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Working with design agencies on better briefs

You know the theory. The better the design brief, the better and more effective the design work produced will be. There’ll be less to-ing and fro-ing over changes so a better brief will save both time and money.

At this interactive workshop, design management expert Chris Holt will take you through the practicalities of putting this into practice, building on the theory and on-the-job experience you already have, to make real improvements to the way you brief in design. You’ll be able to get better results for your business from the design work you manage and commission.

1. The brief

Chris will explore the point & purpose of the design brief – taking the size, scale & nature of the task into account:

  • What a brief must include, and how detailed it should be.
  • How to measure effectiveness and put key measures in place at the briefing stage.
  • Who should write and prepare the brief, and what else goes with it.
  • Treating the brief as a contract – decide and agree everything in advance.

This will be followed by an interactive session with your peers in which you’ll role-play and discuss:

  • Presenting the brief to the agency.
  • Free pitches vs credentials presentations.
  • Creativity & flexibility.
  • Deliverables.
  • Dealing with sensitive issues.
  • Managing expectations.
2. Response to the brief

Chris will take you through what to expect when presenting a brief to designers, and how to respond to design proposals when they come back from the designers:

  • How to handle challenges to the brief.
  • How to react to design proposals.
  • Objectivity vs subjectivity.
  • Alignment with original intent.
  • Managing creativity.

An interactive session will follow in which you’ll discuss and explore: presenting and defending creative work; approvals and making changes; likes and dislikes and when to ‘let go’ and trust your design team.

3. Discussion of issues

Chris will discuss and explore how to deal with issues and difficulties that arise around the brief:

  • Identifying common problems and how to deal with them.
  • Going over budget and time – and how to avoid it.
  • Understanding the language of designers and how to communicate with them.
  • Maintaining morale.
  • Delivering value for money.
  • Exceeding expectations.

Meet your peers who manage design in other organisations, find out how they work with briefs, and develop new ways of working for yourself.

You’ll walk away with the ability to improve your briefing processes, get better results with your design projects, and build more effective, long-term working partnerships with your agencies.

About: Chris Holt

Harrison-Holt Design & Branding Consultants specialise in design strategy, design management, marketing, branding and creativity.

Chris is trained and qualified in visual communications, and has a background as a designer in corporate branding. He began his career in design management in the late 1970’s and in 1999 he became a senior consultant in corporate brand realisation.

Chris has been a senior lecturer at Brunel University since 2002, he is module leader for Strategic Design
Management and is a joint-lecturer and manager of the Design Futures Programme.

Chris has presented his papers and ideas internationally at conferences in Montreal, New York, UK, Finland, Romania, Dubai, Singapore, Hong Kong and Melbourne.


Available as an in-house session for a group of 6 or more. Prices per person:

  • Standard rate £720+vat (£864)
  • DBA members £450+vat (£558)

We are able to offer the following discount structure to the standard ticket price, based on the numbers attending the session:

  • 8-10 people – 5% discount
  • 11+ people – 10% discount

To discuss availability, please contact us at or call 020 7251 9229.

All DBA events and training courses are subject to standard terms and conditions which can be read in full here.

Image credits: © Rawpixelimages |


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