This study addresses the strategies used by students to develop a design brief during the 2018 edition of the Global Studio, a cross-institutional project. In the Global Studio, students from different universities around the world work in paired teams simultaneously as clients and designers. In 2018, the theme was "local mobilities", challenging design students to propose a solution for a local problem presented by their counterparts. Then the teams were asked to define an initial problem and prepare their design brief. This process involved common design activities and techniques such as contextual research, desktop research, and problem definition. The design briefs were published at their counterparts' blogs and analysed before the teams started their work as designers. Three teams from Brazil, worked with two teams from Turkey and one team from Japan. The analysis of how these students designed their design brief was the main objective of this study. The study adopted the following methods: observations, document analysis and interviews. Results demonstrated different levels of expertise and experience across teams. They suggest that strategies employed are associated both to individual backgrounds and to institutional effects.