How to Write an Effective Brief

How to Write an Effective Brief

How to Write a Brief

Writing a brief allows you to effectively convey critical information to clients, agencies, and various stakeholders. And with a well-written brief, your project is far more likely to succeed, as it provides a clear framework everyone can get on board with.

A good brief can come in many different forms. Different companies use an endless range of formats, styles, and questions. So, while it’s impossible to guarantee a brief that pleases everyone all the time, there are five key things to keep in mind.

Before we jump into these key elements to include in a brief, we'll first go over what a brief really is.

We’ll show you how to write a good brief, and provide you with a flexible template for your own projects.

What is a Brief?

A brief is often required by key stakeholders, such as clients or a creative team, before they agree to proceed with a project. But what is a brief, and what do they look like?

A brief is a clear and detailed mix of a summary, guide, and argument, which is used to quickly deliver the most important facts and provide an overview of a project’s objectives. 

Like other aspects of project management, there is no standard project brief template or style that can be used for all projects. A brief’s content varies with the project type - such as if it’s a legal or a creative one - and its size - a large one or a little one. Plus, when it comes to the length of your briefs, each one can vary significantly from one project to the next.

Five Things to Include in a Brief

The following are the general things you need to include in a brief. Remember, this content can be broken up into several paragraphs, or you can use headers and bullet points to organise it.

The Background Information

The context of the project and the business behind it should be described in the opening paragraphs of your brief. Write one or two sentences summarising the company's or individual's history, values, and motivations, and begin to relate these to the project's main objective. Think of it this way: people may be customers of a product, but they are also customers of a brand, so it’s important to consider the brand behind whatever you’re creating. 

The Main Objective

What is the main objective? Every project should have a clear, unwavering goal in mind, and all of the project's efforts should strive to achieve it.

Try to be as specific as possible about what you hope to accomplish in each brief. Think of it like this: what are the new behaviours you’d want to see from your target audience? Be sure to narrow down your industry, or your client’s industry, first. This is a good starting point.  

There is a reason the business isn’t currently achieving this objective. So, you should also explain how the project intends to address and resolve the issues which are preventing the goal from being met.

An excellent way to start thinking about this is: How does the product or brand fulfil the emotional and physical demands of the target audience?

The Target Audience

It's critical to keep in mind who you're trying to sell to, as you can’t please everyone all of the time. For this part, you may be able to use the brand’s existing buyer personas.

Defining your target audience early on helps you avoid scope creep as much as possible. Scope creep is when the project's scope exceeds the primary project objectives or timeline. If you don't know who you're trying to reach, you may need to rework portions of your project, which could lead to budget or schedule overruns.

To focus on a more specific audience, you need to think about the following:

  • Demographics - age, sex, marital status, education, income, etc.

  • Geographics - the customer’s location.

  • Psychographics - attitudes, values, lifestyles, and opinions.

Once you’ve narrowed down who the target audience is, there are some further  questions you may need to think about. We’ve got a list of questions to consider in our free template below.

The Competition

By analysing information about competitors, you can refine the strategy behind the brief and come up with fresh concepts. Include a list of the leading competitors and a short description of their products and services, and explore the parallels and differences between the brand’s company and its competitors. 

Feel free to include competitors or other brands. You can learn a lot from them too.

The Timeline and Details

Consider including a project timeline in your briefing document. A project timeline is the best way to communicate important dates and milestones with your team. Remember, the success of your project hinges on your ability to meet your deadlines and achieve your project goals on time.

You also need to consider the milestones, assets and deliverables. These are your project objectives. Try to make them SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-Bound.

Developing a brief doesn’t stop once you click ‘Save’ and ‘Send’ - there will always be minor refinements (and sometimes significant changes) to get the brief perfect. It's good to share the finished document with a few important people or even plan a meeting to go through the brief and obtain feedback. Remember, a brief is the first step, and it paves the way for the rest of the project. It’s important to set time to receive feedback through meetings or notes to ensure it’s tailored to the project or client.

What Makes a Good Brief?

  1. Trying to juggle a million and one tennis balls is bound to lead to a chaotic mess. You’re going to end up dropping them all. The same goes for your project’s goals. Keep one key goal in mind throughout the entire document. Make sure each point or suggestion relates to the realisation of that goal.

  2. It’s called a ‘brief’ for a reason! The main argument and descriptions should be communicated in the fewest words possible - keep your writing precise and crystal clear.

  3. Don't hesitate to divide your brief into paragraphs, bullet points, or seemingly-random jottings until you feel more comfortable tying the sections together. You can also include links, photos, or diagrams if you think it’s appropriate. Project briefs are ultimately only useful if you (and other project stakeholders) find them to be.

  4. Include all the necessary details. Including relevant examples can help everyone visualise the outcome.

  5. Thinking about the brief from an outsider’s perspective allows you to present the company in a way that is intuitive and shows its values.

  6. Focus on what you do best - adapt your USP and turn it into a running theme in the brief. There’s a reason your brand has an audience, and you need to emphasise what the brand does best.

Why is Briefing Important?

There is no better starting point for a successful project than a well-written brief.

A project brief gives everyone on your team a single point of reference for the essential details of the project. Building a solid business relationship with your coworkers and clients rests on creating an easy-to-follow and intuitive brief.

Another reason briefing is important is because project stakeholders have tons of things on their minds at any one time. That’s where a brief comes in. It allows them to obtain a quick overview of the most critical aspects of the project without overwhelming them. By presenting ideas in this format, you give others a bird’s-eye-view of the project, where they may pick up on important things to change or that you missed. 

Our All-Inclusive Brief Template - You Can Thank Us Later 

The only thing better than a project brief is a well-written project brief. So, here at ADAMAPP we’ve created a Brief Template to help you with your structure. We’ll help you understand exactly what needs to be included, so you can focus on keeping the writing as straightforward and detailed as possible. We know - we’re pretty awesome! Feel free to contact us to let us know.

If you need inspiration for your next project, check out ADAMAPP’s range of case studies and get your creativity rolling.

Brief Template

Section 1: Background Information

Questions to Consider:

  • What is the background of the brand? 

  • What does the brand do, and what is its business model?

  • Where does the brand offer its products and/or services?

  • Does the brand have a philosophy or a mission statement it lives by?

  • Are any of the brand’s previous projects similar to this one? If yes, what was the result and what was learnt?

Section 2. Main Objective

Questions to Consider:

  • What is the USP (Unique Selling Point)?

  • What incentives are there for the target audience?

  • What response do you want to create?

  • What is the exact goal? Customer acquisition? Leads? Sales Growth? Or another KPI?

Section 3. Target Audience

Questions to Consider:

  • Where can you find the target audience?

  • What is the most effective way to reach them?

  • What are their wants and needs?

  • What is their main issue, and how will this product/service help?

  • How will the response and success be measured?

Section 4: Competition

Questions to Consider:

  • Who are the most threatening competitors?

  • Who are the most inspirational competitors?

  • What have competitors done well that we can do better?

Section 5: Timeline and Details

Questions to Consider:

  • What is the format of the project? For example, is it a web development project or an app development project? 

  • Are there any limitations or guidelines?

  • What are the production details?

  • What is the budget?

  • Who is doing what? What are the Project roles?

  • How should communication occur, and what is the optimal workflow?

  • What are the milestones, and what date do they need to be achieved by?

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