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Hello, Kevin Namaky here. Today, we’re going to talk about the three things that all great creative briefs do. This is the first video in a new series where we’ll talk about creative brief writing and the creative development process required to create ads and communications for your brand. We’ll walk through all of the elements of great creative briefs and talk about best practices for writing each part of the brief. We’ll also talk about the creative development process and best practices along the way so that you get the outcome you need with your internal teams and with your agency teams.
Frustrations & Challenges
Before we dive straight into the three things that all great creative briefs do, I want to talk about some of the frustrations and challenges that tend to happen when we’re writing creative briefs and with the creative development process.
A lot of times, when we’re working with teams across brands, sometimes even within a brand, and definitely from the brand-to-agency side, we’ll have different formats for creative briefs which creates a lot of inconsistency and frustration. It creates confusion around the kind of information that you need or don’t need, and everyone is literally working from different pages.
Inconsistency in Writing
Even if you use a consistent template, you’ll have inconsistency in how those templates are used, inconsistency in understanding the key components of great briefs, and inconsistency in the skill of writing those pieces.
There’s often change of direction along the way. You may get direction at the outset of a creative process but then, at the middle or the end, the internal teams or agencies will feel like the feedback they’re getting is changing the direction and may not match what was initially in the brief.
Stakeholder alignment is often a key issue both up and down the organization. As a general rule of thumb, you want to align with stakeholders up to the point where the final product will be approved.
Even within a single meeting, it can seem like different stakeholders have feedback that conflicts and that can be frustrating.
Too Much/Too Little Information
Sometimes briefs can be too long, provide too much information, and therefore be unclear. In other cases, the brief doesn’t have enough information and, again, there’s a lack of clarity from too little information. You have to get it just right.
No Objective or Agreed Criteria
Lastly, there’s often no objective or agreed-on criteria in the brief for what good work looks like. How will we know, once work is presented, if that work is good or not? How will we know if it’s acceptable?
Three Things All Great Creative Brief Do
Now let’s dive into the three things all great creative briefs do that help address a lot of these challenges.
The first point on the model is the “S” which stands for strategic. All great creative briefs clarify the strategy and provide strategic direction. Without that, you cannot have a great brief and it’s very unlikely you’ll get a great creative product at the end of the day. It must provide strategic direction, and great strategy means making specific choices.
The “I” in the model stands for inspirational. Great creative briefs are inspirational. What I mean is that great creative briefs set an inspirational starting point. That is not to be confused with inspirational or creative language, which is a common mistake you see in creative briefs. Creative language, while it sounds attractive and might even sound close to something that’s executional, can cause a lot of issues because it may not be clear in intent. We want to set an inspirational starting point, but we want to avoid unclear and creative or executional language.
The last point here, the “A” stands for agreement. All great creative briefs serve as an agreement between the people who are requesting the work and the people who are actually going to do that creative work. Most often it’s the client-side requesting help from an agency. Here, the document serves as an agreement. Everyone must agree on what the strategic direction is, what our inspirational starting point is, and what the criteria are for how we will judge the creative work. Having that agreement aligned to all parties is very important.
There is no great creative brief that doesn’t do these three very important things. Every great creative brief is going to be a strategic inspirational agreement. Keep that in mind when writing your next creative brief.
Over the next few months, we’ll issue a series of these videos where we’ll dive deeper into how to write every key component of a great creative brief. We’ll also discuss best practices for the creative development process.
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Kevin Namaky is CEO at the Gurulocity Brand Management Institute, a marketing education company that trains and consults for notable brand teams including Kimberly-Clark, Scotts Miracle-Gro, Bolthouse Farms and Gorilla Brands. Kevin is a featured instructor for the American Marketing Association, lectures at the IU Kelley School of business, and has been featured in Ad Age, Forbes, Fast Company and the CMO Council. Previously Kevin worked for 20 years in the corporate and agency world growing notable brands. Follow/connect with Kevin on LinkedIn, TikTok and Twitter.