Having worked on both agency and client-side of the fence, AtomicMedia's Client Services Director, Rob Hallam, knows the value a strong project brief can add to a digital project, and that the onus doesn't always have to fall on just the client to produce one.
There’s nothing more important to a successful digital project than the brief. But often, there’s also nothing more unappealing and intimidating than writing one.
In 15 years of client and project management, I’ve seen great briefs that produce exceptional results. I’ve also seen plenty of briefs that, unfortunately, don’t do what they are set out to do.
Having worked on the other side of the briefing process as well, I’ve got a great deal of sympathy for the challenge of writing a good brief for a digital project.
Although it would be easy to lecture you about the characteristics of a strong brief, it actually comes down to these four simple questions:
1. What’s the challenge?
2. Why are we taking this action?
3. Who are we talking to?
4. And how can we make them care?
If your brief answers these four questions in a clear and concise way, you have pretty much given your agency everything they need to know in order to produce great work for you. Yes, this includes things like budgets, timings, technical restrictions, and of course, brand mandatories.
As an agency, the most important thing for us to know is your challenge. The biggest (and understandable) mistake some businesses make is providing the agency with what they believe the solution to that particular challenge could be.
As difficult as it may be, we would always urge a client to simply tell us what they’d like to achieve. That way our creatives, strategists and developers can go about finding the very best solution for you - a solution that may never have crossed even the brightest minds in your business.
An agency will also want to know why you’re asking for our help in the first instance. By letting us know upfront what your aims are for the project, we can focus on achieving that outcome.
Your target audience also matters a huge amount to the way we work for you. Luckily for us, we have access to an expert on who your audience is, what they want, how they behave, what excites them and what helps them. And that expert is you.
And as well as sharing all of this valuable knowledge about your customer, we want you to tell us why the product or service you’ve created will be something they care about. What is the one or two amazing points about your ‘thing’ that your audience will find compelling?
Finally, the biggest secret of writing an effective brief is simply, to ask for help. Speak to those inside and outside of the project, whether that’s marketing managers, decision makers, and the agency itself, it helps to develop a well-rounded project brief.
The days of digital agencies being entirely cut off from the brief-writing process are thankfully over, and any credible agency will jump at the chance to help your team shape the perfect brief, whether it be for app development, digital marketing, or web design.
After all, when we’re working from a tight brief, we know the work will always be better for it.
So please, don’t be afraid of the brief, or be irritated by it. Don’t let it slip further down your list of priorities because, with a few simple questions, and some willing help from your agency, you can produce briefs that do exactly what you need them to do - deliver results.