A good brief is one of the biggest advantages you can give your agency.

Most people understand the basic principle of a brief, and even so it is severely undervalued across industries – from design to project planning. Clients often view it as a formality, a blip in the long drawn process of hiring an external firm to help with company requirements. On the contrary, a good design brief is crucial for the process of ideation, and saves wasted time, creativity, energy and money.

When a rapport is established with a particular firm, it’s easier to work around the need for a rigid formal brief. You can throw words at them like ‘bold’ and ‘edgy’, and they’ll know where to toe the line, while maintaining brand integrity. But when the bottom line is affected, all information available needs to be shared – an agency can’t deliver their best, without the big picture. Leaving room for interpretation with these words, is where agencies lose the plot on where you stand – and the back and forth with emails get heated. This includes fully being able to understand the challenges being faced by clients. Understanding why previous solutions haven’t panned out is a good way to plot the path forward. More than ever, the stakes for accountability have been raised for all agencies, and if the idea hasn’t been well received, analytics will prove so.

Even though creating a brief can seem a bit daunting, it can be useful even before you hand it over to the agency. Creating a roadmap for your project and explaining your goal makes it easier where and how it might fall apart, and allows you to make changes before you’ve put time into feedback or paid for your work. If the ideas don’t resonate with you, you can be sure that they will not resonate with your audience.

“The brief should be the floor, not the ceiling.”

Working with your agency to figure out what they need from you, is a great way to get the brief right the first time around. When allocating resources for the project, allocate time to go into developing your ideas for review. They should be able to facilitate this process by working on a client brief right off the bat, and insisting on transparency through the process. Consider the follow questions to help you get started:

  • Objectives: what are you/your company trying to achieve?
  • What are the key message(s) you want to get across?
  • Who is your target audience?
  • What do you want your audience to do: what is the primary CTA (Call to Action)?
  • Do you have samples or examples (case studies, past projects, mood boards…)?
  • Does your company have guidelines for design, branding and copy?
  • Clearly list your/your company’s expectations and the specific deliverables
  • What are the key dates (deadlines)?
  • What is the Approval Process
  • Has a budget been defined?

The more information you share, the better your agency can understand your business and craft as impressive marketing communications plan.

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