How to Break Down a Complex Copywriting Brief — with Examples
Because re-organising your client brief will give you better ideas.
So, you’ve won your first major client (yess!). You’ve accepted the project, can meet the deadline, you understand the deliverables and you’re happy with the fee. Ten minutes later and your email chirpily pings with the sound of the client copywriting brief (CB). You eagerly click it open — it’s 15 pages.
Let’s be brief
Not all CBs are equivalent to the length of a novella. Some will only be a few pages and others perhaps a few paragraphs, over email. In general, it depends on the size of the business.
SMEs will likely have shorter briefs that are focused on their specific project. Their copywriting briefs will likely cover the essentials (tone of voice, project task, about us) and you might even have to tease extra information (values, mission, vision) out of them over additional communication.
In contrast, global businesses will be interested in copy that aligns with the brand they have spent years building. Their CBs are usually much longer and might include visuals, social media posts, testimonials, key company messages and stakeholder quotes in addition to TOV details etc.
This article is a guide to breaking down these longer and more complex copywriting briefs.
Why you should always re-organise your CB
When I say re-organise, I mean take it apart and shuffle information around. Because CBs are not always put together in the best way.
I know some people who are happy to work with CBs as they are given them— they print them off, staple the sheets together and are happy to flap them around every so often, travelling to the back of the pile to find info about what they need to deliver and back to somewhere in the front again for details about tone of voice. But I find that difficult to work with.
It didn’t just slow me down, it destroyed my thinking momentum, which impacted the quality of my ideas.