Top tips for creative brief writing: Getting the most from your agency.

When working with a creative agency it is vital that you give a rock solid brief from the off. Here's our top tips.

September 23, 2021
Graphic Design

When working with a creative agency it is vital that you give a rock solid brief from the off, unless you're a fan of nasty surprises. I say this as the recipient of many a creative brief and as a designer, who without a clear direction to follow is likely to go off on all kinds of creative tangents.

Designers like myself are creative people. We use more of the right hand side of our brains and we tend to think and make decisions in a less rigid and logical manner than a left sided thinker. Creative agencies like Jonarc are jam packed with right sided thinkers which means we often see, do and act based on emotion rather than logic. This can mean, when approaching a creative challenge, we can provide unbridled creativity and umpteen ideas, that will largely be rooted in what we emotionally connect with and what we like. Which is great, if we're producing work for ourselves. But not so much if we're producing work for your brand. That's why providing a thorough creative brief, with clear goals, objectives is always a smart move.

Think of your creative brief as a roadmap, a list of directions that will guide the creatives to the destination. The roadmap analogy works, because it still allows room for creativity - how often have you ignored the sat nav in order to take a better route for example? The defined route has some degree of flexibility and can be rerouted if it gets us to the destination quicker or in better shape.  Providing clear milestones and a defined destination helps to keep the team on track and ploughing ahead.

Give an overview and define the destination or goal

First up, in a couple of sentences, give an overview of the project, or challenge. Remember this is a brief, so keep it that way. Tell us what you want to achieve, what you want at the end of the project and define that destination.

Think of this like an elevator pitch - you've only got a couple of floors to give the key info before the person you're speaking to hops off. Anyone looking at this short paragraph should be able to understand exactly what the goal of this brief is.

What are the key deliverables

Now you need to list, in bullet point form, what you would like the agency to deliver. A good tip here is to use a 🔴🟠🟢 traffic light system to identify which things are absolutely required, which things would be nice to have and which things aren't as important. This can help the agency prioritise what's important and utilise their studio time effectively.

Define a deadline and key milestones - be realistic!

Next up, decide your ETA - when do you want to have arrived at the destination you've just set out. Working backwards from there, think about the key milestones of your project or challenge. Do you want regular updates? What things do you want to see by a certain point?  Would you prefer to have regular feedback sessions with the team? How involved do you want to be in the creative process?

Be realistic and honest here.

Do you already have brand guidelines in place?

If you have a set of brand guidelines, provide them here. If you don't have any brand guidelines, get in touch with us 😉

Who is this for and what is it for?

Tell us about your target market, your customers, your audience. Who are they? What makes them tick? What brands do they align with?

Also consider why you're setting this brief and what you're hoping the response will be from your audience. What do you want your audience to do as a result of this project?

Add some meat to the bones

Thus far, we've been largely keeping to bullet points and short sentences, but now is the opportunity to get into the nitty gritty a little more.

Taking each of the deliverables you've defined, you now need to provide some creative direction to the agency and explain what you're after.

Things to consider:

  • What exactly would you like to have delivered - think carefully about exactly what assets or collateral you'll need?
  • What should it look like? Is there a particular style you prefer?
  • Share links to examples you've found that you're fond of and discuss what exactly it is you like about them
  • Is your brand formal or informal? Premium and prestige or accessible and affordable? What's the brand tone of voice?
  • What should we avoid like the plague? Are there any colours, fonts or styles the team hates?
  • Is there anything else important we should be aware of?

These are just a handful of things to consider, so remember, your brief should be as clear as possible. Someone with no connection or affinity to your brand should be able to pick it up and know exactly what this project is seeking to achieve.

What do you want to spend?

Ah yes, the awkward money bit. If I had a pound for every brief or creative challenge we've received that doesn't define a budget, I'd be able to comfortably retire. Its so, so important that you at least provide a ballpark budget for your brief. It helps the agency figure out how to get you the most bang for your buck, and will help refine the brief to ensure the most important parts are covered.

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