Article • 13 01 2022


New Year, New Brief

As we welcome in ‘22, fresh with hope that it’ll be better than the last few, this time of year is a chance to reset, address past frustrations and set new habits. For the team at Dragon Rouge, it’s a chance to reflect on one the most important inputs of our industry – the creative brief. It’s our north star, our source of truth, but for many of us, their quality is the perennial elephant in the agency/client Zoom room.

The team at The Better Brief Project ( spent some time last year researching the issue and called out a few staggering statistics:

80% of marketers think they’re good at writing briefs, but only 10% of agencies agree

78% of marketers think their briefs give clear strategic direction, but only 5% of agencies agree

– Rebriefs happen 90% of the time

Could ’22 be the year we fix it? We spent some time discussing ‘the brief; what makes a good one and a bad one, what it should and shouldn’t capture, how it gets created and by whom, and how to use it’. We arrived at a few key considerations:

1. Clarity: Sounds simple, right? But far too often briefs miss the fundamentals. A great brief should outline the strategic direction in a succinct, focused way and set some clear guardrails to be aware of.

2. Objectives: Agencies are expert problem solvers. We respond best to a challenge, not a set of instructions. A great brief should set the direction and the parameters, not point to an answer.

3. Alignment: Far too often initial phases of work are impacted by a lack of clarity around the strategic direction, and/or alignment across the organisation. With agency performance under the microscope like never before, getting it right in the brief from the outset is a must.

4. Inspiration: Great briefs open creative doors and spark imaginations. They should inspire teams to push boundaries and be delivered in ways that enable agency teams to embrace and own the objective. That might mean doing it in-situ or supported by an analogous experience.

5. A discussion: Ultimately, the creation of a great brief isn’t solely the client’s responsibility. It’s a joint exercise that requires input from the key stakeholders, and stress-testing to ensure it’s right. That takes time, but with the right planning and a strong relationship it shouldn’t be too challenging.

We’ll be pushing our clients and our teams to embrace these principles this year, and hope you do so too. Let’s make 2022 the year where we banish the bad brief.

– James Batters is Executive Director in Dragon Rouge’s London office.