Creating a clear brief will help any designer or copywriter to deliver work that meets all your expectations. Copywriter and marketing communications consultant Mike Hadley explains the importance of setting objectives and shares his own briefing form.
During my many years of working with clients, advertising agencies and design companies, I have been surprised how often there is no proper brief to detail requirements and expectations.
This can leave both parties disappointed. Clients may be frustrated that they do not get what they want (or expect). The designer or writer may feel that their client is being difficult or indecisive.
As a copywriter and design manager, I have created my own briefing form that I have developed over the years. This covers most of the aspects I would normally expect to consider, to ensure that I deliver work that will be effective. While I don't always complete it in full, at the very least it serves as a useful prompt to ensure all the main parameters are covered.
Briefing form for copywriters and designers
Briefed by (name and job title/responsibility):
- What do you believe you require? For example, from copywriters, this could include website copy, blogs, sales literature, case studies, articles, reports, social media posts, customer emails, press releases, advertising copy, scripts or speeches. From designers, this could include: logos, websites, adverts, brochures or exhibition displays.
- What do you want to achieve in the short term and the long term? For example, to generate immediate enquiries or to build a brand.
- How will you evaluate its effectiveness?
- Who do you most want to reach, and how many?
- Describe relevant aspects, both in professional terms - nature of business, position held, etc - and in personal terms - age, sex, etc. Use socio-economic classifications if appropriate (ABC1).
- Your current position and, if relevant, the required positioning in the marketplace, both actual and perceived.
- SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats).
- What is the single most important benefit that will appeal to your target audience? Why is this important to your customer?
- What are the secondary benefits?
- What is the key statement that summarises the main benefit of your product or service?
- Why should the audience believe what you claim?
- What sort of response are you seeking? To increase general awareness? To change attitudes? To buy?
- Is there an immediate action required: to email or click on a link, for example.
- The use will influence the design/copy approach. For example, will information change frequently? Is there a need to provide different information for different audiences?
Tone of voice:
- What sort of language should be used: casual, formal, authoritative, friendly, humorous, serious?
- It may be helpful to provide examples of existing material, as well as style guidelines.
- How will this content be delivered? By email, online, on social media, posted or handed out in person?
- Assume the agency/designer/writer has no knowledge of your activities. It is all too easy for work to fail because of incorrect assumptions. Supply the essential information they need.
- How does this relate to your wider business strategy?
- What is the competition? Are you aware of any similar activity?
- Is there anything else you have done, or are planning to do, that is relevant? Where appropriate supply examples.
- How do your target audience feel about your product or service in relation to alternatives available to them?
- Supply the information you wish to be communicated. In some cases you may have draft text, in others you may only have the germ of an idea - so describe what you want to say.
- Indicate key phrases/terms relevant to the business. Provide information on keywords for search engines.
- List and supply all relevant information.
- Detail who is to do what and by when. For example, client to agree brief by a certain date.
- Before beginning work a budget should be provided and/or an estimate agreed.
- Clarify the basis of any estimate and when costs may be subject to revision (eg if the brief changes substantially).
- Agree terms and conditions.
- Agree now on the first action required, and by when.
- Agree a schedule to show stages and dates for each stage. For example: agree brief, initial concepts, first draft or design, final revisions, publication, delivery.