What if ad people created the STOP sign? The importance of marketing briefs

What if ad people created the STOP sign?

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I came across this amusing and SCARILY accurate video via Twitter – pity I can’t embed it directly into my blog, but I recommend anyone working in the marketing department of a large, complex organisation check it out – it could well have been filmed as a day in my life!

I’m planning on using it in my next team meeting to focus on the importance of a brief – it could easily have been filmed as a documentary of my last project.   Whilst an initial brief had been written, the number of people subsequently deciding to take a vested interest led to a glorious level of scope-creep, delaying the project, changing the scope of work, and adding to the initial budget.

For those of us who work with agencies regularly there’s no question of the importance of a thorough brief.  But recently, with some of my newer colleagues, there’s been a lot of dissension (some might say whining…) about the agency brief:

  • Why do I need one?
  • They take too much time to complete.
  • Does anyone really refer to them?
  • Can’t I just do a verbal briefing and have the agency write the brief for me?

Without a documented brief, the creative process could well degenerate into a game of Chinese whispers.

chinese whispers

Part of the issue is that, as clients, sometimes we’re not clear on our objectives, direction or proposition.  Whilst we might have an idea in our heads of what we want, it can be difficult to articulate this on paper.  I’ve found a brief, therefore, helps to do a number of things:

  • Focuses everyone on the team on the key objectives, messages and value propositions.
  • Includes clear definitions of the above to minimise misunderstanding.
  • Gives the agency supporting evidence on your key value propositions/claims.

By ensuring there is a clear document of your requirements that all parties can refer back to, you can avoid the following:


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