A buildings architectural expression is a fairly elusive quality that is determined by a myriad of factors such as composition, colour, light, materials and shapes. It is a topic that is sometimes seen as the exclusive territory of architects, but clients will certainly want to have a say on it. This is because architectural design can trigger particular associations. Tall buildings may be associated with power and prestige, while buildings with bright colours may be seen as playful. Straight lines and regularity may evoke an impression of efficiency and neatness. Clients can use the brief to explain what kind of expression they are looking for. This should not be done in terms of design specifications (the building should have a brick faade), but in terms of the effect that the design should have. How should the building feel? What kind of vibe should it have? What kind of associations should it trigger? What message should it convey to the outside world?The answers to these questions will differ per client. A bank may want its offices to communicate reliability and security; a tax office may seek to convey an impression of modesty and efficiency; a tech company may wish for a building that signals innovation and coolness. That may sound simple enough, but a lot of clients have trouble expressing their needs and preferences in a clear way. All too often, design briefs feature clich-filled texts, stating that the building should be aesthetically pleasing or of high architectural quality. To get a better grip on clients ideas about architectural expression, it will be useful to look at a clients corporate identity. Large clients will almost certainly have a formal branding strategy that explains how they want to be perceived by the outside world. Furthermore, it can be useful to have a discussion with the projects decision makers. What kind of buildings do they like or dislike? For what reasons? What kind adjectives do they see as appropriate for the project?It will be the (challenging) task of the brief writer to translate the outcomes of such discussions into a clear text for the brief. The trick is to keep it simple: a few powerful adjectives will be more telling that a long waffly text about architectural quality.Strategic brief-Explain the clients desired corporate or brand identity.-Describe the desired expression of the building in a few well-chosen adjectives.-Do not allow the personal aesthetic preferences of the top decision makers to dominate the brief.-Consider the use of reference images, although such references should not be used in a too literal way (I want something like that).Functional brief-Indicate areas or spaces that need special attention in terms of architectural expression (e.g. entrance) and describe what kind of atmosphere is wanted there.Technical brief-Add design guidelines if the client has strict standards for its brand visuals. Some clients (e.g. in retail) are likely to have very concrete requirements concerning materials, finishes, colours and dimensions.