How to write the perfect brief

When you have a look at our branding work, the first thing that hits you is the diversity. From sausage skins to car dealerships to carpet tiles to whisky. We cover a lot of ground.

The one thing that has made these projects successful is the bedrock of all rebrands; a solid brief.

Each agency has a slightly different briefing process, although they are all trying to get to the heart of the problem that the client has. They outline the top-level stuff, deadlines, asset requirements, channels for activation, etc. They’re all integral to the brief, but the best briefs have an added little extra. Here are some additional pointers for making those good briefs, great…


1. What’s the problem?

The best briefs tell us about a problem the client has within the business. The brand may not be expressing itself, or sales of a product may need a boost in the market. For us to create the best solution, the more detail that you can give us around what the problem is, gives us the best start.


2. Focus on outcomes

What do you want to see happen? Can you put a number on it? Don’t use the brief to outline the channels you feel we should use, focus on the outcomes of the work, not on the activity. A strategy can get lost if we start to put the activity front and centre.


3. Don’t try to solve the problem

When you’re writing the brief, it's natural that along the way you also start to solve it. Every client we work worth is a creative problem solver. They are a key part of solving the problem outlined in the brief, but the solution shouldn’t lie within it. That’s something that the combined might of the agency and client can bring to bear.


4. Collaborative Input

Feel free to share a rough draft with your agency Account Manager as you’re creating the brief. We don’t expect clients to know all the answers, they can pull from several sources to highlight the problem, but sometimes it’s worth getting another pair of eyes on the brief to help shape it. We’re here to help you write the best brief possible – use us!


5. Tell us the budget

Seriously, tell us. When we hear, “If we tell you the budget, then you’ll spend it” it makes us grimace. Which is a polite way of saying “swear like a trooper”. The best work is built on trust; you tell us how much budget you have and trust us to spend it in the most responsible manner. When we’re responding to a brief, we need to understand the constraints, and budget is one of the biggest constraints we have. It’s also one of the ways that we can be creative. We can be honest and tell you if your ambition is beyond your budgetary reach. Then re-group and re-plan. Being up-front about the budget from the start saves valuable time and money further down the track. No surprise that the paragraph about the budget is the biggest paragraph.


6. When are we talking to customers?

Every brief should talk about who we’re trying to influence. But beyond the “who” we need to know the “where” and the “when”. More than 70% of the average buying process is completed by the buyer alone before they even talk to a salesperson. Understanding the customer journey is vital to know where the best place is to solve the brief’s problem. Again, reach out to your agency to help understand the customer journey.


7. Managing the Hippos

When it comes to stakeholder management, who is signing the work off? Is it the CMO? Is it a HiPPO (Highest Paid Person’s Opinion) in the boardroom? Who should see the work, who gets sign off, how long will that take, what meetings are essential to show progress, do you want the agency there to present the work (nobody better). Lousy stakeholder management and not bringing people along on the journey is a surefire way to turn good work mediocre.


8. Kick it off good

Always insist on having a meeting when the brief goes to the wider team within the agency. Even the best briefs miss the nuance and insight that a conversation around it will provide. Not only will it help give better work but it starts to build the world-beating team with a strong client and trusted agency.


There’s more I could’ve added here, but this is our starter. We always refer to a strong brief throughout the process; it’s our North Star for the project, reminding us along the way of what we set out to achieve in the beginning.

One other quick thing; every brief should tie into the marketing plan. We've got some tips for creating a great marketing plan that you may find useful.