The five principles of a good brief

Getting the best out of a marketing programme begins with being clear about what you want to achieve. Mark Rollinson explains why the success or failure of a marketing project begins with the brief

The most common reason for a project failing in this business is the lack of a clear creative brief. The process of developing, discussing and agreeing a clear brief with your colleagues and your agency will focus your thinking on what it is you are expecting from your marketing activity and what you expect your agency to contribute/come back with. Finally, a written brief acts as the benchmark for evaluating any resulting creative work so avoiding purely subjective reactions.

So here are suggestions on how to brief an agency:

Write it down

The first tip seems simple enough. Make sure you write the brief down. It doesn’t have to be a masterpiece of prose - but the act of writing it down will focus your thinking on what you need to achieve from any given piece of marketing activity.

A written brief is vital in ensuring the ‘buy-in’ of other key people in your organisation. This buy-in is essential in order to avoid the wasting time and resources when senior executives – often outside the marketing department – challenge key assumptions in the brief, leading to belated changes in direction. Written briefs should have the approval of all key decision makers before they are sent to your chosen agency.

Clear and simple

Briefs are called briefs because they are meant to be brief. Make sure they are a summary of your thinking and requirements and don’t overload them with information. It is better to add any details or research as appendices.

Too much information can fog the process. Relevance and context are more important than loads of stats and data.

Clearly define your objectives

Define your objectives and what you want to achieve. Use concrete business objectives and avoid vague terms such as “improve our brand image”. Every objective should start with “to..."

Lastly make sure your objectives are focused and measurable otherwise you can’t create 'success criteria' for your project and consequently measure the success of your agency in meeting those objectives.

Give a budget

There is nothing more frustrating than coming up with a great creative campaign and then finding out it costs five times more than the client’s available budget. At the very least set a ballpark figure to inform your agencies thinking. Mind games that go something like “if we tell them what we’ve got to spend they will spend it” are not helpful. A written brief that includes ‘objectives’ and ‘success criteria’ is vital for accountability and creates the ability to demonstrate the effectiveness of your advertising, media, branding, PR, direct marketing, sales promotion and indeed all forms of commercial communications.

If you can demonstrate the effectiveness of your marketing spend and your agencies you will find it much easier to secure your marketing and communications budgets.

Set a deadline

Be clear about the delivery deadlines and give your agency as much time as possible. Remember, there will already be other work when you brief them, so don’t expect them to be able to drop everything and start right away.

Of course, there are going to be times when you need your agency to respond swiftly to a tactical opportunity. On those occasions, it is not unreasonable for a communications company to drop everything and accelerate the delivery of a project. But this should be the exception not the norm. You should normally allow time for the agency to absorb the brief, discuss it with their creative teams and come back for a question and answer session if needed.

After that, unless the project has an exceptionally quick turnaround, they should supply you with a schedule highlighting the key stages and deliverables of the project. This schedule should provide for an initial concept presentation, time for you to digest the concept thoroughly, and for a second or even third concept presentation if you are not excited by the initial ideas. Once the creative concept has been selected and approved your agency can provide detailed production schedules.

Remember the old adage - you can have it good, you can have it fast, and you can have it cheap. But you can’t have any more than two of the above at the same time!

If you practice these five principles you will demonstrate that you know how to treat an agency and that you respect their work. If you give them the best possible opportunity – as co-custodians of your brand – to blow you away with their creativity will be the winner. Nothing motivates creative people more than producing great work. You will find that you will establish an upward spiral of creative excellence that will drive your brand and consequently your business forward faster than you ever thought possible.

Mark Rollinson is All About Brands’ creative director.

For more information, videos and advice for SMEs, visit www.freshbusinessthinking.com

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Sport
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
PROMOTED VIDEO
Sport
Fans hold up a scarf at West Ham vs Liverpool
footballAfter Arsenal's clear victory, focus turns to West Ham vs Liverpool
New Articles
i100... she's just started school
News
news
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
New Articles
i100
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
Sport
football
New Articles
i100... despite rising prices
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Senior BA - Motor and Home Insurance

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: **URGENT CONTRACT ROLE**...

Market Risk & Control Manager

Up to £100k or £450p/d: Saxton Leigh: My client is a leading commodities tradi...

SQL Developer - Watford/NW London - £320 - £330 p/d - 6 months

£320 - £330 per day: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group have been engaged by a l...

Head of Audit

To £75,000 + Pension + Benefits + Bonus: Saxton Leigh: My client is looking f...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam