28 Feb 2013

7 Ways to Write Better Creative Briefs

"A brief is a labor of love. The planner should care deeply about every single word on the page."

Michael Chatfield • Creative Strategist @ Google

Brilliant creative work almost always begins with a killer brief. It's the planner's role to develop creative briefs filled with insight, consumer understanding, and inspiration for the team and for your clients. So, better briefs = better work! Simple, right?

But it's not easy. It takes hard work and passion. Here are some tips that I teach my students at Miami Ad School's Bootcamp for Account Planning:

1. Time: A smart, insightful brief doesn't (or more accurately, shouldn't) happen over night. Build a reasonable amount of days into your project timeline to allow your planner to dig in, understand the issues, and create a brilliant strategy. Everyone except you may want to short-change this part of the process. Take a stand and fight for more time.

2. Hustle: Odds are, you will be given input from your client that lacks inspiration. Maybe you'll be blessed with decks upon decks of quantitative and qualitative studies. YAYYYYY! Regardless of what input is given, as author of the brief, you need to add your own original research to the mix to ensure you know what is really happening with your target audience and unearth provocative insights. Get your hands dirty. Talk to your consumer. Record it on your iPhone. Create a Facebook poll. Be entrepreneurial with your research.

3. Creativity: The brief sets the tone for the work to come. The amount of creativity, inspiration, and flair you put into your brief will determine the reaction you get from you team and clients when you present it. Don't be boring! A creative brief should look like a document that creatives want to read. It should be engaging, visual, and colorful. In most cases, your brief should project the same tone and personality as what is expected from the creative work to come.

4. Craft: A brief is a labor of love. The planner should care deeply about every single word and picture that goes on the brief. Everything should have purpose. The creative license taken by the planner regarding choice of imagery/copy, naming of the target audience, and punchiness of key insights will directly impact how memorable your brief is.

5. Now-ness: Pop culture is currency. Your brief should ooze of relevant, recent stuff. Dig into what's happening in pop culture related to your brand, your category, or your consumer. Yes, I'm saying it's okay to put the latest meme on your brief as long as it's intended to inspire and provide insight into what appeals to your audience. But make sure you're ready to explain why it works, because you're the cultural expert!

6. Collaboration: I've never written a brief without collaborating with my Creative Director. At Partners + Napier, I had this amazing CD Pete Vonderlinn who would sit down at the table with me (literally, his kitchen table) and put as much heart and soul into the brief as I would. It's no coincidence that the creative work spawned from those briefs went on to win awards, and drive serious results.

7. Impact: Be dramatic and memorable in your briefing session. If you're briefing on whiskey, take your team to a pub. Give the assignment a remarkable name. "Project Rekindle" is a lot more inspiring than "Lapsed User Reacquisition Project". Get people excited and it will show in the work.

Pursuing a future in strategy? Learn more about Miami Ad School's Boot Camp for Account Planning.

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