POP Displays: How to Write an Effective POP Design Brief- Part I

We’ve been in the business of designing and manufacturing POP displays for nearly 30 years so, as you might imagine, we’ve seen more than our fair share of design briefs. Some of the design briefs we receive are very helpful, while others not so much. Most of the design briefs we get are from larger companies who have the knowledge and resources to put some real thought into what they are looking for in a POP display. It’s rare for us to get a design brief from a small or medium-sized company. But in many ways, design briefs might be even more important for a smaller sized company since they often have more at stake with respect to the success of their POP display program. In today’s blog, the first in a 4-part series, we will share the first 3 of 13 key aspects of an effective design brief from the point of view of what is most helpful to us as POP designers.


Writing an effective POP design brief isn’t something that should take a lot of time, but a small investment of time and energy can go a long way in ensuring you get what you want from your POP display program. An effective POP design brief should incorporate the following 13 key elements:

● Overview and Objectives
● POP Display Description
● Materials/Colors/Inspirational References
● Product Description/Specifications
● Merchandising Ideas
● Retail Placement
● Brand Identity
● Target Consumer Profile
● Competitor References
● Art Work
● Budget and Timeline
● Shipping and Delivery Requirements
● Assembly/Installation Considerations

Let’s take a look at the first 3 key design brief elements.

1.    Overview and Objectives- It’s helpful to begin a design brief by outlining the big picture. Start by taking a step back and asking yourself, “What is the purpose of the POP display program. What do I hope to accomplish? What are my specific objectives? How will I judge the success of the program?”  Think about the overview and objectives section of the design brief as something similar to an elevator pitch. How would you explain your POP display program to your mother in a single sentence?

After articulating your program overview and overarching goal, try to make your objectives as specific as possible. Try to establish a set or measurable program performance metrics. Are you looking to use the display to secure placement in 500 stores? What percentage increase in sales do you hope to achieve? How about targeted sell-through rates and number or turns you are targeting? What revenue do you hope to achieve?


This section of the design brief does not need to be long, and it is not necessary to include all of your detailed goals and objectives, but these are questions you need to be asking before embarking on a POP display program. It’s up to you to decide how much you want to share with your POP display firm, but at a minimum you need to be able to communicate in general what you are trying to accomplish with the program.

2.    POP Display Description- This section of the design brief provides an opportunity for you to share your vision of what you want your display to look like. Is it a floor display or a counter display? Are you looking for a 1-sided display or a display that is shoppable from 360 degrees? Do you have desired dimensions in mind? If so try to provide some general guidelines for key dimensions such as width, depth, and height of the overall display as well as things like shelf dimensions (specify inside or outside dimensions if possible). Alternatively, providing not-to-exceed dimensions is always helpful.

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Do you want the display to be modular and configurable? Does the display require wheels so it can be moved around? Should the display spin? Are you envisioning a shelf display, a hook display, a display with baskets or other accessories or even a combination of these? Providing as much detail as possible on the type, structure, and mechanics of what you are looking for will ensure that you and your display company start off on the same page.

3.    Materials/Colors/Inspirational References- In this section of your design brief, you should share your material and color preferences. If you have a natural product that you are trying to get placed in Whole Foods, maybe you are looking for a wood display with a dark stain to match Whole Foods store décor. Or perhaps you know you want an acrylic display or a cost-effective wire display. If you envision a wood display made out of MDF with a particular color of laminate that goes well with your packaging, then share a picture or swatch of something close to what you want.

This section of the design brief should be fun. Sharing inspirational references helps the designer develop a better understanding of your design intent. Go on Pinterest and find examples of things that inspire you and that you want to incorporate in your display. Below are a few examples of the kinds of inspirational references that are helpful to us in the design process.


In Part II of this blog series, we’ll look at the next 3 key elements of an effective design brief.

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