creative brief template

This week’s AdAgeAd Age logo features a troubling piece, Want More Out of Your Agencies? Write Better Briefs:  Execs at Top Shops Say Clients Are Unclear About What’s Expected, Leading to Lots of Wasted Time.  The article cites research sponsored by Jones & Bonevac which includes some scary findings from 250 senior executives at a variety of top marketing agencies.

The survey indicates that more than half (54%) of respondents said fewer than 40% of client briefs give them clear indication of what’s expected from their agencies. Of that number, 30% said only 1% to 10% of briefs provide clear performance expectations.

One may argue that this is just a bit of disgruntled finger-pointing by agencies which are feeling rather marginalized these days — but having been on both sides of the table (client positions at companies like Jack in the Box and Sony and account planner role at the agencies for clients such as Burger King and Land Rover), one thing is clear to me:  the lack of a good client brief/briefing is detrimental to both the agency and the client.

So I thought I’d share with you the template I use for briefs.  It covers the points which I believe are critical for all stakeholders to understand and align with, prior to creative development.

Ideally the brief is developed collaboratively between the client and agency, with the client responsible for contributing the objectives, specifications, and “must-haves”.  As such, there is a good dialogue (and give-and-take) about the assignment between the two parties which only enhances everyone’s understanding and buy-in.  Once the brief is finalized, I recommend a “formal” briefing in which the brief is reviewed with the agency one last time to ensure everyone is on the same page.

Oh, one last point — although there are situations in which an assignment brief  (client develops and delivers to agency) and a creative brief (agency develops and client approves) are used, I offer this template as a starting point for the entire briefing process.  When desired, elements of this template can be separated out into more robust briefs for the different purposes.

Hope this is helpful — let me know your feedback/questions.

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