As the Senior Account Manager at Southerly, I’m often the bridge between the client and our creatives in editorial and design. As any account manager, knows, this can sometimes feel like begin stuck between a rock and a hard place, particularly if everyone has a different understanding of the brief.
The importance of spending time on nailing down a ‘good brief’ cannot be overstated. Agencies can spend a lot of time (and budget) working on something that you haven’t asked for. From an agency point of view, an unclear brief or no brief at all, can actually be very stressful – working without a clear idea of what the end result should be is harder than you think and can result in internal strife. But more importantly, delivering the wrong thing could potentially lose a client’s confidence – or even the client.
So how can you avoid a situation where your deliverables are delivering? We’ve worked hard over the last year to perfect our briefing process – here are our three golden rules that may help you avoid a sticky situation in the future.
1. Remember that briefing is part of the creative process
- All projects should be briefed in – size doesn’t matter
- An account manager should hold a briefing call or confirm the brief by email. We find it helps to have a briefing template that we can either send to the client to fill in, or go through with them over the phone. This is then signed off by the client before the editorial or design teams begin work
- Once the brief has been signed off, the account manager should speak with the editorial or design teams to ensure they understand the brief and talk them through it. If there are any problems or concerns, the account manager should then go back to the client for further clarification before any work begins
Delivering the wrong thing could potentially lose the client’s confidence – or even the client.
2. There is no one size fits all approach to briefing
- Remember – different types of content require different briefs!
- Creative briefs are like snowflakes, not two are the same. There are all sorts of different briefs – web project brief, print brief, social media brief – a design brief shouldn’t be the same as an editorial brief. Make sure you pick the right one and include the right details…
3. There’s no such thing as being too prescriptive
- What are the specific deliverables? It’s OK to spell out what actually needs to be produced!
- Give the background – what is the business need behind the creative?
- A brief should be clear and concise – no fluff or fuss – but that’s not to say that your partner agency won’t benefit from any supporting information you can provide. We also include a section in our briefing template called ‘The Kitchen Sink’ where we ask clients to include anything else they feel we should know – this could be any potential sensitivities that surround the project (such as internal politics)
- Give a clear idea of the timeline and provide due dates
- Don’t forget to include the budget if you have one – this will give everyone a realistic idea of how much time can be spent on a project or how much work can be produced. An up-front discussion about what your budget will get you can help to avoid difficult conversations later if your partner agency bills more than you expected, or you get less for your money than you thought you would.
So that’s it. The three golden rules. It may feel like you’re spending a lot of time at the beginning getting the brief right, especially if you are on a tight deadline, but you’ll reap the rewards at the end.