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3 tips for writing fantastic briefs


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Advice for getting it right when briefing your creative team or agency.

Save time, save money and get the results you want by taking the time to produce a thorough brief.

Published in: Marketing
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3 tips for writing fantastic briefs

  1. 1. 3 tips for writing fantastic briefs
  2. 2. How are your briefing skills? If I were to interview your creative teams, what would they say about your briefing skills? Are you undaunted by this question…or do you have a nagging suspicion that their answers may not be to your liking?
  3. 3. Tell tale signs you’ve provided a poor brief  You’re shocked and dismayed by the first draft you receive, because you don’t like it at all  You don’t like the results or the amends, but you don’t know why  You need to go back to your creative team with endless rounds of expensive, time-consuming amends time after time after time
  4. 4. Bad briefers are everywhere If you are a bad briefer, then you’re certainly not alone. There are a lot of them out there - and bad briefs hurt everyone.
  6. 6. Writing excellent creative briefs will… Make the whole process more fun Save you a lot of time Save you a lot of money
  8. 8. Tip #1: Start with a fully formed idea This is the step most people leave out. If you haven’t fully imagined your idea, it’s difficult for your designer or creative agency to understand what you have in mind…and you almost certainly do have something in mind, even if you haven’t articulated it clearly. This is likely to result in loads of amends as a way of getting closer to what you want.
  9. 9. Avoid this by “frontloading” your brief  Include details of what you like or find inspiring with images or links to examples, along with an explanation of why you like them  Include a functional element (what form the piece will take) and details of the look and feel such as the colour palette or tone of voice  If you come up with several ideas you’d like to combine, that’s great – explain it in your brief  Have a go at drawing your idea on a bit of paper. It doesn’t matter if you can’t draw – the very act of imagining what you need will help your creative team get a clear idea of what you mean
  10. 10. Tip #2: Put yourself in the shoes of the people reading your brief Once you’ve finished writing your brief, set it aside for a while – 12 to 24 hours, preferably – then come back to it and pretend you’re the account manager who will be reading it. Have you omitted anything that only you know needs to be taken into account? For example, one the senior stakeholders hates orange or loathes a particular font, or the fact that all artwork should be based on photographs.
  11. 11. Tip #3: Supply all the details That’s the who, what, why, where, when and how. Yes, it’s the least interesting part of the brief, but it is crucial. There are even hundreds of checklist / briefing form templates out there help you work through these questions.
  12. 12. At the very least, your creative team needs to know…  Who your main stakeholders and audience are  Who will need to sign off the final design  What outcome you are hoping to achieve, and by when  What action your audience should be motivated to take and why  Why the content is being produced  Where the content will be seen  When the final piece needs to be delivered and whether your outputs impact on – or are impacted by - anything else that’s going on  How you require the end results to be delivered i.e. what format and through what channel
  13. 13. And finally… If you’re a messenger delivering this brief on behalf of a large internal group, or an elusive leader who never has time to talk to you, the same rules still apply. It’s no use passing down a vague Chinese whisper of what’s required to the delivery team. If you’re stuck in the “messenger” role, you’ll have to do all of the above and then give your brief back to the large group / elusive leader and insist they review it and sign it off before you pass it on.
  14. 14. Will they make changes to it? Probably. And finally…
  15. 15. Will you get tangled up in their ideas and thoughts and have to navigate how these can realistically be incorporated into the overall idea? Quite likely. And finally…
  16. 16. Will it take much longer than you realised? Indeed it will. And finally…
  17. 17. You’ll get through it, and when you do, you will emerge with a signed off collective vision that’s ready to be finessed by your lovely and grateful creative team. And – because you’ve done all the hard work of frontloading the brief and engaging all the stakeholders early on, the actual creative bit should be a lot quicker and relatively painless. But you’ll be OK…
  18. 18. Put it to the test… Don’t just take my word for it…