This Determines Your Project – How to Write a Good Brief

  • Icon Holy Studio
    Holy Studio
  • 14 November 2023
  • 21 min reading
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Have you ever wondered why some projects proceed smoothly while others stumble at every step? The answer often lies in thequality of the prepared brief. We’ve created a guide that will not only explain to you the importance and significance of this tool, but also show how to avoid common mistakes and pitfalls.

Whether you're an experienced project manager, entrepreneur, or someone just starting out in the creative industry, this article is for you. Thanks to it, you will understand how awell-prepared brief can speed up project work, facilitate communication, and most importantly – lead to outstanding results.

From this guide you will learn:

  • How to effectively communicate expectations and business goals in a brief
  • How to avoid typical mistakes when creating a project brief
  • What specific benefits a well-prepared brief brings
  • How a professional studio supports in the process of creating a brief
  • What designers' approach to the client's brief says about them
  • What elements are key in an effective brief
  • How to properly select and present inspirations, avoiding traps
  • What are the potential consequences of omitting important information in a brief
  • How involvement in the process of creating a brief affects the quality of collaboration with designers
  • When and why it is worth signing a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) before sharing the brief with designers

Why do you need a good brief?

A design brief is not merely a formality – it isthe foundation of effective project implementation. Its thorough preparation brings many benefits, from strengthening the business position to improving the quality of cooperation with the team. In this chapter, we will examine how a strategic approach to this tool can contribute to the success of your venture.

General benefits

The effectiveness of project implementation is directly related to the quality of the initial guidelines. A well-constructed brief brings a range of benefits:

  • Clarity of objectives – precisely formulated goals in the brief ensure that both sides of the project have a clear understanding of its scope and direction.
  • Time savings – by avoiding unnecessary revisions and misunderstandings at an early stage, the implementation process becomes more efficient.
  • Budget control – clearly defined financial assumptions ensure that the project will be carried out within the established funds, minimizing the risk of additional costs.

Benefits for business

Every business endeavor carries risk with it. A well-prepared project brief can significantly reduce it:

  • Cost savings – avoiding misunderstandings and mistakes allows for significant savings in the long-term perspective.
  • Testing the potential contractor – the quality of interaction and response to the prepared brief can be an indicator of the potential partner's professionalism.
  • Defining the direction for the brand – the brief allows for a careful definition of the brand's values and characteristics, which is crucial for its further development.
  • Reflection on one's own business – the process of creating a brief requires a deep analysis of current activities, which can bring new perspectives and ideas.

Impact on cooperation

Efficient collaboration between the client and the contractor is the basis of a successful project. The brief plays a key role in this.

  • Building trust – a professionally prepared brief can demonstrate the client's commitment, which can build trust in the contractor.
  • Optimization of the process – detailed guidelines in the brief make it possible for the entire team to work in a more planned and efficient way.
  • Motivation for the contractor - well-defined goals and expectations increase team engagement and motivation.
  • Maintaining consistency - consistency in execution and communication coherence are extremely important, and a properly constructed brief is the foundation for them.

Key components of an effective brief

An effectivebrief defines the scope, objectives, expectations, and inspirations, creating a clear action plan and ensuring vision coherence between the client and the contractor. In this chapter, we will focus on the elements that should be included to serve as a reliable support for the design process.

Basic elements of the brief

Description of the brand and the company situation

This is the basis for understanding the context of the project. A brief description of the company's history, its mission, vision, and main values allows the designer to better understand the brand's DNA and its development direction. At this point, it is also worth describing the current situation of the company - is it a time of growth, a crisis, or perhaps expansion into new markets? Such information can significantly influence the choice of solutions.

Project goal

Understanding the project's goal is the foundation for any collaboration. Introducing a product to the market, refreshing the image, or increasing brand visibility requires different strategies. Therefore, precisely defining the goal helps in setting the right course for the project and ultimately tailoring it to the client's expectations and needs.


Competitive analysis encompasses not only the assessment of image aspects but also the consideration of a broader business context. While a designer can independently evaluate the visual attractiveness of competing brands, the client provides valuable information regarding sales effectiveness, market positioning or industry leaders. Therefore, it's beneficial to include information in the briefing that allows the designer to understand the full picture of the market – from both visual and business perspectives.


By identifying challenges, the company provides information about the obstacles it faces on the path to success. These can be market barriers, such as strong competition or rapidly changing customer expectations, but also internal challenges such as an inconsistent brand image or lack of coherence in communication. Making the designer aware of these difficulties will help you better tailor the project to actual needs.

Look at the examples:

  • Customer loyalty issue – difficulty in building lasting relationships with customers, leading to one-time purchases and lack of returns.
  • Challenges related to globalization – expanding into new markets entails the need to adapt the offer and communication to local expectations.
  • Conversion problems – despite high traffic on the website, conversion remains low, indicating potential issues with UX/UI or a complicated purchasing process.
  • Poor adaptation to mobile – in a world dominated by mobile technology, the intuitiveness and responsiveness of applications or websites are crucial.
  • Challenges related to ecology – for packaging brands, the challenge lies in designing eco-friendly packaging while maintaining its attractiveness to the consumer.
  • Brand's unclear identity – the brand encounters difficulties in communicating its message and values, which requires the creation of a structured and understandable brand strategy.
  • Difficulties in market differentiation – in a competitive environment, it is necessary to have a unique and memorable image, as well as a clear value proposition.
  • Failures of previous rebrandings – what becomes crucial is the adoption of a new, well-thought-out strategy that will take into account past mistakes and introduce the brand to a path of consistent, effective communication.
  • Difficulties in building trust – it is important to convince customers of the authenticity, quality, and uniqueness of the offer.
  • Rapid adaptation to changing trends – It is essential to monitor market trends and flexibly respond to the changing expectations of customers.
  • Communication of values to different target groups – The challenge is to tailor the message to the specifics and needs of diverse segments of recipients.

Target Group

Identifying the target audience is crucial for accurately directing the message and design aesthetics in a way that will interest and attract the appropriate customer group.

At this point, it is worthwhile to consider:

  • Demographics: age, gender, origin, education
  • Psychographics: interests, values, lifestyle
  • Behavioral data: what products they purchase, what media they consume
  • Geolocation: place of residence – local or global market
  • Family situation: e.g., single, in a relationship, with children, without children
  • Income level: indicating purchasing potential
  • Touchpoints with the brand: channels of interaction with the customer, e.g., social media, online store, email, brick-and-mortar stores, offline events.

Problems and needs of the end recipient

This is about his expectations, frustrations, and desires. If you already have specific data or research on the subject, it is worth sharing it with the designer. In the absence of complete knowledge, an experienced specialist will help you to identify and understand these aspects. Such an approach guarantees the creation of more effective and targeted solutions.

Scope of work

The scope of work is a specific list of elements that are to be designed or executed as part of a given project. A precisely defined scope of work allows for:

  • Avoiding misunderstandings – thanks to a clearly defined scope, both parties know the expectations.
  • Resource Estimation – enables a more accurate determination of the necessary budget, time, and other resources.
  • Schedule – establishes when and what stages of the project are to be implemented.

The scope may include various elements such as logos, packaging, a website, texts, applications, or prototypes. The final list will depend on the specifics of the project and the needs of the client. Cleardefining the scope of work at the beginning of cooperation eliminates ambiguities, optimizes the process, facilitates budget management, and promotes effective monitoring of progress.

Budget and timelines

Submitting a budget proposal provides a realistic outlook on the scope and level of difficulty of the project. This allows the designer to more accurately determine which tools and techniques will be available within the given budget. Indicating deadlines, on the other hand, gives clarity in terms of time expectations. It is important to remember not to set deadlines too rigidly – the designer should have some time margin for potential revisions or unexpected complications.

Inspirations, benchmarks, stylistic preferences

Inspirations are a crucial element of the brief, directly shaping the creative direction of the project. They reflect not only your preferences but also guide the designer, offering specific stylistic and creative guidelines. They can come from various sources: from competing brands, through current design trends, to culture or nature.Inspirations are key reference pointsin the design process.

Moreover, it is also worth pointing outbenchmarks, which are examples of best practices in the industry. Benchmarking is the analysis of market leaders' performance, which allows assessing one's position relative to the best. By presenting specific projects or brands considered as quality standards, you can set a desired direction.

In the context of stylistic preferences, it's important to accurately describe both what you like and what you want to avoid.Defining antipatternsis crucial because it prevents the designer from inadvertently applying inappropriate solutions, which can extend the creative process and increase the need for project revisions.

Remember aboutadjusting the indicated inspirations to the realities of the project, both in terms of your financial capabilities as well as technological. Not considering these aspects can lead to misunderstandings and unmet expectations.

Differences in the brief for a new brand and for rebranding

When preparing a brief, it is worthwhile to realize thatthe process for a new brand and for rebrandingdiffers significantly. Here are some key differences:

New brand

  • Goals and vision – when creating a new brand, it is crucial to clearly define its mission and vision. What do you want to achieve? What values does your company offer and how do you want it to be perceived by the audience?
  • Market and competition – as a new brand, you do not yet have an established position among competitors. Your challenge is to identify gaps and niches in the market and define a direction that will allow you to stand out and gain the trust of your audience.
  • Visual and design elements - it is crucial to combine attractive design with a clear message. Consider how to blend colors, typography, and graphics with the message of your brand to make it recognizable and distinctive against the competition.

For new brands, the priority is astrong start in the market. To achieve this, it is essential to ensure authenticity, uniqueness, and consistency in visual communication. The risk lies in imitating the competition and underestimating the importance of thorough market and audience analysis.


  • Brand history - it is essential to deeply understand how the brand has been perceived up to now, which aspects of its image were an asset, and which events or decisions affected its current image.
  • Elements to retain - in the rebranding process, it is important to identify and maintain those elements of the brand that are an asset and are highly regarded by the audience. By preserving them, you protect the value that the brand has already acquired.
  • Direction of changes– Choosing the scope of the rebranding – whether it should be a discreet evolution or perhaps a complete transformation – depends on a thorough analysis of market needs and the brand's aspirations in light of its audience's expectations.

Rebranding carries with itthe challenge of preserving the brand's essence while introducing significant changes. There is a risk of losing the brand’s distinctive features, which may confuse current customers. Therefore, a deep understanding of the brand's history and skillfully combining its core values with a modern image is essential.

Most common pitfalls and mistakes in preparing a briefing

Too general information

Inaccurate ortoo general information in the briefing can lead to ambiguities regarding the project scope and interpretation of your requirements. As a result, the design team may not achieve the objectives of the assignment, which may, in turn, lead to the need to restart the project with a different team.

Involving too many decision makers

Including too many individuals in the decision-making process can lead to discrepancies and a lack of a unified vision. To ensure the project maintains coherence and clarity of direction, it is crucial to designate one, at most two individuals who will represent the company's position and make key decisions.

Lack of flexibility and openness to creativity

Although a well-prepared brief is extremely important, it is worth leaving some room for creativity for the designer. Too restrictive guidelines can limit their possibilities and affect the final result of the project.

Neglecting the importance of the brief

Not attaching importance to the careful preparation of the brief results in numerous complications during the project implementation. Neglecting this step, reducing it to a routine duty, or shortening the time allocated for its creation results in an incomplete and imprecise document. Such an approach forces project teams to have additional meetings, clarify ambiguities, and make corrections. The result is delayed timelines, increasing costs, and the risk of misunderstanding the client's exact expectations. To avoid these pitfalls, it is crucial to perceive the brief as the foundation of effective collaboration and a guarantee of project success.

The inspiration problem

Choosing inspirations that are unrelated to your brand or target group can lead to a loss of uniqueness and ineffectiveness in communication with your target group. Instead of being guided by personal preferences or copying the competition, it is worthwhile to seek inspirations that trulyreflect the character of your brandand speak to your target audience.

Omitting key information

Overlooking important information such as a precise description of the target audience, deeper understanding of the market specificity, or concrete business expectations can lead to serious inaccuracies in implementation. Without this information, the contractor may not see the full picture, which increases the risk that the project will not meet your expectations and will require costly revisions or rethinking the concept from scratch.

Neglecting consultations with a designer

Many companies make the mistake of not consulting with potential designers. Thanks to their experience, a designer is able to indicate which information is crucial and needs to be specified. If you encounterquestions in the brief that seem unclearor you're not sure how to respond, it's worthwhile to discuss this with a designer, rather than leaving them unanswered.

Lack of clarity regarding priorities

Not defining the importance of various project components can cause the project team to focus on tasks of lesser importance. To avoid this mistake, it is necessary to precisely indicate which aspects are critical and which can wait. Such a hierarchy allows focusing on the most important goals and delivering the project in line with client expectations.

Mistakes such as having too general information or omitting key details can lead to ambiguity and misunderstandings of expectations. Involving too many decision-makers results in a lack of a unified vision, and excessive restrictions limit the designer's creativity. Underestimating the role of the brief or not consulting with the contractor are common mistakes that lead to unnecessary complications and prolong the project execution.

Consequences of not preparing a good brief

There is no second chance to make a first impression, just as there is no room for mistakes in the early stage of a project. Preparing for cooperation is something more than just creating a list of wishes and expectations; it is the foundation on which the entire project is built. Neglecting this phase can lead to many consequences that will affect not only the project but also the overall success of the company. What could be the effects of improper brief preparation? Let's take a closer look.

1. Delaying the project execution

Unclear or incomplete information in the brief can lead to numerous revisions, amendments, and discussions. This not only extends the project execution time, but also means that human resources are used less efficiently. Instead of focusing on creating, teams spend time clarifying ambiguities.

2. Additional Costs

An imprecise brief can generate costs that might not be visible initially but can become significant over time. Revisions, additional meetings, and even the necessity to revert to earlier stages of the project can significantly impact the budget. As a result, the project may exceed the planned expenses.

3. Dissatisfaction with the Final Result

When the brief does not accurately reflect the client's vision and expectations, the final result may deviate from the initial assumptions. This can lead to client dissatisfaction and the necessity to implement changes after the work is completed.

4. Failure to Meet Business Objectives

The most important goal of any project is to achieve specified business outcomes. Unfortunately, if the brief is not well-prepared, the project may fail to meet these expectations. As a result, all the effort and resources allocated for the project can be improperly utilized.

5. Lack of Consistency with Company Image and Market Expectations

If the brief does not contain precise information about the company's nature, its values, and expectations, the final project may not be consistent with the brand's image. This can affect not only how it is perceived by the target customer group but also complicate brand recognition in the market and its positioning amidst competition. Ultimately, this may lead to not achieving the intended business goals and losses in investment.

How can a designer help you?

If you are not sure how to create the right document, an experienced designer can bring a lot of value to this process.


Before starting cooperation, it is worthwhile to conduct a preliminary conversation, which will allow both parties to understand expectations, goals, and the scope of the project. The designer can then ask specific questions that help define the key aspects of the brief.

Special workshops

Organizing workshops allows for a deeper understanding of the client's needs and vision, in the case of very large projects it is worth considering this option. This service comes with additional costs, but its value in the context of a successfully conducted project is invaluable.

Information gathering tools

It's important to make sure that the designer has the appropriate competencies and experience in creating research tools. If so, they can help in constructing the right surveys, questionnaires, or interviews. However, if you need advanced research services and the selected designer does not have the necessary skills, consider using the services of specialists in this field.

Joint completion of the document

Some clients may have doubts regarding the scope and content of the brief. In such a case, it's worthwhile to arrange with the designer to fill out the document together, preferably during a meeting or a phone call. Such a brief should always be confirmed by email in writing so that both parties are sure they have an identical set of information.

Expectations for the materials provided

The designer should clearly define what materials from the client are essential to work on the project. Whether they are logos, texts, photos, or other specific elements - clear communication on this issue will help avoid misunderstandings and delays.

How to recognize experts by the brief?

A brief is not only a document for the designer but also a tool that can help the client in assessing the competence and professionalism of the design studio. Here are some criteria that are worth considering.

The Way Designers Ask Questions

A professional design studio is characterized by the ability to ask specific, intentional questions that demonstrate an understanding of the project and the client's industry. The way questions are formulated and information is gathered testifies to the experience and the committed approach to the client.

Flexibility and Openness to Suggestions

A good design team will be open to proposals and comments while maintaining confidence in their competencies. The ability toflexibly adapt to the client's needsis an important indicator of professionalism.

Consulting and Pointing Out Potential Problems

An experienced design studiodoes not limit itself to just executing the tasks set before it. It can also advise, point out potential problems, and propose alternatives. Moreover, such designers often show initiative, suggesting additional, valuable solutions to the client.

Understanding and Interpreting Business Goals

A solid designer thoroughly analyzes the information contained in the brief to clearly define and understand the client's business goals. Based on these goals, he proposes strategies and solutions that help achieve them. Beyond just understanding the goals, such acreative partneris also able to suggest modifications or additional steps that yield better results.

Precision in Communication

Communication is the key to effective collaboration. A professional design studio provides abrief, which eliminates unnecessary details and allows avoiding ambiguities. It ensures that all information is presented in an understandable way, while also avoiding the excessive use of industry jargon.

Response to gaps in the provided material

Even the best-prepared brief may contain certain informational gaps. A professional design studio can identify these gaps and strives to fill them. Whether it's through asking additional, precise questions or suggesting a meeting for thorough analysis and consultation – responsible designers opt for a comprehensive approach, so the final project aligns with the client’s expectations.

When to sign an NDA?

A project brief often contains important information about the project, company strategy, customer data or marketing plans. Therefore, in many cases, it can be crucial to ensure that this information does not leak to third parties. This is when an NDA, or Non-Disclosure Agreement (also known as a confidentiality agreement), is useful in protecting this information from access and exploitation by unauthorized persons.

When is it worthwhile to sign?

  1. Unique ideas and concepts – if the brief contains original ideas that are crucial for the success of your project or company.
  2. Sensitive data – if the document contains sensitive data, such as financial information, customer data or unique market strategies.
  3. Competitive information – if the information contained in the brief could be used by competition to your disadvantage.
  4. Trade secrets – if your brief contains information that is considered a trade secret of the company – such as recipes, algorithms, production methods.
  5. Customer data – if you plan to provide the designer with data that is legally protected (for example, by GDPR in Europe).

When might it be unnecessary?

  1. General information - if the brief contains only general information about the project that is widely publicly available, an NDA will most likely be unnecessary.
  2. Small project scope – for small, short-term projects that do not contain key business information, the process of signing an NDA may be excessive.
  3. Known collaboration – if you cooperate with a supplier or contractor with whom you have long-standing and trusted relationships, an NDA may be less significant.
  4. Preliminary talks – if this is the first phase of talks and you are not yet passing on specific information, there is no need to sign an NDA. You can always proceed to it at the next stage, as the discussions progress.
  5. Publicly available information – if most of the information in the brief is already publicly available and does not constitute any trade secret, an NDA is unnecessary.
  6. Let the other party – if the potential contractor has reservations about signing an NDA and you consider the risk of information disclosure to be low, you may forgo such an agreement. Of course, such a decision should be carefully considered.
  7. Costs and time – the legal process associated with preparing, negotiating, and enforcing an NDA can be time-consuming and costly. If the project is small and does not require special protection, the time and money spent on an NDA might be better used elsewhere.

Consequences of signing an NDA

  1. Lengthening the formalities – before undertaking actual cooperation, one must go through the stage of negotiations and signing the agreement, which can delay the start of the project.
  2. Restrictions for the designer – a confidentiality agreement may cause the designer to feel restricted in sharing their ideas with the team or utilizing external consultations.
  3. Legal consequences – violating the terms of an NDA can lead to legal consequences, which deters both parties from breaching the agreement.

Thoroughly analyze the content of the NDA to ensure that all key aspects are adequately protected, and that both parties understand the scope and consequences of breaching the agreement. In some cases, it is advisable to seek assistance from a lawyer specializing in intellectual property law or contract law.


1. Benefits of a good brief

It serves as a guide for the project. It provides clarity regarding goals and expectations, minimizes the risk of misunderstandings, and helps achieve the intended final result. It facilitates effective communication between the client and the project team, eliminating potential obstacles and barriers. It saves time and money by focusing efforts on the key aspects of the project.

2. Differences in a brief for a new brand and rebranding

Creating a brand from scratch differs from working on a rebranding. Each of these processes requires an individual approach and understanding of specific needs and expectations. In the case of a new brand, it will be crucial to describe its business objectives and vision, identify market niches and leaders, and specify how visual elements should distinguish the brand and influence its recognition from the outset.

On the other hand, companies opting for rebranding should describe the history of the brand in a way that helps designers thoroughly understand its initial situation, possibilities, and difficulties. It's necessary to establish which elements of the image will be preserved because they constitute the foundation of the brand, and which should be changed, and in what way.

3. Key elements of the brief

An effective brief cannot lack key components, as each of them influences the final shape of the project. These are usually: description of the brand and the company's situation, competition analysis, project objectives, challenges and difficulties, target group characteristics, scope of work, budget and time frames, inspirations and benchmarks.

4. Most common pitfalls and mistakes

An incomplete or unclear brief can lead to errors and misunderstandings. It is essential to understand potential pitfalls, such as lack of precise guidelines, failure to define key assumptions, involving too many people in preparing the document, lack of clear priorities, or mismatching inspirations with the actual situation and capabilities of the company.

5. Consequences of not preparing a good brief

Lack of details in the brief can lead to delays, additional costs, dissatisfaction with the results of the work, lack of coherence in the brand image, or failing to meet the business objectives of the project. To avoid undesirable consequences, it's worth investing time in its careful preparation.

6. How can a designer help you?

A professional designer is not only a person who performs a task but above all a good advisor. Their experience can be invaluable during discussions, especially in technical or stylistic issues. They can offer consultations, preparation of special workshops, design of dedicated research tools, which will extend knowledge about customers, or support in the form of filling out the document together.

Thebriefing stage itself can be helpful in assessing the professionalism of the designer. Active support, engagement, and communicative skills are just some of the signs of an experienced partner.

7. When is it worth signing an NDA?

In certain projects, especially those involving sensitive data, it is worth considering signing a non-disclosure agreement. It protects both parties from unauthorized disclosure of information. Consider this if your ideas are unique, the brief contains competitive information, sensitive data, client data, or information considered trade secrets.


Thank you for taking the time to read our guide. We hope that it has helped you understand the key aspects of creating a good brief and has drawn your attention to potential pitfalls and challenges.

If you're planning your branding project, we have something that might interest you. Get in touch with us, andwe will send you a special brief templatethat will help you organize all the key information about your project quickly and efficiently. If you have any questions or doubts, we are here for you.

Are you interested in collaborating and want to receive our brief template?

Contact us