theory topics

  1. What is a brief? What should it contain?
  2. Sample single presentation design brief
  3. Sample two presentations design brief for Unit 3 + 4 Visual Communication Design SAT

1 What is a brief? What should it contain?


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.


A brief can be a formal checklist (as shown here), dot point, essay style, or in the form of a letter from client to designer. In reality, a design brief may be only notes a designer writes down from a conversation with their client.


The brief will explain; the nature of the client, the product required, the target audience, defines the purpose, identifies the context in which it will be displayed or used, identifies limitations or expectations for the product, describes the approach to the design it should have, and describes the presentation format required.


Below are detailed descriptions of each component of the brief.


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1 Client and nature of their business


The client is the person or organisation requesting the new design. They may be a private individual (like a person asking an architect to design a house), or they may be the owner of a business or even a representative of the owner like a 'marketing manager', in a large business.


The brief should define the name and nature of the business being desiged for. This is the ‘client’. You should discuss the nature of the business by mentioning these aspects. Ask yourself, is the business?...

Try to give as much information about the client as you can as this will help to shape the design they want.


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2 need or job description


The brief gives a brief description of the design need or job. For example a 'folding chair' or 'logo to identify the company' are both design needs. It does not go into detail in a description of the finished job, as the function of the design process is to develop innovative solutions to the need. Just be brief to give the reader a 'handle' on the design need. The need can be referred to as a communication, industrial or environmental need.


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4 Target Audience


One of the most important parts to designing correctly for your client is to understand the target audience. Different people have different purchasing preferences so we need to design exactly for them. One caution; the target audience characteristics are not those of the client (except if the design is personally for him/her) but for the people that will see, read, use your design. These people are called the 'end users'.

You can discuss the target audience by mentionaing up to six audience characteristics:

You can find more detailed information about audience by clicking here.


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5 Purpose


This information will explain what the design or product will be expected to do. Take care also to think about your design. For example if you are designing a poster to sell an electric kettle the purpose should be to 'advertise', not to boil water - that's the purpose of a kettle! However, if you are designing an outdoor reclining chair, then the purpose is to help a user relax beside the pool.


Remember in Visual Communication Design students are not required to develop prototypes of 3-dimensional work. Therefore the purpose of presentations is usually to depict, inform or other similar purpose.


You may mention more than one purpose in your design brief.


You can find detailed information about purpose by clicking here.


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6 Context


The context is the position or media that the product or communication will be used or seen in. Some examples of context are; in a national park, on the wall in a supermarket, in a magazine.


You can find detailed information about context by clicking here.


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7 Limitations, expectations and/or constraints


Another major factor helping to shape the design you do will be the constraints and/ or expectations placed on you. Discuss the known physical restrictions from the beginning of the process. For example; is the design to be for children or adults, is it to be portable or made from recyclable materials?


There may be also some aesthetic expectations the client has. For example; should the design look be minimal, futuristic, austere, like it was handcrafted. However, try not to use words like beautiful, attractive or stylish as these words mean different things to different people and convey no meaning themselves.



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8 Approach to the design (Optional except for SAT in VCD)


You should briefly discuss how you intend to go about beginning the required design process. For example; discuss the areas you want to research to inform your design, the kinds of working methods and/or media you think will be most communicative or represent your ideas best. Give reasons for the approaches you want to use. This will enhance the level of thought you bring to the design process.


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9 Presentation format


You must define the actual presentation you will make for your client. Some examples of presentation format are; 3d rendering, fashion illustration, 3rd Angle Orthogonal drawing, model, mock-up brochure, A1 poster.


You can find detailed information about presentation formats by clicking here.


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2 Sample - single presentation brief




Relaks is a small furniture company located in inner Melbourne. It has a workshop in the CBD and several outlets in major shopping areas of Eastern Australia. Its furniture products are aimed at young, independent working people. Relaks is looking to expand its market into the camping sector. Relaks wants a collapsable table and chairs recalling 1950s retro shapes and materials in bright, pastel colours.


The target audience is young, working adults. Both men and women, living in the city who like to go camping for short trips. They may be from any cultural background as they live in Melbourne city.


The camping chairs are to be used at meal times to provide seating and a table support for up to 4 people.


The context for distribution and display of the new product will be department stores and camping shops. Consequently, a strong use of simple bold design will be needed to ensure that the table and chairs stand apart from the other products on display.


The table’s design should be a bit retro, light and metalic. They could look like it was designed in the 50s and intended to look super futuristic.The table is to be made from recyclable/recycled or regenaratable materials. It is to be constructed simply using existing technologies.


My approach to this design is to look at table from the second half of the twentieth century. I will also look at 1950s design books for ideas.


The presentation format required for the table and chairs is a two-point perspective rendered illustration.


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3 Sample two presentations design brief for Unit 3 + 4 Visual Communication Design SAT


The brief for the SAT must be signed and dated by the student and the teacher within 2 - 4 weeks after the commencement of the project. There must be only one design brief in the final SAT folio. If there is more than one, then the assessor will read the design brief located further into the folio/s.


Some of these samples use sub-headings. Sub-headings are good for planning but should be deleted before finalising the brief.


An excellent sample deisgn brief is found on pp 67, 68 of the Study Design for Visual Communication Design, VCAA, 2013.


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Sample brief #1




Client: The Baw Baw shire council, who are a large country shire located in the south of Victoria. The Federal Government has given the Shire a large grant to start giving their area a modern and new look to keep up with the times. So they are commissioning several public buildings to be redeveloped. With the redevelopment the shire would like the new buildings to be up to the current environmental and sustainability standards.


Presentation 1


Need: to design an eco-friendly public library.
Audience: the library would be utilized by the general public, but should appeal to book lovers, parents with children and students as these would be the primary users of the library. the library will also have a computer room with internet access, therefor people such as students, and people without internet or computer access at home. As it is the only library in the area, the demographic would be people in the area of about 50km.
Context: the Library is situated on one of the main streets in town. It will be situated on a 75m X 75m block of land.
Purpose: the library is to entice the local people, and to exhibit the books inside. Along with this, the building would be demonstrating the forward thinking and state of the art direction the shire is taking.


Presentation format: the client would like the final design presented as full model, along with some CAD/computer generated drawings if possible.


Presentation 2


Need: along with the exterior of the building, the council would like some graphics to be used in the entrance hall.
Audience: the entrance hall would be utilized by the general public, but should appeal to book lovers, parents with children, students and staff as these would be the primary users of the library.
Context: the graphics would be on the walls of the entrance hall to the library
Purpose: the purpose of the graphics would be to entertain, and create an inviting feel in the entrance hall, as well as using some color to brightening up the space and appeal to kids.



Presentation format: the client would like the final design presented as concept sketches in the folio along with some computer generated images.


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Sample brief #2




The client “Resurrection” is an American skateboarding company, which was established in the 1970’s. “Resurrection” is engaged in the design, marketing and distribution of apparel, skate goods such as decks, wheels and bearings, for action sports and street fashion markets, skateboarding films, magazines and many other accessories. They specialize in products that appealed to the skateboard and youth culture markets. The have large distribution and manufacturing centres in California USA and Melbourne Australia and sell their products through well-known stores, globally. 


Presentation one:


The first need is to design the graphics for a series of new skateboards, which will have a post-modern design style.


Each design will appeal to and audience of both females or males who are between the ages of 10-30, as we want to encourage the younger generation to begin the sport and the older generation to continue with their passion. It will also appeal to people who are interested in skateboarding and art. It’s also targeted at those of a medium socio-economic class, as skateboards can be pricy to make and people who are more westernised as the graphics may not be mainstream art.


The purpose of the skateboard designs is to decorate the skateboards with a artistic unique look and brighten up and entertain the audience.


The context for display of the of the skateboard designs is in a wide range of skateboarding stores across the world and outdoors in skate parks.


The expectations of the client is that the skateboard designs must be fresh, original and post-modern. They don’t have to relate to skateboarding directly although they need to capture feelings or ideas skateboarding presents. They may include religious symbols or any other youth culture icons to appeal to the audience and make a connection with the name of the client. However, the designs must be appropriate for younger children, without nudity and swearing. 


My approach to the design will be to look at art works, street art, religious icons and paintings. I will explore images in drawings, paintings and computer methods.


The final presentation will be a series of skateboard designs fixed onto the bases, by a heat transfer.


Presentation two:


The second need is a promotional poster to inform the audience of the skateboarding event “Resurrection” is holding,


The audience will be broader as than for the decks as the poster will be shown in public locations. It should appeal to both genders, between the ages of 10-30. It will also appeal to people who are interested in skateboarding, music and art. It’s also targeted at those of any socio-economic class and people who live in the city of Melbourne.


The purpose of the poster is to promote and advertise the skateboarding event, which the company is holding.


The context of the promotional poster will be in all Melbourne retail skateboarding stores and on bus stops, streets, on lampposts, walls and notice boards.


The client expects that the poster design must be informative and reflect the continuous spirit of skateboarding. It must also communicate the message that “Resurrection” is a contemporary skateboarding brand so it may include a mixture of imagery also found in skate and street culture. It must also be of a medium to large size so information is easily readable. The budget is reasonably high as “Resurrection” wants this poster to be a good quality and attract viewers. Production time is a limitation as the skate event begins in January and “Resurrection” would like the poster no later than November 2012.  


The final presentation of the poster design will be printed on A2 size paper and of a high quality.


Lisa Peric 2012


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Sample brief #3




The client, Garnier, is an Australian hair care company that appeals to both a male and female audience of all ages. They are a major sponsor of the Australian Open which brings visitors to Melbourne from all over the world. People of all ages are drawn to Melbourne’s Central Business District to either watch a tennis match at the Rod Laver Arena, or join on with the festivities in the city. Activities are organised for the youngsters to keep them entertained and involved in the spirit of tennis.


Garnier has asked for two new objects to advertise for the up and coming Australian Open in 2009. The first need is a new shampoo and conditioner bottle design with reference to the Australian Open on the label. The second need is an advertisement that can be used on a bus shelter, the side of a bus or a billboard. This advertisement is to appeal to an audience of all ages and encapsulate the feeling behind tennis.


Presentation One:


This new bottle design for shampoo and conditioner is to be original and somehow related to the Australian Open. The specific shape doesn’t matter as this design is up to the designer, however, it has to be easy for people to be able to differentiate between the bottles easily, especially for those people that have impaired eyesight, and it has to be easy for people of all ages to manoeuvre.


The purpose of this new bottle design is to start a new style range for Garnier and express its promotion for the Australian Open. The context for these new bottles will be in all leading supermarkets in Australia that Garnier is currently sold in. The general audience is for people of all ages who want the best out of their hair care products.


The final presentation of these new bottle designs are three dimensional drawings of bottles that are bright in colour and modern-like that people will want to use. An orthogonal drawing is necessary to display to the client exactly what the bottle will look like.


Presentation Two:


The audience for the advertisement posters is anyone visiting Melbourne’s City and anyone who uses public transport all over Melbourne and is interested in the Australian Open. They are targeted for people of a medium socio economic background. The context for these advertisements will be all over Melbourne on bus shelters, the sides of buses and billboards, therefore they have to stand out in one way or another, preferably with colour, and provide information such as where to purchase the new products and promote the Australian Open.


Garnier expects the advertisement to be informative and reflect the continuous spirit of tennis. The size of these advertisements is not restricted however it has to be able to fit on a bus shelter window. The budget is reasonably high as Garnier wants this advertisement to be perfect and of high quality.

One limitation exists and this is production time. The Australian Open begins in January and Garnier would like to begin advertising no later than the beginning of November 2008.


The final presentation is to be of high quality and easy to be understood by all ages and if necessary, models can be used.


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