Effective briefing leads to better work and makes remuneration fairer 

Without a written brief the work can be creatively brilliant and extremely effective in working against the wrong objectives. Even if the aim has been verbally expressed, agreement in writing is essential to have shared clarity of purpose.

  1. Be clear about what indicates performance
  2. Provide the information necessary to complete the task

No-one wants to waste time and money, but often the local partners’ time is viewed as more expendable than yours. Efficiency all round is only achieved by clear aims and focus of effort. The view that not writing a brief is faster, assumes that faster to the first presentation of an idea is the aim, rather than faster to agreed work. We need to take into account that most ideas presented are not agreed the first time. So saving time in the short term is often a false economy.

Written briefs act as a form of contract between parties. They lay out what the delivering party is expected to deliver in a measurable way. Without mutually agreed objectives, the local partner’s work can only be evaluated subjectively, leading to dissatisfaction.

Use the form to record your thought process. Separate communications objectives from broader marketing objectives.

The effective briefing format

The format should reflect the beliefs about how communications work and therefore what is important enough to be included in the brief.

  • Where are we now?
  • Where do we want to be?
  • What are we doing to get there?
  • Who do we need to talk to?
  • How will we know when we have arrived?

Background should include

  • Background: Usually covers the business and marketing context and why the task is important Marketing or Sales Objectives: This sometimes includes the business case for the activity
  • Brand: It might include brand identity/brand capsule/brand vision/brand architecture/brand status/brand values/brand personality
  • Previous Learning: Again a section which is only used occasionally, but may have wider potential

Communications should include

  • Communications objectives: Sometimes they might be expressed as communications imperatives/challenges/barriers
  • Target audience: Usually this section asks for more than simple demographics and specifically prompts for attitudes or other motivators
  • Consumer insights: Sometimes specifically linked to the objective
  • Key message/proposition: Often phrased as the single-minded proposition/the one thing we want to say

Implementation should include

  • Timings/key dates: May include project timelines as well as the timing of the response
  • Budget: May specify if production is included or not
  • Response mechanisms: On relevant types of brief
  • Evaluation/success criteria/metrics: A critical element for most disciplines
  • Mandatories/guidelines: May include what must be included and execution considerations
  • Approvals: Signatures of both those issuing/approving the brief and the agency