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There are four words that get an agency firing on all cylinders like no other: Make us stand out.
Typography: The words "Make us stand out" in blue are placed over a yellow and magenta background

It’s pretty simple: Put those words in the brief and you get folks actually excited to work for you. Your team will dig deeper, stay up later, push themselves harder. Because at the end of the day, we want breakthrough work as much as you need it.

Those four words are the simplest way to get the best bang for your buck. But you have to be sincere. If I see those words in a brief, I’m going to ask myself, “Do they really mean it?” And when it’s backed up with an emphatic YES? Goosebumps.

And include your “Why?”—both for you and for us. You don’t just want edgy for edgy’s sake. Maybe you’re a small challenger brand trying to stand out against the big budgets. Or you’re talking to a super cynical audience and need breakthrough honesty. Or you’re drowning in the sea of sameness. Or maybe—hopefully—something even more personal that’s at the core of your company and brand.

Whatever your “Why?"—don’t let it get lost. It will help you and your agency stay the course. So go ahead and put that reason in the brief. Maybe even hang it on the wall.

I once had a client tell me, “I’m a little nervous to share this work with the board. But I know that’s a good thing.” And it was.

Here are some more tips to help us create great work together:

Align with us.

The best work is 100% on-brief. Because the best briefs are 100% on point. So don’t just rubber stamp that bad boy. Dig in and make sure you dig it. Make sure it has the winning insight, and then when the work brings that insight to life, it will really shine.

Be brave with us.

Remember that ad that made you feel really safe and comfortable? Yeah, I don’t either. The best way to innovate and create something really memorable is to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. And it’s better to take a risk than to risk being forgotten.

Trust us.

We’re in a relationship, and all good relationships are built on honesty and trust. Sometimes a cocktail will help, but mostly it’s the honesty and trust thing. Or as a client once said: “I pay you good money to know this stuff better than me, so tell me when you think I’m wrong.”

Laugh with us. 

This one is pretty self-explanatory. (I hope.)