Brief Encounters

Ever heard the expression that what you get out of life is only as good as what you put in? OK, so there are exceptions (no, we’re not at all jealous of those Euromillions winners from Haverhill…) but in general we find it’s pretty true. And never more so than when briefing a new project.

As a marketing, PR and events company, we work with clients from all sorts of sectors, and no two jobs are ever the same. For some we are a longstanding partner, while for others we provide an ad hoc service for individual projects. But whether we know a client’s business inside out or are only just getting acquainted, it’s still important to focus on a good brief.

Consider this. You are the client and you want a leaflet to show off a new service or product you are launching in the market. You have a five minute conversation to tell your agency exactly that, and you sit back and wait, having ticked “Brief Marketing Leaflet” off your list. It should come as no surprise when what is sent back is not what you wanted. Too late, too long, too short, too expensive, too wordy, not enough pictures, the wrong pictures, the wrong products, the wrong tone, the wrong logo… the list of what can go wrong is endless. Of course, a good agency would not let that happen because they would ask the right questions up front, but the more you consider what you want, the more likely you are to get it.

Writing a good brief is no easy task, and it isn’t just the client who needs to think about them. The creative brief by an account manager to their team is also imperative, as it is a representation of what the client wants. Of course, common sense comes into it – not every projects needs a full scale brief. But every project should have one to at least cover the basics.

Although by no means comprehensive, the following is a quick overview of some of the areas to think about when considering a brief:

–          What do you want? Sounds obvious, but unless you are specific about what you are trying to achieve, it’s unlikely you will be able to do so.

–           Think practically. What is your budget? When do you want the project delivered? What are the critical dates? What are the quantities?

–          What is the key communication? This one will vary depending on what the project is, but everyone needs to be very clear on exactly what the purpose of the campaign is, what the main message should be, as well as other important elements – such as promotional ts and cs, additional elements that must be included and so on.

–          Who is your campaign aimed at? Knowing your target audience is vital to ensure the relevance of your content and the angle of your pitch. The shiniest campaign in the world won’t work if it isn’t speaking to the right people.

–          Use comparisons. OK, you might not know exactly what you want, but perhaps you’ve seen another campaign you liked – or hated for that matter. Don’t be afraid to use examples to help steer your agency or your creative team in the right direction.

–          Set the rules. Does your company have brand guidelines? Logos, copyright, straplines, dos and don’ts on character or product depiction? Tell your agency or creative team everything they need to know up front – often it’s what you’re not allowed to do that proves the most critical.

–          Talk it through. Lots. On the whole, the more time spent getting the brief right in the first place, the less unnecessary costs will be incurred in additional design stages and copy amends. Of course time and budget should be allowed for tweaks, and most agencies will provide multiple options up front, but the later the amends, the more expensive they are likely to be – and you might be able to avoid incurring them altogether.

As with anything else, using your common sense and thinking your project through is usually enough, but it’s very easy to take understanding for granted and assume others know exactly what you mean. Not every project needs a full scale creative brief – but if you’re not quite sure what you’re aiming for, it’s going to be pretty tricky hitting the target.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *