How to write an agency brief – 10 top tips
Clients sometimes ask us for recommendations on how to write an agency brief. Here are our 10 top tips to create a brief that will help your agency deliver the campaign you want.
A brief is your opportunity to communicate exactly what you’re looking for. Writing a brief can feel like a big challenge, so work out what you want to say before you begin filling in that briefing form.
Think about what you’re doing, and why. What’s the background – where are you now and where do you want to get to? What are you doing to get there? Who do you need to communicate with? And how will you know when you have succeeded? Don’t use jargon – keep your writing simple, concise and clear.
This is about context – give your agency the background to why this brief is necessary. Previous learnings, budgets, strategies and the outcomes of previous activity are all important. Market research and competitor analysis would also be appreciated. Too much info isn’t something to worry about!
2. Brand guidelines
It’s important to include information about your brand. This could simply mean providing your brand guidelines so that your agency understands your personality, your identity and your values.
This will ensure your campaign reflects your brand and that the whole campaign is consistent in messaging and design, so your audience can easily recognise your brand.
3. Communications objectives
What do you want to achieve? Are there any challenges or barriers? Think about any specific behaviours you want your target audience to display.
4. Target audience
This can be more than simple demographics – think about the attitudes and preferences of your target audience. Create personae to provide a fuller picture of who you want to talk to.
5. Key message/proposition
Identify the most important thing you want to communicate – the one thing you want to say to your audience.
6. Tone of voice
As well as what you want to say, think about how you want to say it. Share your brand Tone of Voice with your agency if you have one. If you don’t, consider how you want to come across – for example, do you want to sound excited, funny, happy, disappointed, confident, cheeky, inspiring? The options are endless so give your agency an idea of what you want.
Be specific about what you want. Do you need a social media campaign, a creative concept, video content, or an SEO strategy? Would you prefer to focus on OOH rather than digital channels? Being clear from the start avoids any confusion and naturally feeds in to the tactics you’ll use.
8. Implementation and tactics
How do you want to roll your campaign out? What tactics will you be using? Think about every asset that needs created and detail the sizes you need, the platforms they’re for and what messaging each one needs. If you can, share examples of campaigns that you like – and ones you don’t – to help the agency understand your likes and dislikes. Let your agency know if some assets are needed sooner than others so that no media deadlines are missed and share all specification documents if you’ve booked media directly.
9. Budget and timescale
Be upfront about your budget and timescales. Work with your agency to plan a realistic timeline for deliverables, including any budget constraints. Your agency can also advise on what you can achieve within your desired budget, which will help you set realistic goals.
Setting a deadline from the start – and sticking to it! – allows the agency to plan a timeline against which work can be scheduled in. Regular check-ins and allowing time for amends and updates is also important, and much easier to do when the deadline for the campaign has been set from the start of the project.
10. Measuring success
Think about how you’ll track the success of your campaign. Common metrics include website traffic, footfall, social media engagement, or customer feedback. Knowing how you’ll track success will help the agency design a campaign with your metrics in mind to get you better results.
For example, if you would like to see an increase in web traffic, part of your campaign could involve an SEO strategy designed to drive visitors to your page. On the other hand, designing and implementing an event would encourage visits and result in an increase in footfall. Being clear about your success metrics means the agency can work on the best strategy for you and your goals.
One final tip…
Once you’ve written the brief and sent it to your agency, set up a call to chat everything through with them once they’ve had a chance to digest it.
A good agency will be able to tease more information out of you – they’ll spot things that you might not have thought of when writing the brief, and they’ll ask questions to make sure they truly understand what you want to achieve.