All successful projects start with a plan – in our industry this starts its life as a creative brief. In theory this brief serves a valuable purpose of clearly defining the goals and scope of a project.
In the busy and demanding world of the creative industry, the process of briefing and pitching is the lifeblood of agency life. But briefs can vary significantly in detail and content from client to client, so what exactly should be covered?
Often you can read through a brief and it can seem like a brain dump of every idea and every possible angle of a campaign or project, and whilst this is helpful in some ways, it doesn’t allow us to understand your expectations fully. The key part of a brief that grounds creative, and ultimately will guide a tailored and more appropriate creative response, will be to tell us the budget.
The common phrase ‘we don’t want to restrict your creativity by providing a budget’ doesn’t help anyone. The bottom line is you can’t have a Lamborghini on a Ford budget, but we might be able to get you a top of the range, sporty number with some added extras, giving you the bells and whistles in a way that’s right for you.
Briefs don’t necessarily need to be lengthy. Ultimately we want you to tell us what you want and what’s on your mind when you think about this campaign.
Starting with clear, structured headers can help align your thoughts and reduce the chance of it getting carried away or the key points being swapped. Tell us about the product and the company; it might seem simple but it could provide insight that research won’t highlight. Objectives, audience and things you already know are all useful tools – if you’ve already contracted a venue you should use this opportunity to condense what is it that you’ve already got ticked off.
As an agency we actively do return briefs and supply clients with our own briefing template. Return briefs not only help clarify but also ensures we are both on the right page, allowing us to present exactly what we understand the core requirements to be. When written from a different perspective it can help hone in on desired outcomes and highlight if something key is missing.
An open dialogue provides two key opportunities for both you and the pitching agencies; an opportunity to push the brief further and ensure everything is covered by inviting questions, as well as allowing a first glimpse into the working relationship and chemistry you might have.
A call with each agency isn’t time consuming; it’s a valuable insight for both parties and will ultimately reduce wasting any time.
A key question we always consider is what is it that you, as a manager and the person ultimately responsible for this project internally, needs. What is going to make you look good? There’s no harm in admitting it – your agency is there to support you.
By telling us how you will mark the pitches it not only shows us which areas sit closely to controlling your decision making process, but also reassures us that there is a level playing field. Some people are more visual and need a presentation which is heavily image based, where as some clients gain perspective walking through step by step as part of the customer journey – it all helps us communicate clearly our idea.
What agencies have to remember is that the client sits very closely to a project and it can often be hard to simplify everything that is happening or needs to happen.
A brief is a valuable tool and will reduce your workload further down the line – trust us!
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