Chances are that you have been looking at your website with different eyes this year. A year in which your digital presence has become more important than ever before due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. Suddenly your website, your app and social media account became your only tools to stay in touch with your customers and if you were lucky you were already set up to utilize them as your shop window from which to make sales. But whether you were or weren’t set up to run your business online, what is a given is that this year’s events have accelerated the need for (re) development of online tools and strategies for many businesses.
How you brief your agency to help you execute these changes and improvements is crucial. Your briefing determines what you get back from them. A good briefing will produce better results faster and at a lower cost. To help you achieve this we have put together some general brief writing tips and a content list to get you going.
1. Be clear
It seems self-explanatory that the aim of a briefing should be to give the agency clarity of what your objectives are. However, the pitfall that many clients fall into when writing a briefing is to focus on the wrong objectives such as overall business objectives, sales targets, or brand and marketing goals. Spend time to describe the problem or opportunity that you are facing rather than putting the focus on possible outcomes or solutions.
2. Boil it down
In essence, writing a brief means making decisions about what is needed. Deciding what information to leave out of the brief is an important part of this.
Keep the content of the briefing to a minimum and provide only the information that is relevant to the task at hand. Aim for something that can be remembered by the team you need to brief even when the briefing document is not in front of them.
Of course, you can supplement the brief with attachments, examples of competitor sites, or online designs that you like. This extra information can spark thought processes and discussions that can help lead to a solution. Additional material such as your brand guidelines should also be added as an attachment. The original brief document however needs to stay clear and simple.
You rely on an agency to deliver great creative work with enthusiasm. It is only fair to apply the same ethic in composing and delivering your briefing to them. Companies who put more thought into their brief and use their creativity in presenting it tend to stand out and inspire. But a good briefing alone doesn’t create magic. To motivate or inspire anyone, there needs to be a good understanding of what’s important to that individual or organization. When you invest in a close working relationship where an effort is made to understand each other and recognize common goals, success is much more likely to be achieved.
There are different briefing formats and layouts to use. Regardless of which one you use it should contain the following elements:
- Explaining your company’s background is essential. An agency needs to learn everything about your business there is to know. Company history, products, and services, brand story/identity, size, staff, and locations will all help the agency to understand what you’re all about.
Main Communications brief:
- What is the problem/challenge/opportunity?
- What message do you want to get across or what are the emotional or functional benefits you are aiming for in this project?
- Describe your target audience in detail. This means more than simply demographics, it includes attitudes, preferences, and other motivators.
- Give some feedback on your current/old online presence. What works, what didn’t work, things to keep, things to lose.
- List all technical features and requirements you will need in this digital project. It is important to mention this upfront to avoid incurring extra costs later in the process. Think of things like log-ins, payment methods, calculation formulas, shipment tracking, discount codes, social media feeds, online booking, API integration, discussion forum, etc.
If your project concerns web design, e-commerce or an app development then be sure to explain the scope of the design requirements. This can be done by including a sitemap if you have one or at the very least a description of main navigation requirements or a number of pages. The sitemap and other overviews can be included as an attachment. This will help the agency scope design work more accurately.
- For branding projects it is important to include the list of deliverables you are expecting such as logo formats (horizontal, vertical, with/without tagline, negative versions, etc) and stationery designs. Remember, communicating these details means the agency can draft a realistic scope of work and timing, minimizing delays and unforeseen costs.
5. Admin & Process
- Indicate project timelines and key dates
- Be clear on the project budget
- Outline a response/communication mechanism
- Make clear who is expected to create and deliver content. This is often a topic that causes delay so point out who is responsible for supplying text, illustrations, photography, etc.
- Be open about your evaluation criteria to manage everyone’s expectations in reviewing delivered work
- Ensure everyone is aware of the approval process as it requires signatures from both parties to be valid
We hope these tips are supportive and motivate you in your brief writing process to achieve a result that inspires. If you have questions on this topic do not hesitate to get in touch with us.