What is a brief?  That’s not a trick question. It’s a genuine enquiry, since different people seem to think about the role of the brief differently.

Maybe it’s one of those words that’s been bashed around and mistreated over the years. So there comes a point where it stops meaning what it used to.

Let’s start with a clean slate and be really specific. The best definition we’ve ever seen, is “A structured conversation with a purpose.”

There are three things that stand out in that six word sentence: 1) Structured – a consistent format means that everyone in your company uses the same approach, so your suppliers always know what to expect from the process. 2) Conversation – It’s easy to think of a brief as a noun, but it’s also a verb. When we brief someone, we’re not just presenting them with a document. We should have a conversation – that means both sides get to contribute and we arrive at a consensus around the deliverables. 3) Purpose – it’s so important to always have an end-goal in mind.

The next question that often pops up, is “How long should a brief be?” In our opinion, a brief should be as long as it needs to be, and as short as it can be. After all, it’s called the ‘brief’ for a reason.

In the end, a great brief needs a combination of two things: detail and direction.

Think of it like a box of LEGO.

You can have all the parts, but without the right instructions, you’ll always be guessing about the end result. Equally, you can have all the instructions in place, but if some of the key pieces are missing, you’ll never get the desired outcome.

When it comes to briefing an agency on a project, it’s always useful to think about the problem you want help in solving. Now, that might seem illogical, especially if your events and activations have always been successful; after all, if they’ve always worked, where’s the problem? It’s really just a way of getting you to step back from the immediate needs of the brief, and think more objectively about your key goals.

Maybe you want more attendees than in previous years. Or perhaps you need to find ways of driving more sales leads at your next event. All of these challenges fall under the heading of ‘problems to solve’ and they’ll help to ensure that you get the best possible solutions from your agency.