Brief encounter

Time spent writing a good creative brief is an investment that pays dividends!

I’ve been a professional creative now for over 30 years, and throughout that time its always been my firm belief that a good creative brief is the most important document in any creative agency. Recently though, with the pace of communication becoming ever faster, spending time on briefs can feel increasingly inconvenient, maybe even bureaucratic.

There are, of course, times when a brief may not be necessary, a very simple creative task or straightforward development of an existing project for example or when client and agency have built up a level of understanding and trust over many years.

We promise clear thinking and real results, but without a clear brief – neither of these things are likely to occur, because entering into any creative project without an agreed brief is like trying to hit a target you can’t see.

Why is a brief important?


You can’t solve a problem you don’t really understand. What are the objectives and expectations?  Do you have a vision in mind and is it realistic? A good brief puts everyone on the same page. Alternatively, if a creative project is unsuccessful, chances are that the brief was insufficient, incomplete, confusing or nonexistent. If you want to reach your target audience, it can only help to spend a few minutes at the very beginning of your project thinking about who they are and the best way to do it.

Investing time up front to get the brief right saves the agency time and the client money. A nailed down brief will ultimately shorten the time it takes to complete a project, it facilitates clear thought and thorough communication at the beginning of the creative process – rather than changing it halfway through when time and money have already been wasted.

A good brief gets better results. For us, achieving real results means our marketing projects must show a good return on your investment and clearly demonstrate their contribution in achieving your business objectives. The creative brief that clearly articulates those objectives serves as an anchor for both the you and your agency team: if we aren’t clear what they are, how do we know when the project’s finished or if it’s been successful?

The whole process will be much shorter and more rewarding. Ambiguous goals and unclear objectives coupled with vague statements like, “this needs to have a real wow factor,” are a fact of life for creative professionals. But working on the brief together with clients forces any clarity issues upstream where they can be addressed effectively, reducing the chances of an agency misinterpreting or misunderstanding unclear instructions and clients becoming frustrated.

When creative is produced with the objectives front of mind, defending aesthetic choices becomes simple. Suggesting to the CEO that the font he likes better is not consistent with what appeals to the target audience brings the discussion back around to what is important: creative communications that are consistent with your business objectives. The briefing process is as much about anticipating obstacles as it is about understanding and aligning objectives. Better to get clarification during the briefing phase than when we’re in the middle of presenting to the board.

The end product will be much more effective. Success is a direct result of setting clear objectives, time frames and expectations up front. The good news is that you don’t have to do this on your own – talking to your creative agency, (Guerilla of course) before or while you’re writing the brief, can help to bring objectivity and clarity to the brief writing process. It’s worth a discussion, time spent on a well thought out brief is an investment paying handsome dividends to all parties involved: a more streamlined process that saves time and money, achieving a better quality of output and, ultimately, increasing trust and understanding between agency and client – and isn’t that what we all want?


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