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The Art of Taking a Brief

Every few weeks, we hand over the blog to a member of staff. This week Alex Chau, our business development and strategy guru, shares his thoughts on briefs. Not those briefs…

It’s easy to think advertising is all about creative mind maps, writing engaging copy, or designing attractive visuals. Before any of that happens however, it’s vital that we take a brief from the client. Might sound simple, but taking a brief is so much more than writing down what has to be done. It’s about getting to the heart of things, mining for insight and figuring out just how big of a gap there is between what the client wants and what the client needs. It’s not easy.

Where to start

Taking a brief can make or break a project. Whether it’s brand development, advertising video marketing or corporate comms, the foundation of any successful job is getting the right information about what your client wants to achieve, then communicating it effectively to your team. When you take a brief effectively and make sure your creative team has a clear understanding of your client’s objectives, you’re halfway to success.

So what do I means by “take a brief” correctly? Well, it’s all about clarity. Sometimes the client will be fully prepared to give you all the information you need, but other times you’ll need to come armed with a list of questions so you tease out all the relevant details about what you’re client is looking for. Sometimes those questions might even force your client to think more about what they want to achieve, in which case you’re helping them to crystallise their ideas.

Some of the things you should think about when taking a brief include:

The Objective

The most important thing to establish when taking a brief is a clearly defined and transparent objective. As a creative ad agency, we’re here to provide solutions for clients. Without knowing the objective, it’s difficult for us to take the project in the right direction. For every piece of information you eke out of the client, try to think how it fits into the overall objective of the project.

Budget

As our Business Development Director mentions in a previous blog post, having a clear idea of the budget is essential when handling a new project. This is especially true in new client relationships where you don’t necessarily have all the background knowledge on your client’s business structure.

Without an idea of budget, you run the risk of pitching ideas and solutions that are way too grand for the client’s modest budget. Although it might seem pushy to demand a budget if it’s not disclosed within the brief, we always try to explore what ballpark figure the client is comfortable with.

Timeline

In an ideal world, we would have as much time as is required to make a project perfect (we all aspire to perfection), but in a fast-moving world, we aren’t always afforded this advantage. It’s therefore extremely important to discuss what timeframe the client has in mind. That way, we are able to be realistic with the client as to what we are able to achieve in that time.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of questions. Each project and brief are different, so some of what you should establish with your client will depend on each individual project. However, the tips we have laid out here should serve as a solid foundation upon which to build your brief taking strategy.

 

Alastair Dickie

17th November 2016