February 23, 2017

How to write an effective marketing brief

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Writing an effective marketing brief is crucial to getting the results you need. Get it right and your supplier is far more likely to deliver first time, without any surprises. If you don’t provide a brief, or it’s vague and lacks information, it will cost time and money to put it right. V Formation’s Sue Carr provides some tips to ensure your briefs deliver the desired results.

Sue Carr, V Formation It is important to allow time and careful consideration when writing your marketing brief to ensure it is engaging, relevant and factual. When you provide your supplier with the brief, it is a good idea to talk it through with them at the outset to make sure everyone has a clear understanding of the requirements and your expectations.

When preparing a brief it’s important to avoid jargon, colloquials and acronyms. Include facts and don’t make any assumptions about what the reader might already know. Use plain English and include as much detail as possible. It’s easier and quicker for your supplier to cut out the superfluous rather than have to fill in the gaps or make a guess as to what you’re trying to achieve.

Every brief is likely to be different and should be tailored depending on the project. Below is a guide to some of the areas you may find useful to include, along with some questions and prompts to help you to consider all the necessary details when compiling your brief.

Brief specifics – name of project, date, person responsible etc.

This is helpful in ensuring that everyone involved is talking about the same project and is particularly important if you’re working with a supplier on multiple projects. It will also ensure that the supplier liaises with the correct person in your organisation regarding the project.


Assume the agency/designer/writer has no knowledge of your organisation and supply the essential background information about the company, including competitors and external landscape. Provide the background to the specific project and the rationale behind it. It’s also useful to share details of past and future projects to add some context.


What you think you require. For example, a corporate brochure, website, sales literature, letter, form, PR, exhibition material, or advertisement. It’s always worth keeping an open mind as your supplier may have an alternative suggestion that you might wish to consider – great suppliers will use their expert knowledge to make suggestions that add value to your project.

Purpose and objectives

Why this project is this needed and what are you hoping to achieve. If the project will have measurable long and short-term objectives, make sure these are clear at the outset. This could include generating a certain number of enquiries as a short-term objective and increasing sales by a certain amount as the long-term objective.

Target Audience

Who are you hoping to reach? Perhaps include personas of your target audience to give your supplier a greater understanding. Provide details how to want to position the offering and the key messages you are trying to communicate e.g. the product benefits and proposition. These messages could differ if multiple audiences are being targeted.

Executional specifics

Provide all the specifics. These are likely to include:

  • Format
  • Tone of voice
  • Brand/style guidelines/values
  • Image styles
  • Quantities
  • Distribution
  • Sizes

Specific content

Provide the copy, images and logos that need to be included. You might also wish to include any facts, testimonials or case studies that back up the proposition.


During the initial discussion agree a schedule with your supplier to show stages and dates for each stage: e.g. agree brief, initial concepts, detailed design, draft text, artwork, final revisions, to printer, delivery etc. Also, at this stage it’s important to ensure you agree the next action. If you’re working to a deadline for your project, ensure it is clearly communicated.


If there is a budget for the project, state it. If you are seeking an estimate based on the brief, ask for it.

Having a clear and detailed brief will make life easier for everyone – reducing confusion, uncertainty and misunderstandings. Although it requires some time and effort at the outset, you will feel more in control of the project, your suppliers will love you for it and you will get much better results. Plus you are likely to save time and get the result you are after on time and within budget.

V Formation regularly manages projects on behalf of our clients. We have strong links with trusted partners with whom we have worked for many years, including photographers, film companies, graphic designers, brand agencies, print companies and many more. If you’d like to find out how we can help with your projects, please get in touch – we’re very friendly!


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