A brief blog about, er,..briefs!

A project is only as good as its brief.

Imagine the scenario, you’re at the hairdressers. On a whim, you decide that you’re going to go for it, rainbow hair here we come. You’re fed up with the same old you. You want something different, a bit daring. After a brief chat through with your trusted hairdresser you literally place your head in her hands. You’re adamant it’s what you want.

Coffee, magazine, foils, coffee, shampoos, conditioner, coffee, blow dry and three hours pass you by. You have a wonderful head full of multi-coloured tresses. The hairdresser has done a lovely job, executed the colour with precision to give you the exact look you desire. But wait for it, the reality sinks in, swiftly followed by regret, then panic. What have I done? There was nothing wrong with your actual hair colour and aren’t you just a little bit too old to be following the hair trends of twenty-somethings. Your new hair just doesn’t suit you. It feels awkward, fake, like you’re trying to be someone you’re not.

As the negativity seeps into your soul and takes hold, it could be very easy to direct this at your hairdresser, but is it really her fault? Has she not done exactly what was asked for and styled your hair to the brief you supplied?

And if there is one thing worse than no brief at all, it’s an incorrect brief.

Any project relies on the communication of a brief. The clearer, the better. The more focused the brief, the more honed the output will be. But translating your desired outcome for the project into a workable brief can be a tricky business.

The first step is defining what you want to achieve. The next step is defining how it’s going to be done. This process of defining and instructing how the work will be carried out includes many aspects and there are some fundamental instructions that need to be crystal clear.

What are you trying to say? Let’s get to the nitty gritty, what are you selling? What is your product, your service, your mission?

Why are you communicating? Define a reason for your marketing. Is it to raise interest, increase sales, prompt a specific action, or educate and inform.

Who are you talking to? Define your target audience. Who will be reading your ad, watching your podcast, or visiting your website? Ultimately, who are you hoping will buy your product?

Where is it being displayed? Is it for print or online, for social media, or a case study, a brochure or a billboard? This will affect the tone and the scale of the project.

When will it be published? Does time have any impact on your project? Is it time-sensitive, urgent or evergreen? Are there print dates that come into play?

The more specific that any of the answers can be, the better your brief and the better your project results will be. Wishy washy answers and vague oxymoronic statements lead to confusion, misinterpretation and ultimately frustration on the part of the creative and the client.

Using the five questions above is a great starting point. Then further questions can be asked to fill in the gaps so whatever your communication is, it says not only the right message, but it talks to its audience in the right way, too.

Susanne Wakefield

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