How to brief a brand review

We were recently at a market engagement day where the question was: “how should we brief a brand review?”

A great question. Let’s take this a step further.

How do you write a brief in a way that makes every agency want to get their hands on it?

A brief that gets the best agencies out of their office and into your boardroom. A brief that’s the envy of every strategist from London to New York. And the top designers in the agency are competing for.

Here are our suggestions: define the problem not the solution, make sure you and all stakeholders are committed, and be clear about the type of agency you’re looking for.


1. Define the problem, not the solution

You’re writing a brief for a brand review because you are facing big brand challenges and evaluating your entire brand strategy. It’s easy to start discussing solutions, but this is not the right time.

Not because you don’t have good ideas about how to solve your challenges (who would know better than you), but because a true partnership depends on co-creation. And your partner of choice will want to bring something to contribute. If you’ve already formulated the solution, you’ll only be accessing a fraction of what they have supplied.

Think of the brief as the beginning of the conversation.

Use it as an opportunity to create hunger in the market. Not because you’ve handed them a solution to execute, but because you’ve presented them with a level 99, final boss of a brief to knock out. Ambitious creatives and strategists won’t be able to resist throwing everything they have at something like this.

And you might find that, given a blank slate, they provide more than you antipated.


2. Make sure you’re ready for a brand review

Who will be involved in agreeing your new brand identity or campaign? They should be consulted as early as possible, to help answer key questions that determine the viability of the project.

Here’s what our client Kris Gremmel, Head of Marketing & Commercial, at World Triathlon advises:

Before you start, know if you can finish. Is the organisation ready? Is there a clear timeline and reason to take this on? Are internal stakeholders lobbied and on side? Do you have clear, shared goals? And can you pay for it?

Once that’s all in place – then you’re ready to start

Agencies spend £11K on average per pitch. And 33% of lost pitches are a result of withdrawn budget. [source] This is avoidable and is the result of a lack of commitment from the beginning.

If agencies sense your brief is an exploratory exercise, they will hold back their best people and resources.

If this is the stage you are at (determining if a brand review is right for you) there are other options than requesting pitches and proposals. For example, bring a few agencies into the boardroom to talk through examples of their work and the outcomes it produced. Or consider running a diagnostic exercise first, such as our brand therapy session, which delivers a preliminary report to help inform your brief. Both approaches will help start a conversation with senior decision-makers.


3. Be clear about the type of agency you’re looking for

Typically, you’re looking for a few non-negotiables in an agency partner:

  1. Are they able to do the job?
  2. Do they have a clear, repeatable process?
  3. Is there a good personal fit?

The first two aren’t that difficult to confirm.

Case studies in your industry with great outcomes and measurable achievements would confirm the first. And a logical, repeatable process outlined on their website would provide you with a bit of an idea of what to expect for the second one.

But then the third is not quite as easy.

Relationships work better when they’re seen as a partnership with each party clear on what they bring to the table. So, your brief should make it clear what qualities you are looking for in a partner.

The best way to get to personal fit is to make sure your brief makes it clear what you and your team are like. Then you will get responses from the types of agencies who are similarly inclined.

Make your workplace culture clear. If it’s intense and non-step. Or if it’s laid-back and friendly. The way we like to describe ours is positively serious. And we attract clients who have a pleasant personal side but are similarly focused about the work they do.

By broadcasting the personality of your company you will get more responses from the right types of agencies, who can not only do the job, but you enjoy working with.


Starting the conversation

In the end, writing a brief for a brand review is less about presenting a ready-made solution and more about initiating a strategic conversation. It’s about getting a group of creatives excited about your nuanced challenge. Including decision-makers from the start not only streamlines the process but ensures commitment, aligning the goals and resources necessary. This is not just about getting a job done; it’s about forming a partnership with an agency whose culture resonates with your own.

With these things in place, agencies will be lining up to respond.

With all of this said, now is a great time for a brand review.

If you’d like support in developing your brief, feel free to give our Growth Director, Karen Newbold, a call on: (+44) 1926 678368 or email her at

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