How to write the perfect brief
Following the article we wrote for The Drum, our Strategy Director distills the 12 points it takes to write a cracking client brief or creative brief for your marketing agency or team.
First of all, don’t make it too long. But don’t be obsessed with making it too short either. Include the information you need to include. Each client and project is unique and will likely require a different amount of information than the previous brief. Ignore the people who bang on about always wanting a one-page brief, it’s horses for courses.
So what should the brief include? There are always fundamental pieces of information that give us a fantastic basis to get started:
1 – Task
What problem are we trying to solve – what’s the focus?
2 – Deliverables
What actually needs to be delivered? Flesh this out in as much detail as possible in as clear an order or format as possible. Bullet points are good here.
3 – Background
This is a depository for relevant information. It can be communicating what they do in a bit more detail or explaining what has lead up to them writing the brief, such as business decisions supporting the project, context for the project and reasons that have led to this project’s emergence.
4 – Objectives
What do they want to achieve? What must the project do or communicate?
5 – Audience
Who are we talking to? And what do we know about them? Who are the specific audience profiles to be considered?
6 – Channels
What channel will this work live in? Is it known at this stage? This is increasingly part of our role and we rarely approach projects channel first. This usually comes last, once we know what you need to say and to who.
7 – Message
What are we saying? This is perhaps the most important section. Answering it effectively can mean a large research programme, adhering to previous brand work/campaigns or simply making a call after some planning work.
8 – Tone of Voice
How should we talk to your audience? How do we communicate as this brand? If this hasn’t been defined you can’t just leave it blank – it’s crucial – take time to get this bit as right as possible.
9 – Budget
It’s easy to say “how long is a piece of string?” here but ultimately, no-one wins. Any indication of the affordability from client side will help you to scope out the project in the most cost-effective way. Give a ballpark if an exact figure not known – and give an indication if there may be a second phase of investment.
10 – Measurement
How will success be measured? The objective/s should be so closely linked to the idea and he work.
11 – Mandatories
There will always be some things that must be avoided or included in the work. This is such a crucial, directional section. Give direction, failing to mention some client preference here can be critical. It can be as crucial as you have to include X, Y, Z or they don’t like the use of capital letters.
12 – Possible Routes/Ideas
Don’t be afraid to give some starters for ten in terms of what the solution could look like. A secure creative who is confident in their own ability should not be afraid of taking a good idea and running with it. It can also help spark a different idea.
Nothing is final until the work is produced and nothing should be sacrosanct. So let your creative team challenge it if it needs challenging. The flip side is that creatives should trust their planners to be good at their part of the job.
We are huge believers in the value of a brief and delivering against it is always our goal. Our proposition of Beautifully Effective overarches everything we do – and this helps us to achieve success.