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The Secret of Writing the Perfect Video Brief in 10 Easy Steps

We are pleased to announce that we are launching our blog where you'll be able to find useful information about all things video! You'll also find some actionable tips about video production, communication strategy, social media videos, motion graphics. etc.
As you may know, we started out in late 2016, and yet this is our very first blog. Since our founding, we’ve been developing a client-centered strategy that helped our business to be rated among the best video production agencies in the region. vandy has grown throughout these past few years, so it's time to tell the story!
We decided to address brief writing as our first topic because a good video brief is crucial to productivity.
Let's get down to it.
The word brief is volatile and can be an adjective, a verb or a noun. As you may guess, we are interested in the latter. To understand how to write a good brief, first, let's shed some light on what a brief actually is and why you need it. 
Simply put, the purpose of the brief is to inform, guide and serve as a reminder of what the project is about.
A well-thought-out brief is the backbone of every successful project. It contains all the relevant details that, if left out - can slow you down for days or weeks, perhaps even more. If you know how to approach brief writing, you'll be more productive because a detailed brief can mean the difference between meeting a deadline and missing one.
You may be wondering: why do I need a brief in the first place? Can't I just email them or tell them what I want? Hm, not exactly.
Let's say you're briefing an agency about an upcoming project. Naturally, you'd want to be as informative and as relevant as possible - outlining not only the project specifications but also the strategy and objectives that need to be achieved. 
Now, if you manage to cramp all of that into an email - then why not make it into a brief so your agency can actually share it with their team? A good brief connects people, ideas, and serves as a guide to each department based on the project specifications.
If you hate preparing briefs and you think they are redundant, just remember that you will waste significantly more time on unnecessary back-and-forth than you would waste on writing a brief. If your agency doesn't have all the details to share with their team - the entire process will be unnecessarily delayed.
But not only that - by sitting down and thinking everything through you may come up with some new thoughts or issues you need to address that would have been overlooked otherwise.
Now that we've covered why you absolutely need it, let's take a look at some of the most critical components of an agency brief template: 

1. What's your business/project about?

When briefing an agency, put yourself in their shoes - they don't have firsthand knowledge of you or your company.
That being said, each brief should contain some background info about your business and the project at hand, which would help your agency make abetter sense of who you are and what you want. 
For example, you should include some basic information about your brand, such as your value proposition, your missions, and goals as well as your competitors and strategic positioning.
Going deeper into the brief, add details about your project, as well as some measurable objectives - that is, Key Performance Indicators (KPI's) that will help you accomplish your goal faster.

2. Who is your customer avatar?

Who are you addressing? Your target audience is absolutely crucial to every aspect of your project. Defining your target audience is undoubtedly one of the most important steps which set the stage and tone for everything else that follows.
If you don't know who you're talking to, how can you know what to say and how to say it? Every successful video (or any other) campaign is tailor-made with a specific audience in mind, otherwise, it's a shot in the dark.
That means that we need to take a different approach to creating a video for an outdoor sports brand and to creating one for a classic watchmaking brand, for example. All because we are not targeting the same segment of customers.

3. What actions do you want to trigger?

Once you know who your target audience is, you need to be clear on what you want them to do once they see your message. What's the purpose of your project? What's your call to action?
For instance, if your goal is to spread brand awareness, then a good CTA would be something along the lines of: "Visit our website to find out more" or "Try our new product", depending on what the project is about. A well-crafted call to action will appeal directly to your audience, which increases your chances of closing that sale, expanding your fanbase, gaining more visibility, or whatever the objective is.

4. What's your style and tone of voice?

First, let's see what these elements mean.
Style in video can refer to textual or visual style. Textual style depends on your choice of diction, rhythm, sentence structure, length and so on. Visual style, on the other hand, is much like a book cover - it’s the first thing your viewers will see. This can range from colors to fonts, graphics and illustrations. To make a good first impression, make sure you choose something that is captivating but also consistent with your branding.
 The tone creates an atmosphere or mood for the story. Your tone can be humorous, serious, passionate, playful, sarcastic, etc. 
List any DOs and DON'Ts for your video. For example, if a certain tone, style or buzzwords are to be avoided, you should make that clear from early on. By reading the brief, your agency should be able to get a sense of the style and tone you are looking for. 
 The most important thing to remember is that both style and tone should match your branding guidelines, and even more importantly - they should appeal to your target audience.

5. What about actors and locations?

Do you have a location in your mind? Actors? Or would you leave all that to the agency to decide?
As a video production studio, we see this point often overlooked even though it's crucial. If your project needs actors and a specific location, you need to make this clear as soon as possible. If this is something you would like to leave to the agency to decide, then you need to say that in your brief so you're all on the same page from the start

6. Be specific about your expectations.

What are the key deliverables of the project? If we're talking about a video production brief, then you should list some specifics like aspect ratio, length, subtitles, etc. Some of these elements also depend on your budget and other things, so to make sure you are all in sync as far as the end-product is concerned be specific on what you expect. 
Summarize the essential elements into a few bullet points in your brief so you can all come to a mutual understanding of what's doable and what's not.

7. What's the timeline?

Don't forget to share the timeframe in which you want to see the results. Do tell your agency about any deadlines and milestones you would like to reach. Some projects need more time than others.
For instance, if you want a video that requires actors and shooting on different locations, you need to take that into account time-wise. Make sure you brief your agency about any critical deadlines that you need to meet. 

8. What price range are you comfortable with?

Time to get real and talk about the budget. Having a number in mind will help both you and your agency decide on what's doable and what's not. Depending on the scope of your project as well as your expectations you can set a fixed or an approximate budget so your agency can know what they're working with.
Talk it over with your agency and agree upon realistic expectations, deliverables, and project costs. Everything that takes time and effort has a certain price, and being upfront about your budget right from the start will save all of you precious time. Creative agencies will adapt their ideas to your budget and avoid losing your time (and their time) with unrealistic proposals.

9. How do you want to spread the word?

As they say - content is king, but distribution is queen! Distributing your content on relevant social media platforms is a must, but if you'd like to take it a step further and include, for instance, Facebook or Instagram ads, TV commercials or other forms of paid advertising make sure you mention that in your digital marketing brief template. This will also help with the negotiating of rights with music composers, models and other parties involved in the project. Creating a video is an essential piece of the puzzle, no doubt about it. But knowing how you want to spread the word about it is equally as important.

10. Got any references?

Last but not least, don't forget to list your or even your competitor's references. You can even list references from other industries that might seem unrelated but could help you communicate more clearly what you're hoping to accomplish with the project.

To sum up, here’s the digested version of easy 10 steps to a perfect agency brief:
  1. Context
  2. Target audience
  3. Key message
  4. Look & feel
  5. Actors & locations
  6. Deliverables
  7. Timeline
  8. Budget
  9. Broadcast
  10. References
 
By thinking through and planning these ten steps for your project, you'll be able to produce a film production brief that's not only comprehensive but also effective.
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