1. Inspire

It all starts here. It’s not about filling fields in a form; it’s about inspiring people to produce great work. And this starts with great thinking and clear insight. Do you want us to paint the Sistine Chapel, or spruce up the shed?

  1. Distil only the facts and crucial information into the brief. Your agency will be relying on it.

Tell us WHY this piece of communication is needed, as much as WHAT this communication needs to say. Tell us the real truths that make people seek out your brand, is it feature of benefit led, or does it help fulfill a basic human or psychological need. Try to have original thought; it really helps to spark the creative process.

  1. Organise your thinking.

What’s the back-story?
What’s the problem?
What’s the opportunity?
Who’s it aimed at and what defines them as an audience?
Why would they believe us? What’s the desired effect?
What’s the timescale?
How much can we spend (and will it be enough).

  1. Nail the vital ingredient.

Find the most minimal way to say the maximum thing; whether it’s a single-minded proposition (do you truly have one?), a concise, compelling way to characterise your brand, or something thought-provoking and surprising about your target market? Now, can you defend it convincingly? Can you explain it to your Mum? Could you write an ad from it? Good, then so can we.

  1. Think broader than your own category

Businesses that grow consistently well tend to do so by thinking broader than their own category. So who else is demanding a share of spend from your target market, and why are they succeeding?

  1. Collabo-create

Go in for a bit and work with the agency. Collaborate in the creation of the brief. Create a final draft together once they have distilled it. Sign it off together; it provides a good, healthy discipline for us both.

  1. Face to face

The creative briefing session is your opportunity to really unload your knowledge and opinion onto the agency team. Get them up to speed with your understanding, thoughts and ideas. This isn’t the time for a drive-by or an email; sit down, share it; they’re going to put a lot into it. The briefing should inspire as much as the brief.

  1. Spy

Which competitors are doing it well and who’s doing it badly? Come to the briefing with reference, if you think it adds value.

  1. Experience it together

The creative brief creates much discussion, but once the walls are groaning with ideas and visuals it’s easy to lose perspective. Re-visit what it is you are selling together. Make sure that the creative ideas connect with the product, service or experience. Don’t let there be a disconnect between truth and reality… or your audience might just highlight this for you.

  1. Parallel brands

Each brief throws up its own insight, ideas and perspectives, but remember, plenty of other people have faced the same challenges. Consider this; what would Virgin, Apple, Nike or Google do if they were leading your organisation? Will you tackle it in the same way?