You know that, of course.  

And many briefs are actually pretty good: clear and specific, with latitude for creativity. 

I think I've seen at least a thousand, probably more, from hundreds of organizations all over the world. And the best - those that inspire truly great work from us - have a few common features worth sharing:

  1. Purpose.  There is a clear description of the problem to solve or the opportunity to realize. 
  2. Parameters.  Great briefs are not overly proscriptive on the desired solutions, but if certain ideas are already off-limits, they're clearly marked.  Asking us to 'stay in our lanes' avoids tension with other disciplines, but may constrain the power of what we suggest. 
  3. Collaboration. Asking us how we would approach a situation, and why we recommend what we do, often leads to better executions than requesting detailed tactical implementations.  The difference - activating the plan is best when it's collaborative (client and agency together), rather than simply delivered. 
  4. Budget.  We know, giving a budget to an agency in advance may feel like giving a fox keys to the chicken coop.  But letting us know what can be spent helps us make the most of the resources available.  Only take proposals from agency partners you trust.
  5. Competition.  Procurement rules often require competitive bids, a reality we reluctantly acknowledge, if not eagerly accept.  A few proposals, focused on strategy, approach and cost-efficiency, almost always produce better partnerships and campaigns than long, drawn-out wide-open pitches.

Yes, there's a little agency self-interest here.  But in the end, we really just want to do great work for you because that's in everyone's interest. 

Thanks David Jenkins for the post attached.  Looking forward to the rest of the series.