How to Write an Agency Brief

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Laura Dean

We’re back again providing you with examples of how to write a creative brief. Why? Because setting your project up for success from the start is how to get the most out of your agency. Providing a detailed brief upfront will make sure your goals are clear and will help your agency to give you an accurate quotation of work, eliminating the chances of hidden costs and project creep. Here, we’re giving you examples of the two most common briefs we see as a fully integrated agency; website development, and branding.

Writing a website development brief

So you’ve decided you’re ready for a new website. The quickest way to achieving your goals is by providing your agency with a comprehensive brief that gives your project the greatest chance of success.

The key to a great brief is giving us detailed background about your business, telling us what you want to achieve, and helping us to understand your target audience. It is useful to provide example personas as well as sharing your likes and dislikes. We also need to know about any specific existing functionality that you want to carry over to the new website.

Last year we provided you with a how-to guide, how to write a creative brief in 6 simple steps, and now we’re following up with more examples of what to include to get the most out of your agency.

Tell us who you are
Give us your organisation name and a link to your current website, if you have one. This will help us to get a feel for what you currently have.

Key contact details
Assign a manager from within your organisation. Who will be the key point of contact running the project from your business? In order to keep to schedules, we’ll need a dedicated person who can make decisions, answer questions, and keep the project on track at your end.

Tell us more about you
Give as much information about your business as possible. Include details such as:

  • Your USP (unique selling proposition)
  • Your origin story
  • How many team members you have
  • Who your target audience is
  • What your annual turnover is and what you’d like to achieve in the next 1/3/5 years
  • Tell us why you’re different from your competition

Why a new website?

Tell us why you want a new website. You should include reasons why you may think your current website (if applicable) is not performing as you’d like.

What do you hope to achieve by implementing a new website? This will help guide us in your website development and make sure we can meet your requirements. If you can share statistics about your current website, it would be useful to know how many visitors you have; what the conversion rate is; what goals you have in place, etc.

Tell us what other marketing activities you carry out
Give us a brief overview of the other marketing activities that you currently carry out, including any plans you have to support the success of your new website. This could include information about email marketing, paid search campaigns, social media posting, etc.

Show us some websites that you like
Whether these are in your field or not, give us an idea of websites that you like, including any particular features that you would like on your new site. This might include functionality such as cost return/ROI calculators; mapping information, integrated CRM or accounting systems such as Sage200.

A basic brochure website will usually include pages of content, internal links, contact forms and a global header and footer. However, it’s important to consider what additional functionality your website may need.

Functionality is a term we use to define features of the website that we build to enable users to complete tasks, such as:

  • Careers/jobs vacancies
  • Contact/newsletter sign up forms
  • Integrations with third parties e.g. CRMs and ERPs
  • Video embedding
  • File downloads
  • Site search
  • Filtering
  • eCommerce

If you think your website needs any of the above or anything not mentioned that might be additional functionality, please let us know at the briefing stage to avoid extra costs and delays down the line.

Compile your assets
Bring together all of your content and branding assets so that we can easily identify which new assets might be needed. Before we start development of your website, it is ideal to be prepared with your content. Knowing what you want on each page will help with the design process and reduce the likelihood of delays if you struggle to produce your content in time.

Tell us about your stakeholders
Who will use your website or have a say in the design and functionality? Tell us about clients/staff/investors, etc. If you can, give profiles for your customers that will help us to understand the personalities behind the visitors to your new website. It may be necessary to tell us about who your current visitors are and who your aspirational visitors are.

Who do you consider to be your main competitors?
If possible, include a list of who you believe to be your main competitors. Provide us with their websites, where possible.

As part of our website development projects, we encourage you to use our audit service, which includes detailed keyword and competitor research. However, in the first instance, providing us with this list will help us to understand the current landscape. We often find that as part of our research, we uncover websites that you may not initially believe to be a competitor, but they may be outperforming your website in search engine results pages.

Tell us about your timescales
It’s important to be realistic here. We are a dedicated website development agency with decades of experience and a build strategy that has been perfected over hundreds of clients. This means that it will take longer than a few weeks to produce a high-performing website.

Our typical timescales range from 12-16 weeks, depending on the complexity of the build, integrations, content development and whether or not you would like us to perform an audit prior to the build.

You should also consider the time it will take to gather feedback from all of your stakeholders, as this can often delay a project.

Before going ahead, we will provide you with a timeline that includes multiple feedback stages. We can work with you to ensure you have enough time to gather valuable feedback, however you must be aware that any delays in response will affect the overall timeline and launch of your website.

If you have a particular product launch or an event that you are attending, try to work backwards from this date to make sure you have time to get your new website in place. We always advise our clients to have some buffer room too. The last thing you want is to rush your project.

Tell us your budget
We understand that this may be your first website project and so you are unsure of the appropriate budget. We’ll guide you on the various elements required so you can make an informed decision.

We’d always encourage you to speak to multiple agencies to make sure you find the right fit. However, we’ll also make sure that we’re upfront and transparent about our pricing.

If you’re looking to produce a standard brochure site (no purchasing functionality) then we’d advise a cost of £8k-12k depending on the content and functionality.

If you’re looking for an eCommerce website where your visitors can buy from you online, our prices start from £12k and can vary depending on the complexity of your needs and any integrations required. We’ll always provide you with a detailed quotation before we commence any work.

Other considerations
Before submitting a brief for your new website, it’s important to consider:

  • Who will manage the day to day running of your website? Do they need some training? We’ll provide basic training once your site is created, and we’ll provide you with an easy to use content management system.
  • Do you have hosting in place or do you need it? If you’re not familiar, hosting is a necessary element of having a website. In order to be visible online, your website needs a domain, and a hosting server. We can help you with hosting however, we advise you to purchase your domain before beginning a website project, as you might find that the domain you want is not available.
  • Having a website is like having a shop with no signposting. Just because your shop is there, doesn’t mean that customers will automatically find you. Consider your launch plans and continuous investment. How regularly do you plan to create new content for your website? How will you guide people there? Do you have a budget available for ongoing SEO and PPC work? Do you have a database of customers that you can send regular emails to?

Now, what if you don’t want a new website, or you’ve realised that before you build a new website you need a brand? Read on for how to write a branding brief.

How to write a branding brief

Similar to a website development brief, a branding brief is an opportunity to share your likes and dislikes with your agency. Your brand sets the tone for your entire business and should incorporate your values. The brief should outline your future objectives, helping the agency to create an identity that is not only representative of where you are now but where you want to be.

Tell us who you are
A simple first start – tell us the name of your organisation. If you have a hierarchy of brands and sub brands, tell us where each of them sit to help us build a picture of your needs.

Key contact details
Provide us with a dedicated point of contact in your organisation. This person will be responsible for managing communications between us, ensuring the project runs to schedule and that any information needed is shared.

Give us a detailed background on your business and what led you here
Help us to understand your business personality. We want to know when you were established, the story of how your business came to be; where you’re at in your journey, including where possible, some key metrics, such as revenue and customer base.

Now is a great time to tell us about any external factors that affect your business. Are you regulated by any organisations? Do you offer a niche service or product? What sets you apart from others in your market?

Provide a thorough list of stakeholders
We want to understand the people who have a vested interest in your brand. Who will need to sign off and feedback on design concepts? Is there a Board that will need buy-in? If you can provide some client/customer profiles here that would be very helpful.

Tell us the vision for your business and your future objectives
Give us an outline of your future plans so that we can understand what you want to achieve. Branding a small business with a niche market will be a completely different process to branding a business with mass market appeal. It is helpful for us to understand the steps in your journey so we can support you at each stage.

Share your mission statement, if you have one, as this will help us to understand your goals and objectives, creating a brand that resonates and reflects who you are.

Show us your existing brand identity (if you have one)
This will help us to understand where you are and where you want to be. We often say “evolution not revolution” when it comes to branding. If you’ve already built a strong identity that resonates with your audience, it’s important to keep elements of it so that you don’t alienate any existing clients. We want to make sure you’re still accessible and don’t lose brand awareness.

Try to describe the feelings you want your brand to evoke. Often when we discuss “brand”, it can be interpreted simply as the logo you display. In reality, it’s so much more than this. Creating a brand identity is about understanding the feelings you want to evoke in your audience. You want to build relationships with your audience that make them feel positive about your business. For example, this can be through eco-friendly initiatives or effective storytelling, and all of this can be done with your brand identity. This can be your logo, but it can also be your tagline, your tone of voice, the colours that you use, etc. Let us know if you want your audience to feel empowered, supported, energised, strong, etc.

Let us know the brand assets you require
We can put together a branding package that suits your needs and we’d be happy to guide you however, it’s always good to include in your brief what you require/expect. We recommend thorough brand research and exploration, as well as brand guidelines.

Do you need specific versions of your logo? Do you need mock-ups to include a website home page? Are you planning a huge social campaign and need designed assets specifically for posting on Instagram, for example? These are all questions to consider when writing your brief.

Help us to understand why you are doing this process and what outcomes you’re hoping for
We want to be as transparent as possible and make sure we’re all on the same page. We’d like you to tell us what you want to achieve, and we’ll tell you if we can help you to reach your goals. Is it brand awareness? Is it a certain sales figure? How you will measure the success of your branding project? Will you run focus groups and ask for customer feedback? Or will you be using digital metrics such as traffic to your website? This will help us to understand your wider strategy and advise you on the best course of action.

Provide a list of your competitors
As part of our project, we’ll often conduct thorough research to establish the state of the market you work in. However, we find it beneficial to understand who you perceive to be your main competitors, enabling us to outline best practices and consider any gaps in the market.

Provide a timescale
We’ve worked with some of the biggest and most successful brands in the UK. This has helped us to build and perfect a process in our studio that can be replicated for success. It’s important to be realistic with your timeframe and enable us to conduct thorough work, to bring you the best possible outcome.

At the briefing stage, it is very helpful to highlight any hard deadlines or specific dates that you have in mind. We advise that a branding process (including the production of a variety of assets and guidelines) can take 6-12 weeks, depending on the scope of the project and the assets required. You should also consider the time it will take to gather feedback from your stakeholders, as this can often delay a project.

Before going ahead, we will provide you with a timeline that includes multiple feedback stages. We can work with you to ensure you have enough time to collect valuable feedback, however you must be aware that any delays or extensive change requests could alter the delivery date of your project.

Let us know your budget
We understand that you may not have experience in writing creative briefs and you may be unsure of the appropriate budget. We’ll guide you on the various elements required to help you make an informed decision. We encourage you to speak to multiple agencies to make sure you find the right fit. However, we’ll also make sure that we’re upfront and transparent about our pricing. We’ll always provide you with a detailed quotation before we commence any work.

Are you ready to write your project brief? If you’d like to chat through your needs first, get in touch.

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