed work and being sent back to the drawing board by the client.

1. Guthrie, K; Visual Communication and Design VCE units 1-4; 2nd edition; 2008; Nelson (Australia)
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