“But that isn’t what I wanted”

When I asked Google to search on “Importance of briefing” I was offered 25.4 million results. A quick scan shows that they cover an incredible variety of situations, but I’m going to limit myself to my world – marketing, if that’s OK.
In over 25 years of commisioning marketing work from multi-million dollar international advertising campaigns to a handful of business cards, I have seen a broad spectrum of results, from award-winning successes to what Craig Revel Horwood would probably call a “disaaaster darling”.
And yet, it’s been (thankfully) very rare that I’ve dealt with a supplier that I thought did poor work. Once the initial emotional response to not getting what I wanted had passed, cool reflection often revealed that they actually did what I asked, or at the very least they only did something I hadn’t told them they couldn’t do.
Too often clients give woolly briefs (I don’t mean thermal underwear), marketing creatives accept them and they are already headed towards a waste of time and money and a damaged relationship. Typically, this situation leads to a meeting where the creative presents some work (which they are proud of) only for the client to say “but that’s not what I wanted”. What subsequently happens is that in exploring why the client doesn’t like it, the real brief emerges and the creative goes away to do the work again, but this time with a clearer idea of what is needed (and not needed).
A good supplier will insist on a good brief and help the client create it. A good client will recognise the need to brief properly to get best value from their suppliers.
A good briefing process also makes it easier to judge creative work, but that’s for another day. For now, just remember …
…if you don’t tell your supplier what you want, you probably won’t get it.
Happy briefing,