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Brief tasks.

define
communication
needs.

The VCD design process begins with the brief. This is a document where the client identifies their communication need/s. A written brief ensures that a designer meets the client's wishes as requested. On this page you will find a heap of practical ways to learn about how to write a brief. Begin with tasks that unpack the meaning of all the terms and move to drafting and completing your brief.

WHAT IS A BRIEF?

A brief is a document that is written as a result of a client identifying a design or communication need. It is a kind of check list that explains what the designer will do for his/her client.

In Visual communication design, the brief is the beginning of the design process.

The brief identifies a problem and constraints around solving it. Many problems regarding a student's inability to think creatively stem from the brief defining a solution rather than describing a problem.

The brief also identifies deliverables that the designer must create for the client. In our study these are called the presentation formats.

HOW AND WHEN DOES A BRIEF ORIGINATE?

A brief begins in different ways and different times, according to the nature of the client, field of design and the communication need.

A brief can be informal notes written by a designer during a conversation with a client or a formal document delivered to manufacturers and designers.

A brief may begin with dot points then undergo a process of re-writing as aspects of a design problem and constraints and expectations are clarified through communication with a client. A formal brief, called a return brief is often written by a designer following these discussions.

A brief becomes part of a designer's contract and is used for evaluation of the designer's work.

CAUTION

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SPECIFICALLY FOR THE YEAR 12 SAT IN VCD

Teachers and students must consult relevant documentation for their course. Specifically, the ‘Study Design for Visual Communication Design’ and the ‘VCE Visual Communication Design: Administrative information for School-Based Assessment’ in the relevant year, both published by VCAA, must be used for up to date requirements of a brief for the School Assessed Task.

This information will include descriptions of the content required for a brief, formats to be used and word limits. They also document the requirements regarding when a brief is to be written, when it is to be signed off by the teacher and the correct assessment of a brief.

THE FORMAT FOR A BRIEF

There is no specific format required for a brief. Suggestions include a letter or email from a client or a document containing subheadings.

Briefs written from time to time in areas of study will have different requirements and kinds of deliverables.

A brief written for the SAT in VCE VCD requires the student to identify and describe two communication needs and two final presentations that satisfy those needs.

The content to include in this style of brief for the SAT is;

  • Description of client,
  • Target audience characteristics (may be written above communication needs where target audience is same for both communication needs, or may need further clarification further down as communication needs may be directed to different audiences),
  • Communication or design needs,
  • Presentation 1,
    • Description of communication need 1
    • Purpose of communication need 1
    • Context of communication need 1
    • Constraints and expectations relating to communication need 1
    • Proposed presentation format 1.
  • Presentation 2,
    • (Refocus of audience characteristics for communication need 2 if required),
    • Description of communication need 2
    • Purpose of communication need 2
    • Context of communication need 2
    • Constraints and expectations relating to communication need 2,
    • Proposed presentation format 2.

HOW AND WHEN DOES A BRIEF ORIGINATE?

A brief begins in different ways and different times, according to the nature of the client, field of design and the communication need.

A brief can be informal notes written by a designer during a conversation with a client or a formal document delivered to manufacturers and designers.

A brief may begin with dot points then undergo a process of re-writing as aspects of a design problem and constraints and expectations are clarified through communication with a client. A formal brief, called a return brief is often written by a designer following these discussions.

A brief becomes part of a designer's contract and is used for evaluation of the designer's work.

Jump to

Each of the subheadings in a Brief are explained in separate pages on this site. Students should refer to each of these pages when writing a brief.
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Audience

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Clients

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Purposes

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Contexts

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Constraints & Expectations

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Presentation formats

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Sample brief

Students need to write their own brief for the SAT in VCD. Below is a sample brief that identifies two communication needs. The final presentations made by the student are shown here also.

TWO FINAL PRESENTATIONS

A Year 12 student has written a brief for a Dutch DJ who wants to make a new music festival. The communication needs are a branding package and festival poster, tickets and merchandise.
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Presentation 1: Branding and festival merchandise, Tiea Sacco, 2019.
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Presentation 2: Promotional poster and festival pack, Tiea Sacco, 2019.

BRIEF

CLIENT

Nick Bakker is a well-known Dutch DJ, record producer and songwriter who has produced and released over 5 albums, all either winning an award or receiving a nomination. Now, in 2019, he has come up with the idea of creating a new Electronic Dance Music (EDM) festival, that will run for two days, which will showcase a range of EDM producers who will travel to perform at the Hisense Arena located in Melbourne, Australia. Naming his festival, Triangulum after his love for space, stars and galaxies, he will be inviting some of the most famous EDM producers who have inspired him throughout his musical career to do what he loves most; perform for the people. Not only will there be artists everyone knows, Bakker will also be inviting some up and coming artists who need some exposure to the music world. Through this festival he wishes to help those in need of guidance, concerning their music pathway, and wants to bring people together through the power of music.

Target audience

The target audience consists of males and females, aged 18 an over. They live in various locations within Australia and are willing to travel from their home states to Melbourne for the event. The festival will also be aimed at those who live in Melbourne. As it is aimed at those who are 18 and over, they have a middle to high socioeconomic status, so they will have some disposable income to allow them to purchase tickets to music festivals. The target audience will either be studying in university or may already be working. As the festival does incorporate artists whom all produce music for the Electronic Dance genre, the target audience is expected to hold an interest in the EDM culture as well as an interest in getting involved in social gatherings. The target audience is expected to enjoy going out of their way to go to music festivals and performance while displaying high levels of energy and their love of music and a lively environment and atmosphere.

PRESENTATION 1: BRANDING AND FESTIVAL MERCHANDISE

COMMUNICATION NEED 1

The client requires the design of the brand identity for the Triangulum festival. The client also requires that the design be applied to a range of merchandise to build the brand awareness of the festival.

PURPOSE

To advertise and identify Nick Bakker’s Triangulum music festival through the logo created during the design of the brand identity, allowing for differentiation from other music festivals.

Context

The Triangulum logo will be applied to a range of merchandise material, such as t-shirts and hoodies, which will be sold during the festival at merchandise stands all around the venue. The logo will also be featured on the promotional poster, website and tickets.

CONSTRAINTS AND EXPECTATIONS

The branding must symbolise the festivals style of music in a creative way. The logo must incorporate some inspiration from galaxies and stars, whether it be with the use of colours, shapes or symbols. As it takes inspiration from all things space, appropriate colours should be used, such as purples, blues, pastel colours and greens. Colours that represent nature, the galaxy and all things that have any relation to space such as the sun, the stars and the planets. The client has also requested that the logo is able to work in a variety of different scales allowing for it to be applied to a range of different contexts.

PRESENTATION FORMAT

The possible final presentation format is a visual identity board which includes the final logo as well as the logo applied to a range of carries such as merchandise material.

PRESENTATION 2: PROMOTIONAL POSTER AND FESTIVAL PACK

COMMUNICATION NEED 2

The client requires the design of promotional posters and festival pack that will be used to inform the patrons of the artists playing and provide them with a guide for the festival.

PURPOSE

To advertise and promote the Triangulum festival to the target audience and expose it to the public, encouraging them to buy tickets to come to the festival. The festival pack will then guide and inform those attending the festival.

Context

The promotional poster will be printed and posted around the entire city of Melbourne along the sides of buildings. Digitally, the poster will up on their website for their target audience to see. The tickets will be printed and mailed out to those who purchase them as well as a lanyard and plastic card for those in VIP areas.

CONSTRAINTS AND EXPECTATIONS

The client has requested for the logo to be present on both the promotional poster and all items in the festival pack. With regard to the poster, the client has once again requested for the use of space themed colours to be present as well as the name of the festival, names of some of the acts performing and information regarding dates, times and location. For the tickets, the client has requested a simple ticket that includes the logo, all of the necessary information regarding the event and the ticket barcode. Including the same colours, logos and graphics throughout the whole pack will link the whole design and festival together into one. The festival pack will include – tickets, lanyards with both the passes and the names of artists performing, and wristbands. As festivals tend to have a VIP area, there will be a separate colour or shape of ticket associated with this area, creating and easily identifiable VIP member. On the tickets there will need to be the name of the festival, date and time of entry as well as the standard barcode for entry to the event. This pack will be sent to the attendees before the event takes place, which allows for more time to look at each item in the back. The items of this pack will be placed in an envelope that is mailed to the attendees.

PRESENTATION FORMAT

The possible final presentation format includes a presentation board presenting the finalised promotional poster and festival pack items. A physical mock-up of the pack and items included may also be produced.
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Understanding the brief

This section will unpack the idea of a client making a written request to a designer for a design.

A request

A brief is a request that asks a designer to design something. Let’s explore what a request is, how one should be recorded and what a request can be used for?

task

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1.1 discussion

Discuss or brainstorm answers to the following prompts;

  • What is a request?
  • How could someone request a designer to design something?
  • How would it be best to record the request?
  • Why would a request be best if it was written down?
  • How can a written request be used to evaluate a task done?

1.2 What is a contract?

Discuss or brainstorm answers to the following prompts;

  • How could a brief be regarded as a contract?
  • How could a brief be used as a contract?
  • How could a brief be used by your teacher to assess you work?
  • Are there any other subjects at school that require students to describe what they intend to write or do before they begin?
  • Why do teachers ask students to describe what they are about to do before they start?
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Unpacking client

This following tasks will help students identify and describe a client and the nature of their business.

Jump to

For further information on Clients click the link at right.

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Clients

The Client

A client is a person or institution (represented by a person) who is requesting something to be designed. Students should identify and describe the client as part of a brief. As designers work commercially, their clients are usually business operators. There are several useful ways to describe a client for a brief. These include;

  • the kind of business,
  • the location and scope
  • and their mission.

These tasks will help students to investigate and find answers to these three dimensions of a client.

Kinds of business

The nature of a business, the sector it operates in will influence designs that are made for it. Students need to learn how to describe the sector businesses operate in and the services they provide.

task

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1.1 kinds of businesses

Name the category of business for each of the following companies. Identify the sector and describe what each business provides to the public. (Note: I have shown large businesses for familiarity but teachers could identify some smaller ones to enrich this task).

  • MacDonald’s
  • World Vision
  • Toyota
  • Priceline
  • Origin
  • Boeing
  • Salvation Army
  • Coles
  • Tesla
  • Channel 9
  • Facebook
  • JellisCraig
  • Flightcentre
  • Mac
  • Sony
  • Breville
  • Bunnings
  • Melbourne University
  • Country Road
  • Netflix
  • Ikea
  • Officeworks

Scope and reach of business

Next, we describe the scope of and reach of the business that is acting as our client. Categories of scope of businesses are;

  • Multi-national, catering to a global market
  • Large, catering to the mass market
  • Small or medium business, catering to a national or local market
  • Boutique- catering to a small or niche market
  • An individual- a personal client requesting a one-off design
  • Old- an established business
  • Young or new- a new initiative or 'start-up'

(Bear in mind that I again selected very well-known companies for that students will recognise. Their scope is most likely multi-national or large. For the other categories, try to identify other businesses students may know).

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2.2 describe scope of businesses

Find one business that operates as each of the categories listed above.

Business mission and values

Finally, let’s examine the business’s aims or mission. Not all businesses exist to make money. There are ‘non-government-organisations’ (NGOs) like the United Nations, Red Cross, UNESCO, charities like St Vincent’s, Salvation Army, Anglicare and other welfare organisations like Headspace, Lifeline and RUOK.org.au. These organisations all request new designs. Some examples of business missions are;

  • to provide sustainable and recyclable packaging
  • to provide worldwide and free access to news stories
  • to ensure that more of the world's peoples are fed and nourished
  • to celebrate cultural diversity and unite people through free events
  • to increase safety in the work environment

task

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2.3 Describe mission and values

Seek out and identify a business that has social or environmental improvement/ protection as part of its goals. Describe their mission and the work they do to achieve it.

2.4 Putting it together

Describe one of the following businesses using the three dimensions listed above. Choose one from;

Harmony Week
https://www.harmony.gov.au/

Ford
https://www.ford.com.au/

HoMie
https://homie.com.au/

Memo Bottle
https://www.memobottle.com.au/

Beyond Meat
https://www.beyondmeat.com/

SpaceX
https://www.spacex.com/

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Communication need as problem

What exactly is a communication need? What is a design problem and how are they framed? Let's work on writing problems that lead to the most creative ideas.

My problem

A brief will identify a communication need. This will describe a design problem. In this case the problem is the fact that a design solution is missing right now. Students might find this a bit long winded, like if a client wants a chair, why can’t they ask for a chair? Well, ok but in order for a designer to have the limitless freedom to truly innovate, the brief will not describe the communication need as a solution but as a problem. It describes the job the intended product is needed for.

Innovation, Invention and Design

Students operate at different conceptual levels in determining a communication need. A brief may request innovation. Innovation refers to an enhancement or improvement on an existing object or visual communication. Designing a new logo for a company calls for innovation. This is seeing something in a new way. Many students will innovate in the course of their studies. By contrast, invention refers to someone creating a new visual or physical device for the first time. I wonder what the first ever logo that didn’t use words was? Oh, of course flags and coats of arms! An invention is an iPod. Before iPods there were portable music players that used cassette tapes and later CDs but the iPod was the first music player to hold non-physical electronic media. It was an invention. To Design is to document or draw plans for an innovation or invention. Designers use visual language to describe and depict innovations and inventions. Students may innovate or invent. A brief may call for innovation or invention. Both are ok.

How to frame a design problem

The idea with framing a design problem (and a communication need) is to describe what is desired without mentioning a solution. A chair as a communication need is; a device to support a person, legs bent in a relaxed and upright fashion. The following tasks ask students to frame design problems that may have led to the innovation or invention of a range of products.

task

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3.1 Design problems/ communication needs

Here are a range of visual communications. Choose one and write up a communication need that could have been used to frame the need as a design problem before it was made. Remember, you can’t mention the solution in your answer.

  • iPod
  • Uber
  • Eye chart
  • Hair dryer
  • Bike
  • Printer
  • Computer
  • Your teacher
  • Velcro
  • Moveable type
  • Google

3.2 Consider kinds of problems group 'Post it' task

As a class think about what kinds of problems you would like to solve at school or in the world. These can be social, economic, environmental or simply the need for a new kind of product. Describe one or problems or needs on separate Post its. Share them on a table. Read them and as similarities arise, group them together in categories. You can use the groups above or more as you need. Using reflective thinking consider and write down what is the most valid design problem for you? Why are you attracted to that need? Do you think a solution would take an innovation or an invention to solve?
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Further components of a brief

Now that we understand and can describe a client and a design problem it's time to move onto elaborating on the rest of the brief.

Jump to

For further information on Audiences, Purposes, Contexts, Constraints & Expectations and Presentation Formats click the links at right.

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Audience

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Purposes

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Contexts

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Constraints & Expectations

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Presentation formats

Audience, purpose, context, constraints & expectations and presentation format

In this section of our tasks on the brief we are going to respond to a range of communication needs by identifying and describing all of the other components required for a brief.

If students need to check up on any of the terms and learning for audience, purpose, context, constraints & expectations or presentation formats press any of the links above to review them.

When students are ready they should study the table below then complete the task beneath.

Addressing all components of a brief

communication need

audience

purpose

context

constraints & expectations

presentation format

A visual mark to identify an independent record label based in inner hipster area of town.
Describe specific target audience referring to two audience characteristics.
Describe the purpose.
Identify two contexts where it could be seen.
Identify two functional constraints and one aesthetic expecation.
Identify two possible presentation formats.
An area for kids to ride and do tricks on skateboards at night.
Describe specific target audience referring to two audience characteristics.
Describe the purpose of the design and of the presentation format.
Identify the context for the design and for the presentation format.
Identify two functional constraints and one aesthetic expecation.
Identify two possible presentation formats.
A visual communication that tells people about the social evils of discrimination.
Describe specific target audience referring to two audience characteristics.
Describe the purpose.
Identify two contexts where it could be seen.
Identify two functional constraints and one aesthetic expecation.
Identify two possible presentation formats.
A transportation system for regional areas for families that uses 100% renewable energy.
Describe specific target audience referring to two audience characteristics.
Describe the purpose of the design and of the presentation format.
Identify the context for the design and for the presentation format.
Identify two functional constraints and one aesthetic expecation.
Identify two possible presentation formats.

task

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4.1 Identify and describe components

Get in to groups of fives (or do this individually). Discuss one (or all) of the communication needs in the left column of the table above.

Then identify and describe each of the components as shown in the headings to the columns. Note: purpose and context for communication needs in environmental and industrial design are slightly more complex.

Write up your results and share your ideas.

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Writing a brief

It's time to begin drafting and writing a brief. For students doing the SAT in Year 12 VCD this is the beginning of their last major task.

the brief

Now that we have learnt how to identify, describe and/ or explain all of the necessary components of the brief, it's time for students to draft one for themselves.

Note: students must have have chosen their client and communication needs to proceed with writing their Brief.

If they need to check on how the brief is set out, click on the link above to return to the learning for the Brief. Students follow the tasks below to complete and submit their brief.

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A well crafted brief for the SAT, Amy Nguyen, 2018.

task

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5.1 set up your brief document

Create a new file. Copy in the subheadings in accordance with the sample brief in the learning page on the Brief. Ensure it is complete. Save and close file.

5.2 DRAFT BRIEF

Prepare a draft of your complete brief. Submit for feedback.

5.3 WRITE BRIEF

Review your work and write your brief cohesively.

Add space for teacher and student sign-off and date.

Format in Illustrator if desired.

5.4 SIGN OFF BRIEF

Submit brief for signing off.
Design Thinking routines for these tasks are shown in the Creative, Critical and Reflective Design Thinking pages. Links to these pages is in Design Thinking at the bottom of this page.

Design thinking

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Creative, CRITICAL AND REFLECTIVE

Creative, Critical and Reflective Thinking strategies are used to;

  • Identify and describe a client and analyse the scope, breadth of and the nature of their business.
  • Clarify a design problem by identifying and describing one (or two) communication needs
  • Elaborate on the communication needs by identifying and describing
    • the target audience
    • the purpose
    • the context
    • relevant constraints that apply and content that is required for the communication need. Expectations for how the solution to the communication need should be formed
    • The proposed presentation format for submission
Click the image links at right to visit Creative, Critical and Reflective Design Thinking pages for tasks relating to this page.
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Creative Thinking

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Critical Thinking

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Reflective Thinking