What’s a brief?
The brief is the clear definition of the Communication Need. It sets out enough information to guide the designer’s thinking in the right direction for the Client and Audience. It should include (but don’t necessarily need to be in this order):
- Communication needs
- Target audience
- Expectations and constraints
- Possible presentation format
- Signatures of client & designer
A brief is like a pathway to the success of your project. It is very important to get the brief right at the beginning of the folio as the brief is the way viewers/assessors can understand that you’ve successfully responded to the needs of the client.
Information about the Client describes who and what you’re responding to through your design. You should include:
- Who they are
- What they value
- Context of the project
- For who/what
When you choose your Client, you can choose an existing company / organisation / institution etc., or make up your own. If you’re going to use an existing copyrighted material of the selected Client (e.g. City of Melbourne logo), you should contact the organisation to acquire the permission to use copyrighted materials on your work.
Below is a template of the Copyright Permission Letter – before you submit it, please discuss it with your teacher to confirm that you have provided the correct information.
2. Communication needs
Communication needs are the outline of what the Client wants you to respond to through your design.
- What they want you to respond to
- Possible outcomes (what you might produce at the end of Folio) (you’ll be elaborating on them under the section Possible Presentation Format)
- Application of the outcomes (where the design might be seen/used)
- Context (why this communication need is important, how your design will be beneficial for the Client, the imaginative ‘back story’)
Keep it concise and creative! Use words ‘may be’ ‘might be’ ‘can be’ instead of ‘I’m going to’ ‘the outcome will be’ – you don’t want to lock yourself into the situation where you have to produce what you mentioned in the brief.
Especially for the environmental design, keep the possible outcomes vague. See below for further tips!
3. Target Audience
Target Audience is a particular group of people who you are mainly responding to. Sometimes the Target Audience is the same for both Presentation 1 and 2, but can be slightly different depending on the Presentations. You’re constructing a profile based on attributes such as:
- Age group (e.g. people aged 20-40 years old)
- Gender (e.g. unisex)
- Interests (e.g. outdoor sports, animals, cooking, etc.)
- Socioeconomic status (e.g. having low to high income/ disposable income/ stable income, can afford to buy…)
- Possible purposes of engagement (e.g. for education, leisure, work, social gatherings, etc.)
- Location (e.g. live in the urban area / within 50km radius around the… / outer suburbs)
- Cultural/religious factors (e.g. familiar with… / having an understanding of… / having a cultural background of…)
Some attributes may be more relevant to your than the others (e.g. design of perfume for a luxury brand has a stronger relevance to the socioeconomic status of the target audience than cultural/religious factors).
Having a clear idea of your target audience will help you make good design decisions as you work on your Folio. You may want to use this target audience information to construct a mood board etc. once you commence the Research stage.
4. Expectations and Constraints
Expectations and constraints are the factors that you need to consider in order to respond to the brief. Here are some examples (you should choose what’s applicable to your brief):
- Communication design: contents of information, legibility, number of colours used, style, usability (e.g. web design)
- Industrial design: contents of information (if any), functionality, ergonomics, usability
- Environmental design: types of spaces
- Limit to the dimensions of the final outcome
- Limited availability of the materials
- Site constraints (Environmental design)
- Folio submission deadline
In VCD, “purpose” of your design refers to:
- To identify
- To inform
- To advertise
- To promote
- To depict
- To teach
- To guide
Context is where & how your possible outcomes will be seen by the audience.
7. Possible Presentation Format
Possible presentation format is what you ‘might’ produce as a design response to the brief. If possible, use “could be” or “may be” to keep it open for any future changes. Choose the presentation formats that you envisage creating at the end of the folio.
Don’t forget to sign the brief & ask your client / your teacher to sign at the very end of the brief (with date). It’s important for the authentication of your work in accordance with the assessment. If you can’t sign on the printed copy, using Adobe Acrobat may be a good alternative method.
- Proof-reading: read it out loud to identify if there’s anything that might not make sense / doesn’t sound right. Get your friend / family member to have a read to see if the brief is clear for them.
- Check key words & information: for example, the purpose should have specific verbs (listed above). Make sure that you’re including all the key information for each paragraph.
- Keep it open: the brief sets the pathway for your design process, and so don’t entangle yourself too much. You might get better ideas as you research and develop your designs.
- Locate the completed brief in the very beginning of the folio: the brief comes before any pages related to presentation 1 / 2.