scott’s brain

how to write a great creative brief


Is your agency thinking about you in the shower?

From a marketing point of view, your brand is the most precious thing in the world.

It defines your business, drives sales and often is the corner stone of your culture.

So when you brief your agency, have you ever stopped to think about how you can emotionally put your brand first in the minds of those who have been charged to refine, drive and promote it.

And I mean first. Ahead of other clients they are working on. Ahead of personal relationships and ahead of their favourite sporting team.

Being first means that you will be dominating thinking not just inside the agency’s walls, but outside, where the real magic often happens.

You might say: ‘Hey, I thought every brief should be given first place?’ Professionally you are right, but the truth is we are all human, and we all have favourites, even if those favourites fluctuate from time to time.

Everyone I know in our industry wants to be excited about every brief and I truly believe that if clients put enough thought into their briefing that every task should be.

It doesn’t matter how big or small the task, the brief that initiates it should always be very considered and stimulating.

After all, it’s the brief that sets the scene and is an important foundation stone for the ongoing health and performance of your brand.

Getting the brief right will shoot you to No.1 emotionally. It will take the thinking on your project from the conscious to the sub conscious mind and get everyone exploring solutions at the gym, in bed and in the shower, the results of which are mostly rich in insight and creativity.

Passion is infectious

You have to be passionate if you want everyone else to be.

If you believe, we’ll believe. And if you love it, chances are we’ll love it too.

To get anyone to fall in love, you must project passion and that starts with the brief.

If you want something surprising and unexpected, start with an unexpected and surprising brief.

Briefing in the park, in the factory, on a boat or on top of a high city building will all make for something fresh and engage the team.

If you can’t get out, a simple prop or alternate meeting point in the office will create a point difference and signal the start of a new opportunity.

Music, film reference, fashion and other art will all set the scene and give great tonal cues about the brief.

Do what you like, but remember, the more you give in the brief, the more you’ll get back later on.

Encouragement goes a long way

Always encourage, never talk negative or put down.

A great way to start any brief is to say, ‘I want this to be great and for you to be proud of the work you’ve created.’

‘Woo hoo’ is what you should be reading on the faces from the creative and strategic team, because that is what they want too.

If you start a brief purely on the negatives of your brand or the difficulties of the project at hand, it will start the process off on the wrong foot.

Turn thoughts of a small budget into a challenge.

When faced with a David and Goliath situation, know that with different thinking that David can make a huge impact on your competitors.

If deadlines are tight, make that part of the game. See how many great ideas we can come up with in the time.

Don’t threaten.
Don’t bring up issues of the past.
Don’t think impossible. Think possible.

One of the best campaigns I’ve worked on had:

  • No budget
  • No time
  • A much bigger competitor

Yet the work created for The Sunday Age achieved:

  • Tough sales targets
  • Deadlines of 3-5 hours for each execution
  • Disruption with customers, especially on talk back radio
  • Honors, making it one of the most highly awarded newspaper campaigns in Australia

All because our smart client encouraged and partnered us in the briefing and appreciated the challenge ahead.

Detail. Detail. Detail.

Detail paints a bigger picture.

Lack of detail makes any brief thin and quite frankly disappointing. While too much detail can drown a brief.

So where do you find the balance?

When writing your brief think that you are writing directly to your customer.

Why would they consider you?

What have you got that supports your claims?

What is the passion point? The point where they just have to buy you. parts of the brand will your customer need to recognise and contact you? Logo, web address etc.

What fine print do they need?

Doing this will allow you to talk openly about all of the important facts that you want your customer to take in and the solid facts that support them.

Please include all of the vital mandatories. This can simply be provided in document form where the detail can be studied as the strategic and creative process kicks off.

It’s good to know all of this right from the start.

Giving mandatories might make you feel you are putting your agency in a straight jacket. Don’t. A tight detailed brief with clear mandatories really focuses thinking and sets up boundaries. As long as you give your agency some room to wriggle, they should come up with something that is bang on brief and blessed with magic.

by posted in scott’s brain



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