So you’ve got an idea and you need to make it happen? A quick Google of a few design agencies and you’ve got a list to send your idea to. It’s a big idea, a surefire winner. You’re going to make this happen. Everyone is going to get it, right?
You get your head down and write your ideas up and email the agencies. You get some replies fairly quickly. Agencies want to meet, but they send a long list of things they need to know. ‘I’ve written a brief already haven’t I?’, you ask yourself, ‘Do they not get my big idea?’
A good, credible agency will want to know a lot about you first. They’ll want to understand your business, your ‘big idea’ and how you work. They’ll begin with asking lots of questions about your values, your brand attributes. It could be you don’t have those yet. At Studio North we don’t lift a pencil, a mouse or place a cursor on a screen until we truly understand your business, your objectives and where you want to be as a business. A well crafted brief will give an agency a great insight into those key questions. If you ask for a logo, we’ll ask you why.
What’s motivated you to reach out and ask for help?
So where do you start? Your ‘big idea’ of course. The reason why you want to hire an agency. What’s motivated you to reach out and ask for help. Start to write down your reasons first. This is a good exercise anyway as it will help focus your mind on your longer-term strategy too. We’ll describe those questions later in this blog.
Equally as important is budget. The true cost of building your big idea has to be defined. At Studio North we’re ready to listen, yet we’ll be honest too. Our fees are determined by the quality of our team, our experience and our insight into brand. This doesn’t make us exclusive but having a full understanding of your budget, or helping you to define yours, makes the process work better for both sides. Often clients are cautious about sharing budgets upfront, sometimes because they want to compare approaches and see how different agencies fees work out. However, creating and sharing a budget is one of the most important aspects of brief writing. It helps an agency understand the opportunity, the scope and reality of what can be achieved. Similar to making any other purchase, the seller needs to understand what’s affordable. Ultimately underpinning this is cultural and chemistry fit. An agency and client have to share the same values, culture and vision to successfully achieve their goals.
The deployment of your big idea is shaped by your budget.
If you’re in a position where a budget has been set and targets agreed internally or by the board, then the next step is to map out all of your goals. What needs to be achieved and when. The next steps are to identify your marketing channels are fit for purpose and you have a strategy in place to achieve this. That’s where we come in. We recognise that some clients don’t have a large enough budget to undertake a full rebrand or build a new website. By determining a budget we can then begin to look at how to help you and your company achieve your goals. The deployment of your big idea is shaped by your budget. One brand I worked with spent tens of thousands on creating a fantastic immersive website but forgot to budget for activation, meaning that the marketing and promotion of it was very limited.
Time is a precious commodity, there’s often too little of it! Agencies measure work by time. Those who are well experienced will be able to work out how long it will take to achieve the creation of your brand activity and what elements are involved. Equally as important is when you need your big idea to be activated and how you make that happen. There’s usually not too much beard stroking and ‘blue sky thinking’ in an agency but the implementation of a solid thought process and thorough research into your business, your market place and your competitors. Agencies want to know this so they can help you create differentiation and a unique space for your business and its brand. This does mean time and the more comprehensive a creative brief, the more time efficient an agency can be.
Share your pain points alongside the positives – we like to get underneath your company’s skin.
Next is to consider your stakeholders. If you think about your brand as a film, who is your audience, who are the actors and what is the storyline. Stakeholders are employees (who make great brand ambassadors – see our blog on employee engagement), owners of the business such as investors, customers, the media and many more. Each stakeholder may need a tailored message – but understanding who is engaging with you – or who you want to engage with you, is vital.
Typically the reason people reach out to an agency is because of their creativity or market understanding. You likely have lots of in-house skills but need additional support. An agency can be seen as an extension of your marketing team with lots of specialists. So, be prepared to treat your agency like colleagues and collaborate with them. Share your pain points alongside the positives – we like to get underneath your company’s skin.
Finally, share your existing marketing collateral. Tell us what you have been using already and what has worked. We want to understand your sales methodology and how you use your client data. It may be a simple tweaking of your sales and marketing approach with new collateral or using a new marketing platform that is needed for example.
So to recap, here are the six easy steps to creating a great brief:
1. Tell us who you are – What is your business (products and markets) ?
2. Share your idea/needs with us – What are you trying to achieve?
3. Budget – We always share our rate card with you, this gives you an idea of pricing and the value of work. Having a realistic budget from you, helps us determine how we can help
4. Timescale – Tell us the timescales in which you want to achieve this and a deadline
5. Stakeholders – What’s the target audience?
6. Share collateral – What have you done previously? Share your collateral, let us understand the position you are currently in. Existing brand guidelines, values and mission statements are a great way to start
Even your brief starts out as a one-page document, this will give an agency a starting point. So, get writing your brief, determine your budget and give us a call. The kettle’s always on and we’re ready to talk.
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