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How to write a compelling brief to design agency

Creative and design agencies practice briefing. In simple words, a brief is a document with an introduction to the client’s business. The brief helps to identify the purpose of future cooperation and calculate the amount of work. The client’s appeal to the studio can be oral or written. Its content is much more important. We have several tips for people who want to contact a design agency with a request.

Analyze the market

A creative agency is not equal to a design bureau is not equal to a web studio. Even being in the same service market, companies differ in competencies, team size, work approach, and price tag.
You must clearly understand to whom and what you are going for. Some studios create mobile applications, and there are those who are huge in the development of sites on designers. The market is vast: study the portfolio of studios and their strengths before coming up with a specific offer.

Nextpage is a digital design agency with a focus on creating non-standard sites, developing an identity, and business consulting. We emphasize this on social networks and in every possible way broadcast through the content, but periodically clients contact us with a request, not from our area of ​​responsibility. We are not engaged in the promotion, contextual advertising, promotion, and SMM, but such requests come regularly. Recently a client came with a request to design a plate that is put on tables in restaurants.

Companies with the positioning of “jack-of-all-trades” should arouse, at least, suspicion. Of course, you need to look at the size of the agency. A rule says, — the narrower the focus, the higher the expertise. The team has already managed to fill up the bumps in working with orders in a particular area, and with a high probability it will be able to offer a more personalized solution than the studios that did everything, but a little bit.

We need a simple website on Tilda and an insta account promotion to 200 000. How much will it cost? Approximately.
We saw Project X in your portfolio and would like to discuss the opportunity to integrate some solutions into our area of interest. Tell me, are you engaged in the production of content or should we provide photos and videos?

Tell about yourself

You will be asked to tell about yourself. Not about your relatives up to the seventh generation and not about traumatic school experience, but you as a business. How old are you, what value do you bring to customers, who is your perfect customer, and who is your competitor, and what are your achievements.

The most convenient story format is a presentation. Years of experience, fuckups, insights, and bug fixes can fit in a few Keynotes slides. In a good way, a company presentation is your business card. With it, you form the first impression of yourself. She should be part of the startup pack for branding, but for initial contact, everything that we can collect on our own is suitable.

We are a young team of professionals.
We are a startup developing controllers and sensors for smart homes. We have 10 people in our team, we are moving forward in the domestic market.

Share your project expectations and goals

Why do you need a website? What does it mean or could mean for your business? In other words, what needs it should meet and what goals it should lead to.

The next important point is a scope work and a description of the project, as you see it. This may or may not include the transfer of content from older versions of sites, corporate training for employees, primary SEO optimization etc. In the process of further communication with the agency, these points will be discussed and clarified many times. Stages of work on a project can be added or cut back, but there will always be cornerstones that must be taken into account at the very beginning of work.

We think it's time to upgrade.
We need a corporate identity because we are launching the product on Kickstarter, and the team plans to exhibit at CES next year.

Who is who

One of the private reasons for the disruption of the transaction and the termination of work with the company is the inability to go to the person making the decision. There is a reinforced concrete rule in the industry – to present the design in person. As an exception, screencasts with a detailed comment by a designer or manager are suitable. But all this makes sense only if there is direct contact with the customer.
When writing an application to the agency, describe your role in the project, and tell about other decision-makers, if any.

I am a PR Manager of a company.
I am a PR Manager of a company. Final decisions on the project will be made by the creative director and owner, who will join the conversation later.

I want it this way

References are works that you can cite as successful example . Anti-references, respectively, are a red flags of what should not be. You do not have to have a clear vision of the end result. A selection of works that resonate with you is already a sufficient foundation for the designer.

We love customers who want to be directly involved in product development. Engaging in the early stages is important because it allows you to take over. If you immediately synchronize according to the style of the visual component, it is less likely that after 2-3 months of development you will see a foreign product that does not respond to you.

References to the agency can be transferred in any form. For especially creative clients, we share special tools that will help put together their ideas. There you can add pictures, videos, entire sites and you may also leave comments, what exactly and why you like / dislike. Our favorites are [] ( and [Miro] ( (former Realtime Board), because there you can collaborate immediately with teams.

I want it to be like Apple, but my boss considers Craiglist and Reddit to be a perfect design sample.
Find the references yourself, it is important for us that there is an emphasis on the product, additional information we’ve provided in PDF.

Content vary

Filling the site with suitable content is almost half the success. Using images from photo stocks is the most budgetary and soulless decision you can make. You can not seriously think about what you are better than competitors in the niche, and then gash the site with the same illustrative.
Create content yourself, hire a copywriter, order photographs, draw custom icons and original illustrations — top of the line. Only a business that is seriously committed to becoming a market leader can afford such a thing.

I thought it was your part. There are a million of these pictures in Google.
I have selected a couple of examples of illustrations and I hope that you will supplement them.

I wanted it done yesterday

Immediately highlight the timing. The project calendar of agencies is packed very tightly. Planning for new projects goes several months ahead. If you tighten communication at the initial stage, your project will go down in priority and an agency will start its work with another client.

Agencies always lay a safety cushion on time, but sometimes customers ask for whistle farts for a period of yesterday. On the part of the agency, agreeing to a deliberately impossible project is unprofessional. The risk of working in tight deadlines is the danger of cutting features out of the product in case of time constraints.

We would like to have a working site prototype in two to three weeks. It is possible without content, we just want to click on something.
We’re planing to launch the site in 3-4 months, but we are ready to discuss the terms.

It’s not about money

Your dream limits to your budget. The agency will offer you a solution in proportion to the amount you are willing to spend. You should not expect from the site for $ 1000 the functionality of the spacecraft. It is unlikely that the studio has a goal to rob you. It often happens the other way around – after a frank conversation with a client, it turns out that the site as a sales channel is not needed at all, and it is better to use the money to promote another product. In any case, honesty is the best policy.

The site is simple. A friend of mine said that there are work for $2000-3000.
We have studied the average price in the market for a similar product and we understand that we won’t get off with a little blood.

Give some details

If the project has certain requirements for adaptation, safety, or several implemented language versions are considered, mention it. Even if at first glance it seems that these are trifles that themselves will fall into place in the process of work, it is they that can significantly affect the shift in terms and mutual discontent.

Funny thing. I always forget to tell you, that the site must have support for the Arabic language.
We plan to launch in three European languages.

To sum it up

It does not matter whether it’s about creating a website, application, outdoor advertising or visual style, competent marketing always solves problems. In this case, rushing is a bad omen. It takes time to write a good application, but this reduces the likelihood that the creator will understand something “wrong” and the budget will be wasted.


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