Exercise: Working to a brief

These are extracts from briefs set as part of a student competition. Your task is to read and analyse them. Ask yourself:

  • • What are you being asked to do?
  • • How will the client will judge a successful outcome to the brief?
  • • What are the keywords?
  • In addition log any other questions you would want to ask the client.

Brief 1

Create packaging for Quaker’s new ‘Chilled Creamy Oats’ product for young women looking for a truly delicious healthy snack. The target audience is young women juggling many jobs and priorities everyday. They like to eat well but also love treats and hate feeling hungry. They like the idea of oats for their natural goodness but find the idea of eating them bland and unappealing.

The first thing to do is to check if I have all the information in the brief. Since I am totally new to design I go find a site which will help me. This site is based on the availability of Illustrator. The site gives me a few Plug-ins for package design.

What am I being asked to produce?

  • I am being asked to create a package for a health food bar that is chilled.
  • I have no idea of the package size? When I have established this I would proceed.
  • I need to analyse the product. I looked up Pinterest to see what designs were already there using”Design for packaging for health bar” as search terms. There are 16,100.000 images. An original design would appear to be nigh on impossible. I decided to look at some of these to see how “health” is portrayed.

screen-shot-2016-09-24-at-13-46-14 screen-shot-2016-09-24-at-13-47-53


I don’t find either of these particularly attractive so I go to my log book and brainstorm some ideas.


I am being asked to create:

a packaging that

  • looks healthy. So packaging is in a ‘healthy’ colour of natural paper! Has some health symbols on it like a healthy young woman or oat sheaf.
  • Looks like the content is full of natural goodness. So oat sheaf or something might feature on the wrapper.
  • appeals to young women. So must be fresh and light looking
  • looks like a treat without being fattening. No hint of added sugar showing!
  • can be eaten on the run for busy people. So packaging must be easy to remove and not be multilayered.

How will the client judge a successful outcome to the brief?

  • He/she finds the proposal immediately attractive.
  • It fulfils the brief as described above
  • Comes in on budget
  • timely response to the brief
  • happy with the contact and being informed during the process
  • mock-up or prototype is well presented.

Keywords for this brief are:

  • natural
  • healthy
  • young women
  • busy
  • treat
  • oats
  • chilled

Brief 2

Most of us have experienced a long rail journey – we witness the dramatic contrasts of the changing landscape, the inter-connections at various points along the way; various people embark and disembark; the dynamic is ever- changing… finally we reach our destination. This brief challenges you to take a metaphorical journey on the theme of connections. Explore the theme as broadly as possible and take us on a journey that might link, amongst other things – people, events, philosophies, theories, objects, movements, inventions, history, literature, etc. Your journey is only limited by your own imagination and the quality of your research – surprise us with the juxtaposition of your selected themes but be sure to communicate to the viewer the ‘connectedness’ of the thinking within your design. Define your market, and how you will target it.

What am I being asked to do?

I am being asked to take a metaphorical journey on the theme of connections. A metaphorical journey is not a real journey but one that is used to represent something else. This journey will be on the theme of connections. So I am free to decide what my product is. The ‘journey’ must link some or all of the following themespeople, events, philosophies, theories, objects, movements, inventions, history, literature, etc

Trying to come up with the core theme I looked at the following ideas

  • internet: people are linked, chainlike worldwide by a connection passing through wires or the air. Data of every possible type and subject is shared in a chainlike fashion. Events are publicised and shared with open or closed groups. Wide ranging subjects are discussed online. There are myriads of examples designs to represent the internet. Maps and globes are the most common surface onto which are placed the chainlike links. These can be simple straight lines, linked paths or lots of other ways.
  • conference, meetings or seminars: I loved this poster for the 2016 design connections seminar.screen-shot-2016-09-24-at-10-04-37all possible subjects and topics are shared and chain linked at such meetings
  • another interesting idea I came across was a travelling exhibition of Irish design artists. The locations are marked simply on a world map. People would meet and interact with the designs.screen-shot-2016-09-24-at-09-30-01

My own idea was to express the journey undertaken in Distance Learning:

All of the people represented on the OCA map started by looking for a creative art course.


How would I design the metaphorical journey that I am on. The journey starts with me researching courses on the web. It continues with my first contact with OCA officialdom. It proceeds when money is transferred from my online bank in Ireland to the OCA account. I am first linked with a tutor who lived somewhere in the UK. Other tutors follow as the train moves from station. My contact web starts to build as I develop a virtual community of people, worldwide, all studying on the OCA train. From time to time physical contacts may be made with fellow students and tutors. The web is growing and covering so many topics. We are all on the train moving and interacting but ultimately making our way towards that final destination which is a BA(Hons)….

How will the client will judge a successful outcome to the brief?

If OCA were the client a successful outcome for them would be if I had created an original and interesting poster which would attract more distance learning students. The poster would have to demonstrate that studying with OCA is exciting and educational leading to a successful outcome.


  • interconnections: people, events, philosophies, theories, objects, movements, inventions, history, literature, etc
  • dramatic contrasts
  •  journey
  • market definition
  • market target

Brief 3

To raise awareness of the risks of underage drinking and contribute towards a cultural change in society’s attitude towards alcohol. The purpose of the Department for Children, Schools and Families is to make this the best place in the world for children and young people to grow up… to make children and young people happy and healthy and help them stay on track. With a core proposition of ‘Alcohol leaves you (or your children) vulnerable’, the campaign will urge parents to talk to their children before they consider drinking, to help avoid vulnerable situations. The messages to young people will get them to think about the effects of drinking. Creative ideas should use the campaign identity ‘Why let drink decide?’ to extend the campaign’s reach and specifically target young people aged between 13 and 16. We are open to ideas about the media or format you think is most appropriate to reach the target audience.

What am I being asked to produce?

I am being asked to create material to raise awareness of the damage caused by teenage drinking.

I think the first thing would be to decide which medium would be used. The following media are possible:

  • cinema
  • TV & radio
  • magazines
  • billboards
  • online
    • facebook
    • twitter
    • YouTube

If a video was the preferred medium it could be used across several platforms e.g. cinema, TV and online. A billboard campaign could also be used in a scaled down version in magazines  or as advertisements in TV or cinema. Radio needs a special voice based campaign.

I like the idea of Billboards to target this audience but I feel it would need to be backed up with online material. The billboard would carry the campaign identity ‘Why let drink decide?’ The following keywords or concepts would need to be included:

  • best place to grow up
  • risks
  • underage drinking
  • cultural change
  • vunerability
  • healthy alternative
  • effects of drinking
  • parents talking to children about all of the above

This page has many interesting posters to raise awareness of underage drinking.

How will the client judge a successful outcome to the brief?

The main thing for the client here would be if my design hit the target group. If it informed them about the dangers of underage drinking in such a way as to prevent them going down the road to over drinking. If it encouraged parents to have that conversation with their teenagers about the dangers of drinking excessive alcohol.

Having analysed the briefs which one do you think you would most like to tackle? Is it the one with the most restrictions or the one that is most open to interpretation? What do you think your chosen brief would offer you? In what way do you think it would stretch your skills and abilities? Make notes in your learning log.

I think I would choose Brief 2 if the client was sufficiently interesting. I find the idea of this metaphorical journey really interesting and feel it would fit my scientific and photographic background best.

I would love the challenge of producing a video for Brief 3 but feel completely under qualified to carry out such a job.


Project: Working to a brief 

.. I think this is an excellent overview of your insight into the three briefs. It’s a real breakdown of your own ideas and approaches to how you might start to understand, engage with and sculpt the brief based on initial collations of information. You outline clearly the missing elements of information and I have no doubt you’d tackle any of these briefs with pragmatism. 

I am happy enough with this result.