Brief Encounter

Is there any such thing as a bad brief? Or is it just a mutual lack of understanding between client and agency? Here are our thoughts… Recently we’ve had a flurry of new briefs into the agency and it’s been interesting to look at the different approaches from the various businesses involved and the varying quality of their briefs. Working with new clients always perks up the team, and it’s made us think a little bit more about what we need to see in a good brief.

So, if you’re a client company, here are our top tips to creating a brief that is more likely to help your agency deliver what you’re asking for…

1. Background Don’t be afraid to overdo the scene setting. Agencies will take the bits they need and skip what they don’t. Better to include too much detail than not enough.

2. Benchmark Outline key competitors / comparators, be they brands, products, or whatever. Clearly outline the USP’s and / or key features of the project so they can be extracted and used as part of the creative strategy.

3. Tone of Voice / Positioning If this project were a supermarket, or a car, or a watch, which would it be? This helps enormously in knowing where to ‘pitch’ the look and feel of the work.

4. Target Audience If you don’t know who you want to target, how can the agency produce work that appeals to them?

5. Format / Design Cues Taking the time to produce examples of work you like (or don’t) can save valuable time and effort for the agency and avoid heading down any blind alleys. However, be careful not to be too prescriptive. Us creative can get very moody about that sort of thing!

In conclusion, there’s no magic formula, although the above points work for us more often than not. There’s a school of thought that suggests a formal brief becomes less important the longer agency and client collaborate, but we disagree. As with any relationship, it’s easy to become complacent, so constantly working together to formalise a brief is a good way of getting the best out of both parties, defining expectations and prolonging the working relationship between agency and client.

So, clients and agencies alike, lets remember what made things so special in the first place, and keep that magic happening…


OpinionPaul Hartley