Collective: The great, simple marketing brief




All great briefs can articulate the overall task in just one sentence.

Clients and agencies need to work together to move beyond a “garbage in, garbage out” mentality.


A marketing brief that lacks important information (or has too much of it) will generate creative work that misses the mark. This is known as the “garbage in, garbage out” effect.


In 2013, a study conducted by Joanne David Consulting surveyed more than 1,200 C-level agency executives from around the world who reported frustration regarding the quality of client marketing briefs. More specifically, 53% found briefs complete but lacking focus, 27% found them incomplete and inconsistent and only 20% found them focused and consistent. Furthermore, 49% of agency creatives stated clients had limited strategic capabilities. Ouch.


But let’s be fair and acknowledge today, clients have more customers, stakeholders and channels to manage than ever before. Developing a focused marketing brief is no easy feat. Many marketers would feel downward pressure to accomplish incredible ROMI’s against limited spending. With so much complexity around media consumption and the changing conditions of customer behaviour, it would be impossible to confidently pinpoint what information is most helpful within a brief without first spending tens of thousands on market research.


We truly feel for our marketing counterparts, which is why we have written this insight.


Creating a ‘focused and complete’ marketing brief can be as easy as following this 10-step process:

  1. Background
    This section explains the bigger picture by introducing the brand/product/service and what it stands for. Include a synopsis on how the brand is currently performing in market and its two biggest competitors. Keep it brief and include detailed research and information within the appendix.
  2. The Target
    This section should focus on one target per campaign despite a company having 7 different segments. As the saying goes, ‘you can’t be everything to everyone’ so remain focused. Specify demographic and psychographic information such as age, gender, shopping habits and media consumption preferences. Depending on campaign goals, include data on brand awareness levels and perception too. If this information is not provided, the agency may insist on conducting their own consumer research as they don’t typically ideate against anecdotal assumptions.
  3. Campaign Goals
    What’s the big goal here? Are you trying to generate higher levels of brand awareness, grow market share within a product category or perhaps change customer attitudes? Don’t focus on specific actions, but the overall outcome you want to achieve from running the campaign.
  4. The Tension
    What is it that you are trying to persuade your target audience to do? Why aren’t they already doing what you need them to? Understanding the inertia and tension between your product, service/brand and target audience is key in identifying how you can win them over. State this in one or two sentences only.
  5. The Opportunity
    What will reduce tension? How can you solve the inertia problem? State this in one or two sentences only.
  6. Budget
    Always a point of contention even though great campaigns come in all shapes, sizes and budgets! This section is important in setting realistic expectations when it comes to execution, production and reach. Media spend should always be noted.
  7. Deadline
    Having a proper deadline can boost the proficiency, accountability and management of a campaign. Expect the agency to come back with alternative options after timelines are fleshed-out. Be open and realistic to what is feasible from a creative and production standpoint.
  8. Mandatories
    Logos, fonts, taglines, images, T&C’s – all the essential details that keep the integrity of the branding and any legal requirements intact.
  9. Campaign Objective
    How will success be measured? Perhaps it’s by a spike in online sales, email registrations or product trials. Also consider awareness levels or shifts in emotional equity.
  10. Collaboration
    At the end of the day, teamwork makes the dream work. Meaning, client and agency need to work together in developing processes and formats to support constructive relationships that propagate great work.



  1. The Pitch Process: Turning client briefs into great ideas, then selling them by Beyond