August 21, 2020

The value in a good agency brief


Paul Lucas

What really makes a good agency brief? Fanclub Director, Paul Lucas explores how brand values are at the core of writing a good agency brief and how you can make sure your next brief is a success.

How to write a good agency brief is an age-old debate. Plug the words ‘writing an agency brief’ into Google and you’ll get 201 million answers in 0.05 seconds. That’s a lot of debate.

Where do you start?

Well, I could write 300 words which end up more or less the same as the 200+ million other examples you’ll find on Google – but where’s the value in that? And value is the operative word here.

Before clattering the keyboard, what we need to do is to take a step back and focus on why we are writing the brief in the first place – and importantly, is it fit for purpose?

Marrying consumer values with societal needs

Pre-Covid when everything seemed fine - well if you ignored the never-ending Brexit debate - consumerism was ticking along at a pace. Yes, groups such as Extinction Rebellion had begun to open the masses’ eyes to new ways of thinking, but fast clothes, fast food, fast cars, fast money and fast living were by and large the values that people still held true.

Fast forward over 100 days since lock down began, and values are beginning to take on a whole new meaning. As governments struggled with their responses, the public began to make their own value judgements. Purpose, community, the environment and social conscience rose ever higher up the value chain. And as the masses sort change, so investors began to embrace Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance more seriously with experts predicting that this time there will be no turning back. Faced with such moral questions, alongside science and data, governments have also had to take heed of the role culture and values have played in policy making.

Understand and be upfront with your values

Now more than ever, we need to start at the beginning, not the end when shaping the brief. What I mean by that is that many briefs focus on the commercial end goal right up front forgetting why or how the brand, company or product exists. Giving an agency the context of the journey, the why and how and the values the company was founded upon, will paint a far richer picture in their minds of the challenge ahead – and help to stress test if the brief is routed in real and authentic values in the first place.

Brief stress testing doesn’t have to be stressful

At Fanclub we abide by three simple values that govern how we approach work, each other and the clients and partners we work with. These same values are questions we can ask ourselves before placing fingers on keyboards.

Be better - if you want to change the world, start by making your bed – does the brand or product really stand up to the culture and values of the audience? Don’t go preaching if you can’t preach from a place of mutual belief.

Be compassionate - being nice gets you  nowhere everywhere  - if there is one quality that has shone during the pandemic, that is empathy. Premier’s such as Jacinda Ardern have been rightly lauded for their compassion and empathy in dealing with their response. Empathy towards our fellow humans and the environments we live, work and play within has been heightened during lockdown. Brands are expected to display real compassion and understanding of the cultures and values of their consumers not just play lip service.      

Be proactive - Good things come to those who wait go out and earn it – People want change. Civil movements are arguably as strong now as they have ever been. Social media only amplifies that momentum. Broadcasting intent is only one step in the right direction, by actively demonstrating change you can rightly join in the conversation.    

If you’d like to pick up the conversation about how we can add real value to your brief, just drop us an email at

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