Rami Abughazaleh, from copywriting agency Yala Creative, explains why a good brief is well worth your time
- Effective marketing is a collaboration, with the client and creative working as one.
- Avoid misunderstandings and poor results with a clear plan of action.
- A thoughtful, detailed brief gets your project off to a good start.
Start off on the right foot
Many clients feel that once they’ve hired a creative team, their work is done.
The main task now falls to the creative director, copywriter and/or designer to bring their website, brochure or print ad to life.
But as any experienced writer or artist will tell you, all the creativity in the world won’t magically transform muddled thinking into gold. A marketing end product is only as good as the brief it’s based on.
While there’s no need for a client to draft headlines or start browsing Shutterstock, it is important to communicate clearly right from the get-go. The best way to do so is through a well-thought-out brief.
The art of getting to know you
Every creative professional has a preferred briefing process, but the aim is always the same: understanding your business or brand, its personality, goals, challenges, and short-term needs.
Following an initial meeting or phone call – but before offering a cost estimate – an agency will usually have carefully considered questions. These questions are based on years of real-life experience working with companies of all stripes.
Take the time to answer them thoughtfully. The more you put into your answers, the more you will get out of the collaboration.
Briefing is an opportunity, make the most of it
It’s important to remember that a brief benefits both parties.
First and foremost, it is a blueprint for what you will build together. When done properly, it’s a creative agreement that helps both sides avoid misunderstandings on everything from deliverables, length, tone of voice and timeline.
But a good brief is much more than that. Agency questions are designed to provoke thinking. Think of it as an opportunity to clarify your focus – in the process of outlining exactly what it is you want, you will see your objectives and challenges more clearly.
While you may feel too busy for this back and forth (we get it, we’re busy too!), good communication now saves you time and headaches later.
Briefing is always time well spent.
The perfect brief: what to include and why
Initial questions from the agency are merely a starting point. No third party knows your business the way you do. Go beyond their queries to outline your needs and expectations in as much detail as you can. Use references from campaigns you admire or competitors you wish to emulate or exceed.
In order to give your brand a voice, the creative team needs to know what makes it unique (USPs), what’s holding it back (weaknesses), who you’re trying to reach (the target audience) and what you want them to do (call to action). These are the things to keep uppermost in mind as you outline the work ahead.
A thoughtful brief will not only give your team more info to work from, but it will also inspire them. The more empowered a creative person feels, the more ideas they will have.
Remember that including detail is not the same as micromanaging the content. Be succinct and to the point about what is needed, leaving room for the agency to explore things from a fresh perspective.
The takeaway: Own the process and reap the rewards
You’re paying good money for professional creative services. Allow time for a thorough briefing and see a better return on your investment.
Ultimately, the brief is part of what you pay for. It helps ensure all goes according to plan.
You can follow Rami on twitter @RamiAbughazaleh. Opinions expressed in this piece belong to the author.