Working to a brief

The dictionary states that a brief is a set of instructions given to inform and or instruct someone thoroughly in preparation for a task. In this essay I will be exploring the various types of brief, such as contractual, formal, informal and tender briefs.

Contractual Brief

A contractual brief is a type of contract where a company  – typically a media company – is hired by a client to complete a certain type of project, the brief will be given in order to give specific guidelines to the company in which they must follow. Due to the brief being contractual it means that the company is legally obligated to fulfil the brief strictly otherwise if they don’t, they could face legal action from the client as it would be a breach of contract.

One of the biggest advantages to having a a contractual brief for the media company is that they know exactly what they need to do, there would be no second guessing as well as being able to use the brief as a guide in case the company where to get stuck.  For the client a contractual brief essentially ensures that they will get exactly what they want for the product and gives them leverage to act if the product was not fulfilled to their expectations.

The biggest disadvantage for the media company is that they could face legal action if they where not to create the product to the standard in which the client expects. As well as having a contractual brief could take away any creative freedom the media company was hoping to have. 71214879.png

Formal Brief

A formal brief is a document given by a client to a production company that details and outlines the specific requirements they want to be produced, unlike a contractual brief the formal brief is usually agreed to by both parties beforehand. The formal brief doesn’t include any legal cover so the production company is not liable to any legal issues whilst producing the required product, although it can be risker for the client is the production company doesn’t conform to the brief as they would have no legal bounds to fight it.

Some of the advantages to having a formal brief is easier to read and understand due to the fact that it doesn’t include all the legal jargon, therefore there won’t be any miscommunication among both parties. Another advantage is that both parties have to agree to the brief so there would be no arguments over creative control and both parties will get what they want.

A disadvantage for the client is that because the brief doesn’t cover legal issues they would not be able to take legal action if the production company went against their wishes. Another disadvantage being that once the contract has been signed, neither parties can alter it.


Informal Brief

An informal brief is like a brief but it is not documented and is stated verbal, the client will usually just tell the production company what they want and the two parties will discuss the requirements for the project, when both parties come to an agreement then the production company can get to work on the product.

The advantage of having an informal brief is that not only is there no legal action to worry about but the production company can create a line of communication with the company throughout, asking questions and other such things is they where to get stuck, in doing so would create a more friendly and relaxed environment for both parties which could result in better work from the two.

The fact that there is no documentation on the brief, there is no way to prove the agreement and could result in the client failing to pay its employees or simply forgetting. Having it verbal could also result in a lack of deadlines or the employees simply forgetting the deadline.

Tender Brief

A tender brief is where a client will advertise their brief (almost like a job vacancy) and if the production company feels that they are up to the task they will then bring together a proposal which they will pitch the idea to client. There could be multiple pitches from multiple different companies so that the client ensures they are getting the right company for the job. When the client finds the right company for the job they will then hire them.

The advantage for the client is that they are able to see many different ideas from different companies so they have a varied selection to choose from. The disadvantage to this is that production company could go through a lot of work creating the


Co-operative Brief

This type of brief usually means that there are two or more companies that would be hired by the client in order to complete a specific project. once both companies have received the brief they can both begin to work on it.

The advantage to have a co-operative brief is that having more than one company working on the project can result in quicker completion for the client, the two companies could also be there to help one another if they where to get stuck.

Te disadvantage is that having more than one company can result in some disagreements or conflicts between the two companies which can result in affecting the quality of the final product.


Commission Brief 

A commission brief is where a large client will employ an independent company to create a certain product. Once the product has been made the company may then go on to use the product for an external client who will then pay the media company for making the product, in which they could also receive royalties.

The advantage to this is that the larger media company will essentially have less hard work as they are sub contracting the work and they will still get paid for doing so. Much like a co-operative brief there would be two companies working on the same product which could in turn also result in some disagreements and conflicts.


Negotiation brief

A negotiated brief is where the client and the employer will come to some kind of specified agreement for the brief regarding the project, this could include the final ideas of the employer and the client. Because it is negotiated it must mean that both parties agree to the on the brief as it could lead to problems further down the road.

The advantage is that both parties are likely to agree with one another due to it being negotiated, so both parties will be happy with the finished brief, which could negate any legal issues further down the road.

Due to it being a negotiation, one party may have to compromise a certain aspect of the project in order to appease the other party.

Competition brief

A competition brief is where a client will put out their brief so it can be accessed by various different companies, participating companies will then complete the brief and the client will then judge which company has the best project and as a reward will get it published.

The advantage for the client is that they would only have to pay one production company as well as them having many different products to choose from.  The companies that are working towards the brief could become disheartened if there product is not chosen, which could result in poor morale for the company.




Business Directory. (2016). Brief Definition. Available: Last accessed 17/04/16.

Thorpe.A. (2013). Contractual Brief. Available: Last accessed 17/04/16.

Gregory. C. (2016). Formal Brief. Available: Last accessed 17/04/16.

Thorpe.A. (2013). Informal Brief. Available: Last accessed 17/04/16.

Thorpe.A. (2013). Tender Brief. Available: Last accessed 17/04/16.

Thorpe.A. (2013). Co-operative Brief. Available: Last accessed 21/04/16.

Thorpe.A. (2013). Commission Brief. Available: Last accessed 21/04/16.

SlideShare. (2013). Negotiated Brief . Available: . Last accessed 21/04/16.

Thorpe.A. (2013). Competition Brief . Available: Last accessed 21/04/16.


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