Getting a good brief from a client

If you have to read through and respond to each and every design enquiry that comes in, it can take up you precious design time!

You don’t need to spend a large amount of time trying to get a clear brief out of a client. You can save yourself hours by creating your own bespoke design questionnaire. This not only helps you understand what a client needs but they also find it valuable in understanding their own needs for their business.

Design questionnaires

I have created and refined over the years as a logo identity designer, a design questionnaire or worksheet, that I either email a Word document to my clients or get them to fill it out from my website logo design page and return to me.

It is very simple to fill out and shows you that if a client does fill it out, you know they are interested in wishing to work with you.

Here are a some of the questions that I ask in the Logo design questionnaire  (You’re welcome to download and use the Word questionnaire for your own – just change the logo to yours and update the contact details and terms to fit)

Here are some of the questions I ask:

  1. What is your business? 
  2. What is the full name of the company, address & registration details etc?
  3. Please enter the exact wording you would like to used in your Logo.
  4. If you have a tagline or slogan and would like it as part of your logo, enter it here.
  5. Is this a new brand or a re-brand?
  6. Please describe your company or product.
  7. Who is your target audience? 
  8. Logos you like/dislike.  Please attach/list their websites or logos and why you like/dislike them.
  9. Colours.  Do you have any preferred colours?
  10. Are there colours we should avoid?
  11. Do you have a preference on typestyles such as heavy, light, modern, classic, handwritten, etc?
  12. Do’s – Is there anything specific that must be included in your logo? 
  13. Don’ts – Is there anything specific that must not be included in your logo?
  14. Where will you be using your logo.  Please list in order of priority.  This will help us develop logos that will work effectively across all your marketing mediums.
  15. Who will be making the final decision on the logo design?
  16. Is there anything else you would like us to consider in producing your logo?

How NOT to brief a designer!

I came across a site (not online anymore). Users can submit design briefs they have been provided from prospective clients. Here are just a few of my favourite examples:

Funeral Business Fresh Logo: We need a new logo for our funeral company. I am looking for something fresh and alive to compensate for the dead side of the business.

Arabic Logo for English Speakers: I need a logo and banner for my website which offers online tutoring of arabic language to non-arabic speakers.The logo must be written in arabic, but in a way that English speakers will also understand what the wording means. You must speak fluent french to apply for this job.

Air Conditioning Company Website: We need this project presented to us as a turnkey project. It is for a residential Air Conditioning Repair company in a major US city. We will give you the name of the company, phone number and address. You are going to design, develop the website and the website content. You can find content on the company competitors websites. This will be developed as a WordPress theme, with a strong call to action towards telephone calls. We require the site to work as a mobile version with click to call easy button integrated to all models of mobile phones. You should be able to show the ability to complete this project in 48 hours.

A very funny site to read through – and if you’re a designer, Im sure you’ve probably received a bad brief yourself?


  • terra johnson

    Nice post. I was checking continuously this blog and I am impressed! Extremely helpful information particularly the last part 🙂 I care for such information a lot. I was looking for this certain information for a very long time. Thank you and best of luck.
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    • Thanks Terra, I hope it’s useful for you and save you time!

  • I have began to ask my clients these questions before new commissions. It can seem quite a detailed approach but it stops the misunderstanding that often occurs when I presume I know what the client wants and they assume I have understood their needs.

    • I learnt from a great art director when I was younger that you should never assume anything. It’s the mother of all @£$% ups!

  • very true- the danger comes when you think you are both thinking along the same lines and then you realise you were on different tracks!

  • Jeremy Marchant

    The idea that clients know what their business needs is
    fundamentally wrong.

    A predetermined questionnaire which assumes that its creator
    understands what he or she needs to find out from prospects he or she has yet
    to meet, or even knows the existence of, just makes the situation worse since, until
    you talk to the prospect, you don’t know what you don’t know.

    That these beliefs are widely held by service providers
    undoubtedly explains why there is so much bad graphic design, so many dysfunctional
    computer systems, and so many unusable electronic devices.

    Far from it being the case that “You don’t need to spend a
    large amount of time trying to get a clear brief out of a client”, in fact not only
    do you need to spend a considerable amount of time doing this but you have to
    be able to do it well if you are to establish with the prospect what their real
    need is as opposed to what they think their need is.

    Only one of your sixteen questions includes a word which should
    be an essential component of all the questions (“why?”).

    It’s inconceivable that the 16 questions, taken at face
    value, could enable you to develop something you were reasonably confident was
    fit for purpose since you don’t have a way of eliciting what that purpose is.

    • Hi Jeremy, Part of the reason in using a ‘simple’ questionnaire is to really get the person starting to think about their business – I find it’s a good conversation-starter to then build on further.

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