How to Create a Product Brief Strategies, Best Practices, & Examples

How to Create a Product Brief: Strategies, Best Practices, and Examples

Launching a new product or feature has many moving parts, from managing budgets, ensuring all your stakeholders and colleagues are on the same page, and aligning the product features with customer needs.

A product brief serves as a foundation of the product development process. Product managers use product briefs to document the product plan—its goals, attributes, and guidelines. Everyone involved in the initial stages of product creation uses this template as their North Star.

A well-written product brief is the foundation for effective product development for technical and non-technical team members. We cover the step-by-step process of developing and writing a product brief and share best practices to inspire your product creation journey.

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What is a Product Brief?

A product brief, also known as a product spec, includes critical details about the product, such as its purpose, features, target audience, product scope, technical specifications, vision, and the problem it aims to solve. 

It also provides essential information that a product team needs to develop a new feature that is used for a successful product launch.

This shared document is a guiding beacon for communication with cross-functional departments, as it has all the details in one place. 

In addition to being used by the product development team, product briefs are a user-friendly tool for new employees or team members to understand better the product scope and the products and services sold. 

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Why are Product Briefs Important? 

Product briefs are a failsafe document containing critical details related to the product. The primary purpose of any product brief is to provide clarity and direction, ensuring that everyone involved in the product development process shares a unified understanding of the product. 

Whether you’re developing products in the B2B space or for direct-to-consumer brands, the product brief is a single source of truth. Everyone can get the same information from a single document. 

It defines the product’s quality and timeline and simplifies the development process, resulting in a seamless product creation process and launch.

While a product manager is responsible for creating the product brief, everyone, including marketing, designers, and sales, finds this document useful. 

  • For example, the marketing team knows the precise language and positioning for organic and paid campaigns
  • The designers know the critical components of the product that need to be highlighted in the digital assets, such as web pages, emailers, and social media ads
  • The sales team knows the product’s business case, which lays a solid foundation for pitching the product to potential and existing customers

Equipped with the product details in a short document, the team understands the product context, process, key features, and other relevant information required to launch successful products. 

With a product brief in place, your team will be happier, more productive, and more efficient. 

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The Purpose of the Product Brief 

Clarity of vision and direction

The product brief provides a unified vision of the project development process. It outlines product development goals and directs all cross-functional team members to collaborate effectively. The strategic guidelines in a product brief help avoid potential misunderstandings. 

Guiding development efforts

While formulating the project launch strategy, defining essential requirements ensures that your team works towards a common goal efficiently. 

Risk mitigation

A product brief helps your product development team identify potential risks, such as bugs, and other end-user issues, such as potential objections by the target audience. 

Exploring ideas 

Some product development teams use a product brief to explore, brainstorm, and flesh out ideas. It provides a structured framework to document concepts and complex ideas before committing extensive resources to its development.

Flexibility and adaptability

You don’t need to stick to any particular format while writing a product brief; it can be of any format or length. A flexible product brief allows teams to tailor it to their needs and evolve with future advancements.

Reference point

Your product brief is a reference point throughout your product’s lifecycle. You can update, revisit, and refine it as needed, keeping the project aligned with its initial goals and adjusting to changing circumstances and client needs.

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The Process of Developing and Writing a Product Brief 

You would start writing a product brief during the early stage of product development to outline the essential elements and roadmap. However, consider the product brief an evolving and living document that can keep changing until the product is released.

In the early stages, use this document to align stakeholders, incorporate feedback, track progress, and answer questions in the product planning process. 

Understanding user stories

User stories are the foundation of a good product brief. They describe the interactions between users and products. 

When creating your product brief, the first step is to fully understand the product and identify the problems it is trying to solve. 

A good product brief should help you answer three key questions: 

  • What are the needs of your users/target audience? 
  • How can your product meet those requirements? 
  • What value does your product add to your customers’ life?

A well-drafted user story helps you determine the value of a new product or feature. Your marketing teams can use this information to promote the product, while your sales teams can reel in your customers with engaging product demos.

Highlighting risks and assumptions

Every product development journey is filled with uncertainties. But, you can mitigate them by identifying and addressing risks and assumptions in your product brief. While writing the product brief, list all the risks and/or assumptions that crop up during an in-depth validation process. 

Some questions to ask at this stage:

  • Is your product suitable for all customer segments?
  • Do you and your team have the technical skills to build the product? 
  • How is your product different from competitors?

When you flag such assumptions, you can mitigate risks effectively. 

Defining the Solution/Opportunity

A product brief should help you understand the product’s impact and what kind of business opportunities it can create. Highlight your product strategy, unique value proposition, key features, success criteria, and functionalities in your product brief. You should also outline the product metrics to measure success and the reasons behind picking these. 

Significance of Use Cases in Product Brief Development

Use cases help product marketers and managers understand how users might interact with a product. These real-world scenarios help users visualize the product’s functionality. 

For instance, a use case for ChatGPT would describe how users can use the platform to ask various questions on a specific topic instead of going over multiple Google search results.

Use cases facilitate a user-centric approach to product development and provide clarity, completeness, and effectiveness in a product brief. They also help identify risks by exploring potential challenges and obstacles users might face when using the product or a specific feature. 

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Product Brief Writing Best Practices

Whether you’re a seasoned product manager or an entrepreneur involved in product development, you must learn how to write a product brief to communicate your vision, align with stakeholders, and successfully launch your product. 

Here are the best practices for writing product briefs that captivate attention, inspire action, and pave the way for success:

1. Understand your audience 

The key to writing effective product briefs is understanding your audience. 

Who are you writing for? 

What are their needs, pain points, and goals? 

Tailor your product brief to resonate with your target audience, addressing their concerns and interests. 

For example, imagine that you’re developing a gaming app for children. In this case, you must understand a child’s screen habits to create an engaging gaming experience. 

You must also consider parents’ concerns, such as the health impacts of their children’s prolonged exposure to screens. 

A holistic understanding of your user base will maximize your product development process. 

2. Define your objectives clearly 

Always start your product brief by stating what you hope to achieve.  Whether gaining buy-in from stakeholders, securing funding, or guiding the product management and engineering teams, a clear objective ensures your brief stays focused and impactful.

Identify the metrics that help you build the success criteria on how the product will achieve your goals. This section should include the non-negotiable factors, purpose, benefit, and functionality. To avoid back-and-forth, add a short description of each non-negotiable factor. 

3. Keep it concise and use clear communication 

When writing your product brief, use straightforward language so all stakeholders, from a UX designer to a backend engineer to the beta testing team, can understand it clearly. This fosters collaboration and minimizes the risk of misinterpretation.

4. Provide context and background

A product brief must clearly explain the problem or opportunity your product addresses to bring all stakeholders on the same page. It should also include market research, customer insights, and industry trends to support your claims and build credibility.

5. Use bullet points 

Use bullet points or a similar structured format to make information easily digestible. Use bold formatting and include sources or links for additional reading

6. Include visuals 

A picture is worth a thousand words. Include visuals like product mockups, diagrams, and charts when writing a product brief. For instance, a D2C (direct-to-consumer) product manager should include screenshots of his app or website to make the brief more engaging and memorable.

7. Use a product brief template 

A product brief template streamlines the writing process and covers all essential components of the brief. Several product marketing software and tools offer pre-built product management templates to help you write comprehensive product briefs. 

ClickUp’s Product Brief Template helps product managers collaborate on product development, manage specs and feedback in one place, and outline the goals, solutions, and success metrics in an organized format. 

Align designers, developers, and your marketing team with ClickUp’s all-inclusive Product Brief Document Template

The good thing about this template is that it has pre-built ClickUp Docs that allow you to organize the critical elements of your product development process in a single cohesive living document. 

ClickUp Docs
Create, modify, and share collaborative product documents with ClickUp Docs

You can add nested pages, presentations, and tables in different sections of your brief. The comments feature allows you to track edits and feedback, embed links, and add document tags, enhancing your collaborative experience. What adds to the convenience is adding as many pages as you want to your Docs.

8. Analyze your competitors 

While writing the product brief, clearly mention how your product differs from competitors. Look at user reviews and feedback on similar products to understand the differentiators and your product’s unique selling proposition (USP). Customer-facing teams like sales and marketing can use this information to their advantage. 

9. Describe your product features 

While the product brief is created in the initial stages of product design, describe your product feature to give an overview of your vision for the product. 

This section will likely need updates based on stakeholder and audience feedback. However, keep asking yourself: How will the features benefit the user? Does the feature contribute to the overall goal and vision of the product? 

Use a Centralized platform like ClickUp to Create and Host the Product Brief 

ClickUp’s Project Management Platform supports product managers throughout the product development lifecycle—from creating a product brief to implementing it and beyond. 

With your team already using a project management tool, hosting all the details on ClickUp saves everyone the effort of learning a new tool or using archaic documents to host all details. 

Start writing effective product briefs with ClickUp for free.

Common FAQs

1. What is a product brief?

A product brief is a concise document outlining a product’s purpose, features, target audience, and problem-solving aspects. Product teams use product briefs as a brainstorming platform and a roadmap for product development.

2. What is a product marketing brief?

A product marketing brief focuses on the marketing aspects of a product, such as the target market, product positioning, consumer behavior, brand messaging, and promotional strategies.

It offers a comprehensive overview of the product’s marketing campaign, ensuring all departments can access the same information and collaborate effectively.

3. What are the requirements for a product brief?

A product brief should communicate the product’s features and capabilities, guiding the development team toward meeting user needs and market demands.

It should highlight risks and assumptions, helping the project team proactively address challenges while remaining aligned on expectations and timelines with all stakeholders. It also includes information on approval and authorization processes, specifying the roles responsible for endorsing the product brief and green-lighting the commencement of development.

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