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How to create a design brief for a startup project

Today I’m going to answer a question from Sacha, the co-founder of a B2B marketplace. His question is…

How do I create a design brief for my startup project?

Before answering this question, let’s add a bit of context.

Sacha has already developed the first version of his solution. Not being a designer himself, he is asking how he can effectively delegate a redesign of his project.

What’s a design brief?

First off, what’s a design brief?

It’s a short document that introduces a creative project and summarizes its new design expectations.

To create a good design brief, you will need to clearly define who you are as a company, what your goals are and what you want to become.

Let's jump right in.

Design brief structure

  • Company description
  • Project description
  • Audience description
  • Branding details
  • Expected deliverables

Here is how I recommend a design brief to be structured: first, the company description, then the project description, the audience description, the branding details and the expected deliverables.

Company description

  • Purpose
  • Goals & strategy
  • Existing designs
  • Likes & dislikes from current material

Let’s start with the company's description.

In any organization, in any project, and especially for startup projects, your team needs to understand what you do. It’s even more important when it comes to design because your designer is in charge of how you communicate that purpose to the world.

So for your company's description, you need to describe: your purpose, goals and strategy, existing designs (it’s important to provide your existing materials like logos, fonts, colors, etcetera), and what you like and dislike from your current material.

That’s the starting point. Then you should explain why you are going through this whole design process and what you want to get out of it.

Project description

  • Why this design project? Why now?
  • What sparked it?
  • What do you need help with:
    • Branding
    • Mood boards
    • Illustrations
    • Explainer
    • Logo
    • Storyboards

To do so, answer the following questions: Why this design project? Why now? What sparked it? It could be customer feedback. It could be bad conversion rate. What do you need help with exactly? The word “design” can mean a lot of things, so be explicit. Is it branding, mood boards, illustrations, explainer, logo, storyboards or the entire website? Just be clear on what you need.

Audience description

Next we need to focus on the most important part of any business: who are you doing this for? The audience.

Persona canvas

Using the persona methodology will help a lot to describe:

  • What their family structure is
  • What type of car they drive
  • What clothes they wear
  • What books or news they read
  • What type of websites or social media group they like

Using the persona methodology will help a lot to describe: what their family structure is, what type of car they drive, what clothes they wear, what books or news they read, and what type of websites or social media group they like.

Empathy map

To get even deeper into the psychology behind your typical customer, I would recommend using an empathy map as well.

Branding details

  • Likes & dislikes
    • Colors
    • Fonts
    • Brands
    • Websites
    • Objects
  • List of competitors

After describing your audience, you can move on to branding details.

What type of designs do you like? Give examples. Find colors, fonts, brands, websites and objects—anything that can help your designer get an idea of what you're going for.

Do the same thing for dislikes. It can be the same brands, websites and pictures—anything you can find on the Web that can help your designer really understand what you like and dislike.

And finally, add a list of your competitors. It will help your designer understand the market you are in, and how others approach your target audience.

Expected deliverables

  • Website
  • Social media banners
  • Templates (emails)
  • App design (UX/UI)
  • Logo
  • Objects
  • Source files (Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, etc.)
  • Due date & plan
  • Legal property of the material

And to wrap it up: deliverables.

What do you expect? Again, be explicit: website design, social media banners, email templates, app designs (UX/UI), logo or objects. Do you expect the source files like Photoshop or Illustrator files, or just the files for your website?

Don’t forget to mention the due date, the plan and the legal property of the material.


So in conclusion and to answer Sacha’s question, there's a formula I go back to over and over again:

Quality in = Quality out

The clearer you are on what you want, the less time your provider will waste. That means, there will be more time left to refine the final version of your product or your design, making sure it meets your expectations.

Sadly, I’ve seen too many projects that were never finished because the expectations hadn’t been set properly. So, be clear and explicit.

Now if like Sacha, you have a specific question for your project, just go ahead and ask on

I will do my best to answer your question by video or redirect you to any existing content that will answer it.

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I’ll be waiting for your questions, and I look forward to seeing you in other videos. Cheers.