Every successful project starts with a good brief. And every brief should be given a good shake. You never know what’s going to fall out.

Our clients value this process – it usually highlights new angles and opportunities. At worst it makes sure we really understand the brief. Like a pitbull in a butchershop, we don’t stop til we get to the guts.

The line of questioning varies depending on the brief and the brand, but there are themes that always come up. Whether you’re a creative, strategist or marketer looking to bullet-proof your brief, here are over 50 questions to ask yourself…

What is the brief aiming to achieve?

What do we want to happen … what do we want people to do?
Why do we want that?
Is it possible and what are the barriers?
How will success be measured?
Are KPIs already defined and, if so, can they all be realistically affected by this brief?
Is it clear which KPIs are the real priority? (focus is key!)
Are there any other potential outcomes (positive or negative) that haven’t been considered?
Is the belly as big as the eyes? (does the project have the senior backing, timescales and budget to make the impact it aims to?)

What’s the context for the brief internally (for the brand)?

What’s the brand’s big idea? Its focus? 
How does this project tie into that?
Where does this project fit in the full plan? What else is going on around it?
Is it co-reliant on any other project’s progress? 
Why is it happening now?
Has this been tried before? If so was it a success? What can we learn?
Are there any ongoing projects we can learn from or collaborate with?
Are all the right people involved and invested in the project?
Are there any politics around it?
Does this message complement or clash with anything else the brand is doing or saying just now? If so, why?
Does the brand have a clear visual identity and tone of voice?
Is there any good reason to deviate from that? (eg. is it a collaboration?)

What’s the context for the brief externally (for the audience)?

Firstly, do we know enough about the audience? 
What research is available and is it up to date and relevant?
What do the audience currently think?
What led them to think that? 
How deep-rooted are those beliefs or opinions? 
What are we looking to change or build on?
Why should people believe what we say?
What else is going on that could affect the way they think about this? (it could be a competitor offer, new technology, new regulations, cultural/behavioural trends, seasonal changes/events)

Is the medicine right?

Is the brief prescriptive of outputs rather than outcomes?
If so, where did they come from? Are they definitely right for the job?
Is there a better way to reach the audience?

What do we know?

What experience do we have of this type of project or industry?
What can we learn from previous work? 
What precedents are there for this type of project? 

What don’t we know?

What doesn’t add up or make sense?
What are we missing?
Who could help bring this project to life with knowledge we don’t have?