Decorative pattern

Best practice agency briefing

September 2021


Given the amount of hats the marketing manager has to wear, it’s no surprise that the marketing team traditionally calls on external agencies to help.

Whether it’s SEO expertise, social media help or creative design, partnering with specialist agencies can bring a degree of focus and experience that a generalist marketing team just can’t provide. An external agency can be a cost- and resource-efficient way to bring on board the knowledge and skills you need without having to employ additional team members.

And how you work with them can have a huge impact on the success of your projects. The way you brief your agencies makes all the difference here; best practice agency briefing can make the difference between a project that runs smoothly, with a positive outcome, and one with less successful results.

How can you ensure you adopt a best practice approach to agency briefing?


What is a brief and why does it matter?

Most creative projects start out as an idea; unformed, possibly one person’s vision. Turning this into reality is a key part of the ‘magic’ performed by marketing teams and their agencies – and your briefing process is key.

A specific, well-thought-through brief will give your agency the exact information they need to create the result you’ve envisaged. Whether you’re producing a video, working on pitch documents, making your annual report more eye-catching or designing a new website, the way you communicate your requirements to your agency is crucial in getting what you want.

Between idea and execution, though, there are many ways to slip up.

How often has a project not turned out ‘quite as you’d imagined’? Or needed numerous, painful rounds of changes between first proof and sign-off?

The secret is in the brief. Get it right and your agency are on board from the outset; they have a real sense of what you want and how it can be delivered.


The benefits of successful briefing

Best practice agency briefing can:

  • Minimise the number of amendments and proofs needed
  • Speed collateral to market
  • Avoid unnecessary agency costs
  • Make it easier and faster to get approval from the compliance team and the business
  • Improve collaboration between marketing teams and their creative agencies – particularly important when people are working remotely
  • Ensure your brand is represented correctly

It doesn’t matter whether you’re briefing a digital, advertising or creative design agency, the principles of best practice agency briefing are the same.

  1. Write a brief

This might sound obvious – but often, once agencies and clients become familiar with each other, it’s easy to let the formal briefing process slip.

Providing a written brief, though, is an important discipline to maintain. In fact, failing to brief properly is possibly one of the biggest false economies you can make, setting you up for misinterpretation and extra time and costs. Taking the time to write a full brief can save time and fees in the long run.

  1. Understand what best practice looks like

Even if you do provide a brief, familiarity can cause complacency to creep in; we take the same approach over and over, without thinking too much about how well it works.

What is best practice briefing? It means being clear, concise and enthusatic.

Communicate what you need accurately. Be concise but clear: don’t write a book, but make sure your brief is detailed enough that the agency can understand what you’re looking for.

And important, but often overlooked, make sure you really engage your agency, so they are as fired up with enthusiasm for the project as you are.

  1. Include the right information

Every brief should include some standard elements:

  • The project’s background; where does it fit into your wider marketing plan?
  • Your objectives
  • The measures you’ll use to decide if it’s been successful
  • Any brand guidelines that need to be followed
  • Target audience
  • Budget
  • Timescales and deadlines
  • Key messages and propositions
  • Team information: who is involved and who has ultimate sign off

Neglect to include any of these and your brief risks falling at the first hurdle.

  1. Get appropriate sign off

Of course, you will get approval for the finished product. But how often do you also seek sign-off for the brief itself? Rarely or never, in most cases.

But getting appropriate sign off for the project brief can deliver tangible benefits, helping to ensure you and your senior management are in harmony when it comes to the aims and planned outputs. Iron out any differences of opinion at the start and you can save time, effort and money later.

  1. Make your briefing process efficient

Inefficient briefing processes can lead to delays in work being started and frustration for both agency and client.

Make sure you’ve agreed on how the agency will receive your brief; do you email it; do you upload it into an online system with shared access; is there a briefing call to talk through any questions?

How quickly do your agencies read the briefs you send? Are they easily able to ask questions or clarify unclear points? Is there a lot of ‘back and forth’ before the brief is accepted and work gets underway?

Making your briefing process as efficient as possible helps the project run smoothly and ensures your agency delivers what you are looking for, on time and within budget.


Reap the rewards of best practice agency briefing

Using best practice techniques when you brief your creative agencies makes a huge difference to the speed, ease and ultimate success of your marketing projects.

You can find out more about Perivan’s design capabilities, and the ways we work with clients to turn their creative ideas into reality, on our website. Our experience in everything from brand development to creative artworking is outstanding – and we love nothing more than getting started on a new brief!


Nothing in this document should be treated as an authoritative statement of the law. Action should not be taken as a result of this document alone. We make no warranty and accept no responsibility for consequences arising from relying on this document.

Subscribe to our blog

Get all the latest blogs straight to your email inbox.

Subscribe Now
Decorative pattern