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August 01, 2009

Clients are the source of our creativity

A brief lesson

The brief is the most important bit of information issued by a client to an agency. It’s from the brief that everything else flows. Indeed written briefs are a point of reference that can be agreed at the outset and therefore, to some extent, form a contract between client and agency. The better the brief, the better and more accurate the results. The more time, effort and information you input at the start, the greater the time savings throughout the process.

Writing a brief is easy

Writing a great brief isn’t. Anyone can write a brief but in order to create great work, the briefing needs to be thorough. here are a few simple steps for briefing the agency that can go a long way to giving you a great and hopefully effective campaign.

1. Always have a copy of the agency’s internal briefing form to hand to use a a guide to the information they need. (See below.)


A sample brief

2. Understand each section of the form and why the agency needs to ask these questions.

3. Insist on seeing the agency’s finished written brief before the creative team get their teeth into it.

4. Always give feedback on the concepts, good and bad, as this assists the agency on future briefings.

So, let’s run through some of the sections.

Interesting information about the company

Imagine this section is an RSS Feed. Tell the agency what’s new in your company’s world. The agency will know a lot about you, your values and the things that make your employer brand what it is.

What matters more is the latest info. Are there new locations or offices or the fact that you are bringing in new technologies. These are the things your audience want to know. It might even be a small cultural thing like fresh coffee and the odd chocolate biscuit in the office.

Single Key Message

This little sentence, and it should be no more than one sentence, is perhaps the hardest group of words for the agency write in the entire brief. This is because it carries so much weight, because it must be influential. You can help by suggesting what the most important thing the company wants to say and from this, the agency will come up with a message that attract the right person to your organisation.

Why should our audience believe this?

Good question. Assuming the Single Key Message has substance, then the selling points your organisation prides itself on will form the proof behind the message in the communication and the agency copywriter will weave the proof into the copy so giving us something compelling and incontrovertible.

Role/s highlights

Do you know the job you do? Well there’s a pretty good chance the audience we are talking to will have a decent grasp of theirs too. What we want to tell them is the detail that makes it different from what they have been doing.

Think about what current employees say. Why did they join in the first place or, why do they stay? It will probably be a way of working or maybe a rewards scheme.

Who are we talking to and what makes them tick?

This is vital information. It’s more than just women returners or Telegraph readers.

Consider this scenario: we want to attract NHS nurses to join a private hospital. In order to work out what we want to say, we first need to know what makes these nurses tick. Why did they become nurses in the first place? Is it because they’re naturally caring people? Why are they still with the NHS, despite its faults? Are they fed up and just waiting for the opportunity to move? Would they feel like a traitor i leaving?

What the agency needs to find out is precisely who we need to talk to and what they are thinking. Only then can the work talk about their hopes, dreams, fears and aspirations.

Client sign-off

Once the brief is written, it’s important to get it approved by you (the client) who gave the original brief. This will ensure we have the right information and that any misunderstandings can be amended.

What else makes the briefing process more successful?


A great brief isn’t a guaranteed panacea. There is always a chance that information or it’s interpretation can get lost in translation. When this happens, and it will, we need to know where we went wrong. We need to know why an idea wasn’t liked or why it needs to be tweaked.

This intelligence will assist the whole agency when we rework an idea or when we work on the next project.

I hope you find this not only helpful but also, important. At 360º we pride ourselves in delivering strong creative solutions that work. We can’t do this without dedicated clients who see the real value of compelling and targeted communications that are only realised through clear and precise briefing.