Great work comes from a great brief

Top tips for briefing and a simple template

Coming up with brand and marketing ideas is a process of investigation and distillation, inspiration and refinement. It involves creative leaps to uncover new and fitting solutions and relies on points of leverage - or springboards. A brief is one of those points.

A great brief is directional and inspirational

A brief ensures everyone is on the same page and pointing at the right destination. And it opens the door to the original thinking needed to get us there. That’s what makes a brief worth spending time on. Just not all your time.

While many say a brief is the most critical element, we feel that’s overstating it somewhat. A great brief is a means to a great end. And in our experience, the best briefs are co-written. Formed from discussions around options and outcomes, they become a summary of the best approach – rather than a first and only stab at the answer. In fact, we find time spent scoping the project and defining the problem is the best way to faster, more accurate work.

Think of the brief as a workout for the marketing imagination. The very act of writing helps clarify and simplify the problem at hand, which makes brief writing a helpful exercise in its own right. However, thinking and analysis are more important than the form, so find what works for you.

A great brief is directional and inspirational

1. Keep it simple – it is called a ‘brief’ for a reason. Think of it as a summation of where you want to be and how you’ll get there. Any relevant reports or details can be shared as an addendum. Focus the brief on the problem at hand – the better that’s defined, the better the whole journey will be.

2. Keep it real – use language your audience would use and avoid jargon. Don’t go for rose-tinted descriptions, be honest about the current state of play, what customers think or don’t think and the barriers that need dismantling.

3. Be inspiring – set the challenge, share your passion and personality, paint a picture. This isn’t about giving loads of leeway - in fact, the best creative answers come from problems laden with constraints.

It's all about the response

The key to successful marketing communications is the response. Start by thinking what how you want people to react. Do you need them to change their minds or change their behaviour? To notice, to love, or act?

Here's a simple guide to the type of information creative folk need and a template to give you an idea of what to expect.

This brief helps paint a picture of the task in hand – starting with what we need to achieve, working through who needs to do what, and backing that up with the reasons people will care.

If you want to download the template, it's here:

While it’s true briefs demand a lot of knowledge and thinking, don't be put off – especially if you’re facing a challenge unlike any other. We’ve never met a problem we can’t solve, even when the problem needs to be defined first, and some of the best work comes from briefs that have been shaped and agreed together.

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