12 Questions to Ask Yourself When Writing an Agency Brief

“If you are trying to sell someone your idea and you can’t define it to yourself, then that is a problem.” – Garance Dore

Largely speaking, when a brand gets in touch they know what they are looking for from an agency. Sometimes, however, as we break it down, we can soon realise that the brief is a little muddy and they’re not always sure about what they’re looking for. Whilst Garance Dore sees it as a problem, as a luxury digital marketing agency, we’re here to help and guide in-house marketers to make the right decision.

What Purpose Does a Creative Brief Serve?

Let’s start by delving a little deeper into what a creative/design brief is all about and why it’s so important to get right.

Think of a creative brief as a kind of style guide that lays down the foundations of a marketing campaign. It outlines the strategy of the design project, including the business’s objectives and stakeholder goals.

Developing a creative brief template helps to put the scope of the project into words and once you’ve determined the right questions to address, you can use it time and time again to develop any future creative projects.

The Many Benefits of an Agency Creative Brief

There are many benefits to be seen from doing it. Here are just some of them:

  • Uniformity: Having a brief that outlines what you are hoping to achieve from your campaign ensures that all those included in the creative team are on the same page from the get-go.
  • Saves time: While developing a good creative brief may take time up front, it could help to prevent misunderstandings, conflicting ideas, and last-minute alterations.
  • Cements Communication: Establishing your metrics, deliverables, and overall objectives from the outset is a great way to bring everyone together and anchor the whole marketing team.

What Questions Should Be Included in a Creative Brief

We thought we would help the process by sharing some of the questions we will always ask in the initial stages of a project and why, which will in turn help you write a brief for your agency.

1. What is the business objective?

The business objective can be creative or commercial but it shows where the business is focusing on the success of the project/ work. For example “We’re looking to grow our share of voice amongst our set competitors by X%” or “We’re looking to increase revenue by 40% YoY”.

By understanding the business objectives and targets, we are able to better guide you in terms of which channel should be doing what for you to achieve the objective/ targets.

2. What is your biggest business challenge?

This is ultimately to understand how we can help you better. There can be more than one, however, often this is “we do not have the time or expertise to do X”, or “we are doing X but we’re not seeing the results.”

The more insight into the challenges you’re facing the better we can help you.

3. What is your budget?

Many clients like to hold back the budget figure they have assigned to a project, however, this is vital to understand in order for the agency to pull together the right proposal to provide the most cost-effective plan to bring the objectives to fruition.

4. What is your timeframe?

To help us understand the timeframe in which we would need to execute the work, the team we would need to resource the work proposed as well as manage your expectations.

5. What brand positioning work has been done before?

This helps us understand the point from which we will be joining a project. If this work has been executed, then we can start with brand immersion alongside the brand strategy. If not, then we would typically recommend undergoing a brand strategy work.

6. What work has been done which is similar to the project?

Whether this is how something is being managed currently, or a campaign that was run recently, understanding the past, and why you’re looking to change it will help us understand the project better.

7. What is the team structure like?

It’s great to know who we would be working with, throughout the project and to better understand the human resource your side to support the project/work.

8. What does success look like?

This will be linked to the business objectives. Success can also be linked with the management and delivery of the process – to match how you work as a company.

9. What is the company’s approval process?

As we are a time-based company, this helps us understand how much time may be needed on an account management level as well as how much lead time we would need to build into a plan.

10. Who is the target audience?

Understanding your audience is a vital part of any marketing campaign. Before you begin you should know the demographics of your target audience pretty well, including their age ranges, where they’re from, and what they like.

It’s also helpful to understand what the target audience’s current perception is of the brand/company/business. This can help a lot when considering how to get your message across to them.

In addition to determining your target audience, you also need to consider where your target market lies. Due to advancements in technology, these markets have very much changed over the years. While television and radio may have been the hottest forms of marketing in the 80s and 90s, today it’s all about social media, podcasts, and email marketing.

Making sure you have the right mix of marketing media for your target audience could mean the difference between a successful campaign and an unsuccessful one.

11. Are there any mandatory items or key messages that need to be included in the creative brief?

There may be certain things to incorporate within the design process that are an essential part of the project. This could be things such as the company logo, or specific corporate colors. It’s much easier to establish these at the start of the project rather than trying to ‘fit them in’ later on down the line.

12. Who is the competition?

Knowing who you’re up against is another key consideration when developing your creative brief. Wherever possible add links to your competitor’s sites, as well as a run-down of any similar projects to yours they may have attempted.

Creative Brief FAQs

What are the other key features of a great creative brief?

Message and tone – It’s always a good idea to note down exactly how you want your message to be heard. Are you looking to empower your audience? Or perhaps you want to highlight the company values? Just remember that the message and tone of the campaign should match that of the overall brand to ensure consistency across all your marketing initiatives.

Include a call to action – This feature goes hand-in-hand with the above. You need to include a call to action in your content brief that defines why a person seeing your ad should respond now as opposed to later. One thing that works well is to create a sense of urgency for your product or service, without setting unrealistic expectations.

What questions should you not ask in a creative brief?

You should now have a pretty good idea as to what to include in your creative brief. But just to go that one step further, we thought we’d share with you some of the pain points to consider when constructing your creative brief:

  • Random questions – It’s important to stick to the right questions when composing your brief. Including unnecessary information wastes time and could confuse the message you are hoping to convey.
  • Generic questions – Questions that have no substance to them and are just meaningless and add nothing to the brief. Try and keep all questions relevant and concise.

We hope this helps you formulate a strong agency brief. If you would like some support on defining what work you’re looking for, do not hesitate to get in touch and perhaps we can help you navigate the work you may need to do to build your brand.