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What Is a Graphic Design Brief?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 19 September 2016
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A graphic design brief is a detailed document supplied by a client to outline expectations and desires for a project. The designer uses it to develop rough drafts of designs, which the client can review and discuss with the designer to arrive upon a final version that meets the need. Clients and designers rely on briefs to keep a project on track and make sure that everyone's expectations are clearly understood at the outset of the project. This document goes into the client file for reference in the future.

Some graphic designers supply their clients with a list of questions or prompts to answer. These help the designer by ensuring that everything necessary will be on the brief. Others may simply ask clients to prepare a brief, and may provide some information about what kind of material should be included. It is also possible to develop a brief together in a series of meetings where the designer talks to the client about the project and takes notes, pulling them together in a coherent document.

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In this document, the client should discuss what is needed, which might be a logo, business cards, advertising materials, or other designs. The graphic design brief doesn't stop there. The client can talk about the desired look and feel, and should provide examples of designs that match the client's ideas for the project. The designer will not copy these, but they can help provide a sense of the desired aesthetic. If a graphic design brief says the client likes minimalist, modern design, for example, the graphic designer can avoid busy or fussy designs.

This document should also discuss the company. The client can talk about the products and services the company provides, what kind of image it wants to project, and the markets it wants to reach. A graphic design brief may include some financial information to give the designer an impression of size and growth capacity, which can be important for design development. The client also needs to spell out expectations in terms of pricing and time lines. Designers can use this information to prepare an estimate, and may show the client what kinds of options are available at different price points.

If a dispute arises during the design process, both parties can return to the graphic design brief. It is important to make sure this document is clear and detailed. Clients can add anything they want to it, and should make sure to list any questions or concerns. Having this information at the start can help the designer avoid common pitfalls and will reduce the chances that a designer will produce a finished product the client does not like.

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