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How to Create a Design Brief

Blog / April 27, 2022
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Designing in-store marketing materials can be both exciting and overwhelming. If you have a vision in mind, it helps to have a document to help you stay on track throughout the design process. If you have no idea what you want to do with your display or packaging, it helps to sit down and figure out what you need. You can easily do this through a design brief! Here is what you need to know to create your own:

What is a Design Brief?
A design brief is a document that outlines all your wants and needs. It is a piece of vital information for everyone involved in the packaging design and production process — both internal and external. A good design brief can act as a roadmap for your project that you can refer back to.

Who Creates a Design Brief?
There is not a single person that has to create the design brief; instead, it varies by company. For example, in smaller companies, the business owner may want to create the design brief based on their vision for the company. However, in larger companies, it is usually someone on the marketing or creative team. No matter who’s in charge of creating a design brief, it is important to involve more than just a single person in the process. Instead, involve a variety of stakeholders from different departments.

Why is a Design Brief Important?
A design brief is used to bring a vision to life. Design briefs help brands figure out what they are looking for in their display or packaging and help designers meet these expectations. Essentially, it keeps everyone on the same page, working toward the same goal. While design briefs are certainly useful, you only get out of them what you put in. Here is what you need to include to create an effective design brief:

1. Company Information
It is always a good idea to start a design brief with some information about the company. Talk about what the company does, what products/services it offers, and where they offer them (online, in stores, etc.) Include information about the wider industry you are in as well as the challenges facing your industry in general and your company specifically. Briefly mention future goals and directions for your company that may be relevant in the design process. You can talk about the problem you solve and what makes you different from the competition.

2. Brand
The next thing you need to consider is your brand. Are you a high-end brand selling expensive products, or are you an affordable brand selling affordable products? Are you a brand that cares about the environment? Are you a trendy brand, or are you a classic and traditional brand?

If you’re a brand that cares about the environment, you should consider recyclable components like corrugated. Eco-friendly packaging requires fewer materials, is more sustainable, and thus reduces your carbon footprint.

3. Project Overview
Once you have established what your company does, you can move on to talking about the project. What are you designing for this project? Why are you designing this product? What are some challenges that come with designing this product? What do you expect to receive at the end of the project?

4. Goals and Objectives
After the overview, you need to discuss the goals and objectives of your project. This is the most important part of the design brief. For example, are you looking to increase the protective level of your packaging for fragile items? Are you looking to design more cost-efficient display or packaging? Are you looking for materials that are eco-friendly? No matter your goals, it is important to lay them out in this section.

In addition to more abstract goals, you also need to discuss more concrete objectives. What would a successful project look like? How would you measure success in this case? What variables are the most important? Be realistic but ambitious in this section by setting goals and objectives that you can work to achieve.

5. Target Audience
Remember you are designing in-store marketing materials for your target audience. Who are they? What do they care about? How will they use your product? Why are they using your product?

6. The Competition
Since you are not the only company out there offering products and services in your industry, it is also a good idea to discuss the competition. For example, you could include information about your competitor’s displays and packaging and discuss what you like and dislike about it. You could talk about your competitive advantage and how you can exploit that with your displays and packaging.

7. Project Specifications
Now that you have laid a lot of the groundwork for your project, it is time to talk specifics. For example, you need to talk about your size and material requirements. You may also need to discuss your sustainability requirements. In the case of packaging, be sure to include what needs to be incorporated including legal information, artwork elements, etc.

8. Budget
With these specifications in mind, you need to outline your budget for the project. How much are you looking to spend per unit? How much are you looking to spend overall? Are you willing to pay more for specific designs or products? In this section, it is important to be realistic based on current rates in the industry — keeping in mind that this is another area where you get what you pay for. Instead of seeing displays and packaging as a waste of money, see it as an investment in your products and brand.

9. Timeline
Next, you need to set a timeline for when this project needs to be completed. Be sure to consider the different phases of the project, including the design phase, the approvals phase, the printing phase, and the shipping phase. Again, it is important to be realistic here as you likely won’t be able to go from the design phase to the shipping phase in just a few days. However, some packaging providers offer expedited timelines that you may want to consider if you are working with a tight internal deadline.

10. Deliverables
As you wrap up your design brief, you need to rope everything into the deliverables you expect to receive at the end of the project. In terms of the design, do you need a PDF? Do any images need to be in specific formats, sizes, or resolutions? In terms of the actual packaging, what products are you looking for? How many units do you need? Clearly outline all of this information in this section.

11. Approvals
Finally, you need to discuss approvals in your design brief. When are approvals necessary? Who is going to make these approvals? Who is going to make the final approval? In this phase of the project, it is important to be involved enough to get what you want but not too involved to slow down the process. For example, you may not want to approve every single element but instead approve different components at a time while working toward final approval.

A design brief is a key component to a successful display and packaging design process. While it may be tempting to jump right in and start designing right off the bat, it is often helpful to nail down the goals and requirements of your design. From there, you can work with your display and packaging provider to bring your vision to life.





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