Strategy16 Mar 2021Karen Lee

Why do I need a brief?

Architects have blueprints, explorers have maps, creative teams – marketers, writers, designers, project managers – have briefs. In fact, the brief is the unsung hero of most successful projects.

Fun fact. I was a semi-finalist in Australia’s Got Talent (AGT) in 2019. I should add, with 349 others, as part of the Hummingsong Community Choir. For our semi’s performance, we had learned and rehearsed Let The River Run, a song first featured in the 1988 film Working Girl, with music and lyrics by Carly Simon and winner of the Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1989. We loved it. But the AGT producers didn’t and asked us to perform ColdPlay’s Viva la Vida instead. Our amazing Artistic Director, Anna, had just 2 weeks to pivot 350 Humming-songsters, 3 conductors, 6 musicians, and numerous helpers. I thought I’d use this experience to help explain how a brief galvanised our group of (panicked) individuals to produce an amazing outcome. 

I forgot to mention our semis time slot was also reduced to 2.5 minutes. That meant shaving 1.5 minutes off our Viva la Vida score. So, I thought I’d explain why you need a brief in a high tempo 2.5 minutes with the help of an acronym:

B = Budget

R = Results

I = Insights

E = Engagement

F = Focus

Here goes …


Budget is a necessary evil and important factor when considering the best solution. Too often the team will be told to go as big as they need in their proposal - when realistically the resources to make it happen were never going to be available. If you have a budget, be sure to underscore it in the brief, particularly if it is a strict one. This way you can agree upon realistic expectations, deliverables, and project costs before getting started - saving time and disappointment.

Anna didn’t have a budget so ensured she got the financial support of everyone involved first before committing to AGT.


Results are how your project will be evaluated in relation to the main goals you look to achieve. Typically there are two business metrics - the hard metric which is specific, attributable results, and the soft metric which tends to focus on engagement, conversations, interactions, awareness, and brand - the more "social" we become, the more the soft will be needed to generate the hard results. Another metric on the rise is the human metric where you may ask: What do we want to do for people, for humanity? Sharing all the results you seek ensures the team aligns on a pitch-perfect solution and the same outcome.

Anna’s goals were, in order: Have a fun adventure together; Raise awareness for our cause; Attract new members. No hard numbers. It was a first for us all, so a test run. Let’s just say all Sydney choirs now have a waiting list, the first of 200 requests to start groups outside Sydney is now up and running and both of our fundraising end of year concerts were sold out.


Insights are not about reporting, but about unearthing. Observations and statistics tell us what people say and do. Insights tell us why and about human nature - what compulsions drive a person, what instincts dominate their action, what resonates with them emotionally. The why has the power to spark amazing ideas.

Nike example:
Observation: Not everyone aspires to be a competitive athlete.
Why? Insight: It’s not attainable or believable.
Idea: Find your greatness

Anna’s example:
Observation: We were going to be the biggest female choir ever to take the stage.
Why? Insight: Incredible singer-songwriters are almost a dime a dozen on TV talent shows these days - but a women’s acapella choir with a force in numbers and heart-warming back-story - Now that’s different.
Idea: Let’s bring the nation to tears.


Engagement is all about the specific person/s you want to reach most and connect with. Instilling a clear picture of that person in everyone’s mind and what makes them sing is the crux of creating a great experience for them.

For our choir, we wanted to attract women 45+ but also needed to win the hearts of the 4 judges to maximise our TV exposure. The song itself, Viva La Vida, is emotionally charged, being an interpretation of King Louis XVI’s last speech about regret before his death. But Anna’s briefing made us appreciate it would be how we internalised the lyrics and performed the song that would make the difference and connection we needed.


Focus is the critical starting point for any brief. Clearly stating what you want, require and/or need your particular project to achieve and why. This connects everyone contributing to the project and ensures they are beating the same drum, at the right tempo, while adding their unique voice.

For our choir, it may surprise you that our focus was not to win AGT but to raise awareness and funds for women and children escaping domestic violence and recruit new choir members. Anna’s brief helped us understand our individual stories and motivations needed to be our voice to reach the audience as much as our stage performance needed to impress the judges.

As you craft your brief keep these 5 reasons top of mind on how it will rally your team and create something great.

We never expected to make the semis of AGT or move so many people to tears. It was a crazy, emotionally charged experience for all of us. I watched in awe as Anna orchestrated everyone and everything and kept us focussed on our why, what and how we were going to “rule the world” for those 2.5 minutes on stage. 

Article by Karen Lee

Karen Lee is the lead Client Solutions team member at Belong Creative. She gets immense satisfaction helping resource-challenged marketing teams and business owners deliver their projects and bring their brand to life. She’s always up for an adventure be it on her bike, vicariously through a book or hiking with her Sole Sisters.