The perfect briefing – 12 tips from the point of view of a branding and design agency

Illustration of Paper and red Pen

If you work in marketing, you certainly know this situation: It’s about commissioning an agency with a new project. You try to provide the local team with your information and ideas as best you can. But somehow the spark doesn’t really want to jump over. Why? Often the key to a successful cooperation lies in the foundation stone of the project: the briefing! We have noticed this time and again in our many years of agency work, with many successful – but also a few failed – projects. For this reason, we have compiled the most important points that we consider to be critical for the perfect briefing.

  1. Early birds are in demand! Plan and start the project early. We have seen countless examples where a launch went wrong due to lack of time, or had to be corrected very laboriously shortly after the introduction. Therefore: Inform yourself at your agency before the actual project start about a realistic timing. In addition, plan the idea and concept phase generously and give the agency sufficient time to develop, discard and mature ideas. The generosity of time granted in the idea phase of a project will save you considerable time and money in the further process.
  2. Openness and transparency. If you want to work with a new agency, you can avoid frustration for all parties involved by agreeing on fees, third-party costs, travel expenses, rights of use, payment modalities and expense allowances before the briefing. If you have a specific budget, you must inform the agency in advance. After the briefing, you can expect an easily comprehensible and transparent calculation from the agency. Calculations on call, i.e. without any preliminary discussion, should be avoided at all costs.
  3. Appreciation is the be-all and end-all. They are the most important bridge between the agency and your company. Therefore, make it clear that creative services cannot be purchased like office supplies. Expect maximum creative performance from the agency team, but also communicate internally that you want to appreciate this with a fair payment. This includes, for example, the payment of travel expenses. Because what is usual (and even legally anchored) in job interviews should also be a matter of course in your company; whoever invites pays.
  4. Who wins, why? Use the briefing to name the evaluation criteria you want to use to evaluate the agency’s work or different ideas and designs for a competition. Only if the agency knows about this before the project starts can it concentrate on the important parameters and find a solution that meets all the criteria.
  5. Personality scores! Unfortunately, due to time or cost reasons, briefings are often sent by e-mail or discussed on the phone. With your “house and farm agency”, with smaller projects and in the course of a project this is certainly very advantageous. For larger tasks or the cooperation with new agencies, however, you should definitely seek the interview. Only in a personal briefing (workshop) can you develop a common feeling and understanding for the task at hand. In order to make this effective, you should invite the agency team and the decision-makers from your company. Important: So that all participants are on an identical level of knowledge and can prepare themselves optimally, inform everyone in advance about the content of the planned briefing.
  6. Clear goals, clear announcement. Who knows, where he stands, can say at all only where he wants to go. The honest and open description of the initial situation allows the agency to understand the situation. The result is clearly formulated, prioritised and – as far as possible – quantified objectives. Avoid the “egg-laying woolly milch sow” and concentrate on the essentials. Make the agency familiar with your brand, your corporate philosophy, with the market and competitors, as well as the target group. Formulate precisely how strongly your brand would like to develop, what and how much may be changed and what under no circumstances. An illustration is also important here – perhaps with the help of examples?
  7. Vote on the briefing internally. Before you hand the briefing over to the agency and discuss it afterwards, make sure you coordinate it with your team colleagues or decision-makers. In this way you will sometimes receive helpful new input and above all avoid irritations due to different expectations. Unfortunately, it happens every now and then that the agency presents something different from what some presentation participants expected.
  8. Pictures say more than 1000 words. Take the trouble and add pictures, photos, newspaper clippings, screenshots, etc. to your briefing. Show what you mean by catchwords such as “emotional, high-quality, authentic, etc.” and what you don’t. Illustrate what has flopped in the past or what has been successful. When selecting and compiling images, it is not so much their quality that counts as their content. You will see that you will have a completely different conversation with the creative people than before and that this will have an effect on the quality of the results.
  9. Inspire them! Send samples of your product to the agency, invite to a briefing in your own branch (of course after closing time), lead the team through the production (yes, creative people love factories!) or visit the leading fair of your branch together with the agency. No matter what your final thoughts are, let the agency immerse you in your world; inspire them! This will increase motivation, weld together and increase the chances of success for your project.
  10. A long leash. Define the milestones of the project, but don’t force the agency to take the path it takes to achieve the goal you have set. Do not specify the number of drafts or how you want to work in the concept phase. Micro management is more likely to interfere with the workflow. Get advice on the process because the agency is the specialist and knows how to best and efficiently achieve your goals.
  11. Short leash. We recommend that you first demand inspiration and ideas from the agency rather than elaborate solutions. Make it clear that you do not pay the agency to present many variants of an idea, but rather for real alternatives that are strategically derived and therefore meaningful.
  12. Clear the stage. Give the agency the chance to present its ideas to the actual circle of decision-makers. The agency should be able to fight and stand up for its cause. If in doubt, advertise in your own company on your own behalf and for the project; branding and design should also be a matter for the boss. The immediate feedback from these presentations will speed up and simplify the further process considerably.

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