To get the best outcome for your brand project, it’s important to write a strong and clear brief for your chosen agency or your short-listed agencies if it’s a pitch. It’s worthwhile to spend the extra time to get the brief right, and ensure your key stakeholders are all in agreement with it prior to releasing it to an agency. Doing this work up-front also saves a lot of time in to-ing and fro-ing with agencies asking lots of questions to gather missing information or clarify ambiguous points.
At BrandMatters, we receive many briefs, but the best briefs we see are well considered and laid out. So what should you include in a brief to a brand agency? We have developed the following list of inclusions for briefs for larger brand projects such as rebrands, brand research, positioning strategy, architecture, strategy and brand naming/renaming.
Summary information table
Include the organisation name, the date of the brief, the project name, the name of the single point of contact/project owner at your organisation along with their title, email address and best contact number.
Essentially, this section is responsible for setting the scene for the agency, who may not know much about your organisation.
Provide a brief background on your company including head office location and number of branch offices, size turnover and number of employees, the products/services offered, the business model and any relevant history.
Also in this section, describe how you’ve arrived at the need for this project, and why now is the right time to tackle it. This section should include a pithy summary of the business case behind the project.
Why does your organisation want to undertake this project? What problem are you trying to solve? What do you hope to achieve? Is it an increase in revenue? An increase in brand awareness? A shift in perceptions? Or something else? The objective needs to be SMART – specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely.
Define the primary and secondary target audience/s for this project. Consider both internal and external audiences. Audiences that may be affected include: employees, clients, customers, investors, strategic partners, suppliers, etc.
List your key competitors here. This helps the agency to gain a broader understanding of your company and the environment/market it operates within.
List the specific deliverables that you expect the brand agency to include and cost in their response to you. What do you want to have completed by the end of the project?
If there is anything that the brand agency absolutely needs to include in this project, include it here. For example, do you have a requirement for a specific research or project methodology to be used?
Are there any aspects of the project that you would like scoped and costed as options, separately to the main deliverables?
Previous relevant work/projects completed
Your organisation may have completed previous projects or research relevant to this project. In this case it is extremely helpful for the agency to know this, as it may affect how they scope and cost the project. There’s no need to provide detailed research at this stage – just list the research that will be available to the brand agency upon engagement, providing details on the type of research conducted and the time period it was undertaken. Similarly, provide a summary of previous brand strategy, positioning or architecture projects undertaken.
Sometimes, an organisation may have previously attempted to undertake the same project they are briefing for, and not succeeded for some reason. Again, it is important to state this in the brief, along with the reasons the project did not succeed, as this may influence the approach of the agency responding to the brief.
If you weren’t able to do any research, what assumptions would you make?
Supporting information / attachments
Are there any relevant business strategy or supporting documents that you are willing to share at this stage that would help the agency to respond to your brief? Some suggestions include: brand guidelines, strategic business plans, media releases and organisational structure.
What are your expected and/or immovable timeframes for this project? Are there any specific project milestones or deadlines that the agency needs to take into account when project planning? For example, are you attempting to rebrand in time to launch at a major upcoming industry or trade show? Or perhaps you need to clarify your brand positioning prior to a merger.
Provide your expectations for the dates for commencement and completion of the overall project, as well as dates for any specific milestones.
Many organisations are wary of providing their budget to prospective agency partners, however, there are benefits in doing so.
There are many ways a project can be approached and scoped. There is a scale from budget-conscious options which include fewer deliverables and/or less rigour and in less time, through to mid-level options and ultimately, all-inclusive options with the most rigorous methodology, highest quality, longest timeline and premium pricing.
If no budget is provided, agencies have no guideline to work within, and they may suggest a completely inappropriate methodology, timing and costs. This then requires all parties to circle back, clarify requirements and budget expectations, and start all over again, costing a lot of precious time.
Providing a ballpark budget or a range is fine.
Response and decision timing
Provide the date that you expect the response from the agency, and list the next steps for your organisation following receipt of the agency response, including dates for any required presentations, and the date of your final decision.
Before you release the brief, it helps to circulate its relevant internal stakeholders to ensure everyone is in agreement with the request. Then ask yourself, if I was the agency receiving this brief, would I have what I need to effectively respond?
To get you started, if you are looking for a simplified version of a briefing document you can download one from our resources section here.