CEO And The Agency Brief

CEO and the Agency Brief

CEO And The Agency Brief

As a marketing manager, make sure that you give yourself and your brand and design agency every chance of success by managing the briefing and sign-off process tightly.

Sherpa’s CEO Gary Hendrickse, who has worked on both sides of the fence as agency client and agency, has the following advice:

  • Spend time working on your agency brief – that’s your responsibility as marketing manager. If need be, work with your agency but get it right and tight.
  • Get whoever is going to sign off the work presented by you and the design agency to formally sign off the agency brief BEFORE agency starts working on it.
  • Before the design agency presents their response to you and the CEO (or sponsor) take the sponsor through the brief again, reminding him or her of what they signed off in the agency brief (and more importantly, why).
  • When the design agency presents the work to you or the sponsor, go through the brief again and focus on (a) have they delivered to your brief and (b) will the work presented impact on your brand’s reputation or not. In other words, make sure that your sign off team remains very objective and focused. Get them into a tunnel. This is not the time for the CEO to come out of the closet as a graphic or digital designer.
  • If the CEO (or sponsor) begins a sentence with: “I’m by no means creative but …” then activate the fire alarm and evacuate because you’re in deep trouble!
  • Should there be hangers-on in the room, do not allow them to comment on creative work presented UNLESS they have a good understanding of the brief and a feel for the brand and design. It’s not their job.


Sounds ideal, but can this be done?

“I used to time how long it took the CEO of a large bank that I worked for to sign off agency work, often the creative for national media campaigns. The longest that he took was 90 seconds! It wasn’t because he was disinterested. On the contrary, he understood our brand DNA intimately so it was immediately evident whether the campaign was on-brand or not. Secondly, he had understood and signed off the agency brief so he was in tune with what we were trying to achieve. Last, he scanned for reputational risk.”

Sherpa Brand & Design Agency