How to create the perfect creative brief – best practice tips

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Among the many roles a financial services marketer performs, how you brief your creative agencies perhaps has the most potential to impact the success of your projects.

A precise, well-thought-through brief will give your agency the exact information they need to create the result you envisage. Whether it’s an ad, a brochure, a poster or a website, how you communicate your requirements to your agency is crucial in getting what you want.

Most creative projects start out as an idea – possibly one person’s vision. Turning this into reality is a key part of the ‘magic’ marketing teams and their agencies perform. Between idea and execution, though, there are many ways to slip up.

How often has a project not turned out ‘quite as you’d imagined’? Or needed numerous, painful iterations between start and successful conclusion?

The secret is in the brief.

Successful briefing can:

  • Minimise proofs and amendments
  • Reduce time to market
  • Avoid unnecessary agency costs
  • Ensure faster approvals by compliance and senior management
  • Improve collaboration between marketing teams and their creative agencies

Whether you are briefing an online, advertising, PR or design agency, the principles of good briefing are the same.

Here we run through a few ‘must do’s and best practice tips on how to create the perfect creative brief.

Make sure you do a brief

Sounds obvious! – but particularly when agencies and clients work together a lot, the formal briefing process can all but disappear.  Yet providing a written brief is an excellent discipline that can make sure you convey exactly what you are looking for from the agency. It can save time and fees in the long run – negating to brief properly is one of the biggest false economies a marketing team can make.

Understand what constitutes best practice in creative briefing

Being clear, concise and encouraging are three key qualities of a successful brief. Making sure you accurately communicate what you need. Making it brief (as the name suggests) while being sufficiently detailed for the agency to understand your requirements. And important, but often overlooked, making sure you really engage your agency, so they are as fired up with enthusiasm for the project as you are.  All of these will help to make sure you get the results you are after.

Understand what you should include in an agency brief

There are some standard elements that all briefs should include:

  • the project’s background
  • your objectives and the ways you’re going to evaluate success
  • any brand guidelines that need to be followed
  • your audience
  • your budget
  • timescales and deadlines
  • key messages and propositions
  • review and approvals information

Miss out any of these and your brief risks falling at the first hurdle.

Get appropriate approval for the brief

Although approval for the finished product is always built in to the process, do you get the brief itself signed off? Many times, the answer will be ‘no’.

But getting appropriate sign off for the project brief can be a vital step in making sure you and your senior management are in tune when it comes to the aims and planned outputs. Getting approval for your brief can be invaluable in minimising rework as the project progresses.

Making creative briefing an efficient process

Inefficient briefing processes can lead to delays in work being started and frustration on the part of the agency and the client. Do your agencies receive briefs as soon as you send them? Is the agency easily able to ask questions or clarify unclear points? Is there a lot of ‘back and forth’ before the brief is accepted and work gets underway?

Inefficient briefing processes can lead to delays in work being started and frustration on the part of the agency and the client. Do your agencies receive briefs as soon as you send them? Is the agency easily able to ask questions or clarify unclear points? Is there a lot of ‘back and forth’ before the brief is accepted and work gets underway?

Maximising the efficiency of your briefing process will help the project run smoothly and ensure your agency delivers what you are looking for, on time and within budget.

There may be technology solutions that can help you – explore the options around online briefing or briefing via marketing automation tools. These can help with collaboration and communication, reducing the chance of misunderstandings or delays.

Making sure you employ best practice when briefing your creative agencies can make a massive difference to the speed, ease and ultimate success of your marketing projects. If you would like more tips on best practice agency briefing, you can read our guide on how to create the perfect creative brief. You can download a free copy here.

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