Blue Feathers, we know a fair bit about briefing – from both sides of the fence. We spend time engaging with the brand strategy and proposition development briefs we get from our clients, and we also produce our own briefs when we commission services from external partners, such as research and design agencies.
In this short article, we’ll be looking at what makes a good brief, and sharing some tips to help you get the most out of the briefing process.
Why is a good brief important?
To start with, let’s look at why briefing is such an important factor in the success of a project.
First, devoting focus and energy to create a strong brief up front pays dividends in the form of an end result that’s far more likely to be in line with your objectives. Good briefs also support efficiency. It’s so much better if everyone has a clear understanding of the goals, scope and parameters at the start of the project, rather than discovering these along the way and having to backtrack.
A clear brief is more likely to result in more accurate costing estimates, avoiding nasty surprises for client or agency as the project progresses!
So how can you set your project up for success and give your agency the best chance of doing their best work for you?
Top tips for good briefs:
- As with so much in life, good briefs are all about balance. They shouldn’t be so long that the reader is drowning in detail (the clue is in the name!). However, they should include enough key information so that your agency can quickly understand what needs to be done and why.
- While the brief should be focused on the specific project, some background and context is always helpful. In particular, short summaries of any research findings and snippets of customer insight can be ‘golden nuggets’ that spark your agency’s creative thinking.
- Be as explicit as you can be about your targets and the expected outcomes of the project – if you have £ or % objectives, let’s hear them!
- Be clear about what you think you need, what the parameters are, and what’s in and out of scope, but try to leave room for your agency to interpret, explore and add value – a good rule of thumb is to focus on what, rather than
- Before engaging with your agency, spend time ensuring your internal stakeholders are aligned behind the brief, to minimise the risk of fundamental disagreements causing delay further down the line.
- Try and carve out some time to make yourself available to discuss the brief with your agency. The written document is vital, but at Blue Feathers we find that a brief really comes to life when there’s the opportunity to talk it through. This is often where vital nuances emerge and the seeds of the project’s success are sown.
- And finally, remember that the brief is a chance to excite your agency and get them fired up to do their best work – don’t waste it! Try to convey your own engagement and enthusiasm through your brief, and it will rub off on the agency team.
A great brief is the foundation of a great project. The upfront effort you put into to it really is time well spent. Balancing brevity with insightful detail, and clarity with room for exploration, will help you get the most out of your agency and get your project off to a strong start.
Author: Guy Chapman
Guy has a strong background in education, having worked for the British Council and Cambridge University Press and Assessment. Prior to this, Guy worked at an advertising agency where his clients included MasterCard, Canon and Matalan. MBA-qualified, Guy has strong facilitation and communication skills. He is adept at distilling a wide range of data and information into the essential insights that lead to effective strategy.