“It’s a fast-track project”, “I don’t have the time” and “The advertising agency already understands what is needed” are common reasons given by advertising buyers for not writing a client brief to their advertising agency. We at Jung von Matt understand that it can be tempting to just jump into a project, assuming that everyone has the same vision of what shall be done. The problem? That is rarely the case.
The main role of a client brief is to start the project with a shared clarity of purpose and a clear direction of what we are striving for. From our point of view, it is the most important piece of information issued by the client (the advertiser) to us as an agency. It acts as a form of contract between all parts. Without a written brief, there is no record of what we are expected to deliver or how the creative output will be evaluated.
The benefits of a brilliant briefing process
While it takes some time to write a client brief, it’ll be well worth it to help ensure the deliverables you as a client receive align your expectations and business needs.
A clear brief:
1) makes the process smoother and more efficient
2) with less confusion and misunderstandings
3) which makes us faster and more flexible
4) which leads to better and measurable work
5) while everyone is saving time and money.
But only a written brief will not do all the job. Back it up with a briefing meeting together with the client and the agency where questions can be asked so that everyone is truly clear about what needs to be done. This is where we ask all the questions (even how stupid they might be) that we still find unclear. This is also an opportunity to motivate the agency team and make the briefing an inspiring experience.
Debrief – the agency's response to the client brief
Before it is time to start the project, the agency will get back to the client with a debrief (can also be called a rebrief). The agency’s debrief is equally important as the client brief. This is where we share our view of how we understood the client and the task – in our own words and not just by copy and paste from the client brief. This is to make sure that everyone is on the same page and that we have understood each other correctly before we press play.
We believe that a combination of a written brief, a verbal briefing and a debrief is the best practice and leads to better results.
Assumptions or reality?
We said it before, but it’s worth repeating: As an agency, we can’t afford to rely on assumptions – and neither do our clients. That is why the briefing process is so important for us.
We are aware of the fact that everything we say is based on our own experiences. It is likely that others perceive it in a different way than was intended – no matter how clear we perceive ourselves being. Even nomenclature in marketing may have different meanings in the industry. For example: communication concept and communication strategy, is it the same or is it different? What is the clients actual definition of a concept and is it the same as the agency’s view of it?
For a well-working agency-client relationship, it is of vital importance that we understand exactly what is needed and why, that we don’t just guess and hope for the best. When we have this common foundation and understanding, we can use it as a springboard for new ways of thinking.
How do I write a successful client brief?
There are many different ways to create a client brief. What is essential is that the structure reflects the client and agency's common beliefs about how effective communications works and therefore what is important enough to be a part of the brief.
We at Jung von Matt have developed our own client brief which we think covers everything that is important for us to deliver great work for our clients. But it is not written in stone and we are always open to discussions about how to further improve the briefing process and cooperation.
You are welcome to take part of our client brief here. If you want to get the brief in a fully editable Word document, just send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and write “Client brief” in the subject line.