10 Must-Haves in an Outstanding Brief

The creative brief. That document that kicks off the design of a successful campaign, or derails the team through weeks of lost effort.

For some, it is the agency’s job. For others, it’s the client’s responsibility. Either way, one of the biggest complaints agencies make of their clients is that the original brief they received isn’t clear enough or lacks critical information that resulted in poor output. Just like any other process – garbage in, garbage out.

Campaign development costs time and money. If it is a failure, add to it the costs of missed revenue, declining brand equity, and aging inventory to name a few consequences. With so much at stake, it is worth to put extra effort in producing an outstanding brief.

Note that the audience of the brief is not you, your boss, nor the sales department. The audience of the brief is the creative team, who is tasked to come up with the campaign that creates the demand for your product. Make sure it has all the information they need. Equally important, make sure they are INSPIRED by your brand.

While there is no universal brief template, the following are the must-have elements.

1 – Background Overview: context, competitive environment, previous campaigns, brand personality.

2 – Key Objective: problem to be solved, challenges to overcome.

3 – Communication Strategy: outline of the scope on how you plan to deliver the message.

4 – Target Audience: description of your consumer, when, where, how to reach them.

5 – Consumer Insight: that behavior or trend that impacts on your product/service and how you offer it.

6 – Deliverables: specific list of what needs to be created, clear expectations.

7 – Criteria for Success: how you will evaluate the work, on-brand messaging, marketing KPIs, sales targets, etc.

8 – Requirements: any mandatories and guardrails, third parties that will cooperate in the project.

9 – Deadline and Schedule: deadlines for concept reviews, deliveries, launches, executions, and other key dates.

10 – Budget: for development, production, media buys.

Many believe a brief should be, as the name suggests, short. That it should not be more than 2 pages long. While the above should be covered in that length, do no omit information you deem important to the project. Add these to an Appendix.

Do not stop at just sending the document. Tell the story. Bring the team together. Make the occasion memorable. If possible, take them to a special and relevant location such as the product design center. Have special speakers who can convey the essence of what you need communicated.

Be clear to the team on your expectations. But, do not restrict them. Let them to do the magic in coming up with the solutions.

One last note, give the team a couple of days to digest the information and come back to you for a debrief. This step should not be skipped. You would want to make sure they understood the task and everyone is on the same page before moving forward.