Five steps to writing the perfect brief

Getting the best out of your agency starts here.

Russell Holmes, 31.05.2021

As a branding agency we are sometimes surprised that even the most successful businesses or entrepreneurs often struggle to write a creative brief. Conversely, start-up founders can often distil their requirements into a few perfectly succinct paragraphs. Here’s a few pointers on how to get the most out of your creative partners.

1. The basics
In short, a good brief tells an agency what problem you need to solve and why. Give succinct information on both of these. In my experience the clearer a brief is, the better — creativity is at its best when responding to a specific challenge or a well-defined opportunity.

2. Provide context
Rather than just provide some basics about your business, a brief should explain why your product or service is important/useful/differentiated from your competitors. Hopefully you’ll have a good understanding of your audience, their social behaviours and buying habits — all this should be included.

3. Share your inspiration
If you’re new to working with a creative agency, providing references as to what inspires you — Pinterest boards and Instagram accounts for example — can be useful. Remember, however, that you’re commissioning an agency for their creativity, not to copy an existing idea or a style.

4. Deliverables — what do you need?
Don’t forget to include more pragmatic details including the consumer touch-points you think you’ll need and when. Work with the agency to prioritise those that are critical, and those which can follow on.

5. It’s just the start of the creative process
Finally, remember that the brief isn’t the answer, it’s the question. Don’t be too prescriptive over exactly what you expect. If in doubt, a short brainstorm session with your agency can help manage expectations and remove unnecessary frustration on both sides. Going even further and writing the brief in tandem will go a long way to ensuring a successful outcome.