Saturday, October 17, 2009

the Beauty of the Brief

While companies are working with deeper cutbacks to budgets and staff, marketers are under increasing pressure to deliver expected results. People are working longer hours, taking on more projects, and given excruciating deadlines to hurdle all the while managing personal affairs and holding on to their sanity.

At the office, sometimes a good idea comes out of a meeting but the turnaround is very tight. It’s lobbed over to you or perhaps you volunteered to get it done. Whether you’re a seasoned marketer or just starting out in your career, resist the urge to simply pick up the phone to your agency or creative department and provide verbal direction to get them working on a project. That might seem like the fastest solution, but often it is not. Without a thoughtful brief, objectives are easily lost and directions misinterpreted; often resulting in rework, frustrated people and potentially a compromised outcome.

Being strategic is about getting everyone on the same page, literally. It’s about providing clarity and direction so people know what’s expected of them and how success will be measured.

I find that a project brief is an excellent communications tool to build agreement and provide direction. There are many examples of project briefs available depending on the complexity of the project. Key questions that should be addressed in a brief are as follows:

What’s the objective?
- What challenge are you hoping to overcome?

What’s the goal?
- How will you know if you’ve achieved your objective?
- What measurement will you use and build into your plan?

What’s the background?
- Why are you doing this?
- Is this a competitive reaction or a brand building opportunity?
- Have you done something like this before? What did you learn?
- What are the obstacles or issues that could be in your way?

Who is the target?
- Be specific

What are the must-haves from the nice-to-haves?
- Are there specific brand messages that need to be communicated?
- Are there legal copy or design considerations?

Approval Process
- Who are the decision makers versus informed parties?
- Knowing this up front can save valuable time and rework costs.

Budget and Timing
- Be specific and realistic

I find that writing a brief is a great discipline. It gives people clear direction and frees them to be creative within known parameters. Briefs require some time and thinking up front but in the long run will motivate your team and ultimately, achieve the best results.

If you have a great brief or idea, please share it or provide a link.

1 comment:

  1. Amen Karin! Creative briefs have taken an extended nap. It's time to wake them back up!