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Hello, Kevin Namaky here and today we’re going to learn how to write the desired behavior—a critical component when writing creative briefs for agencies.
The Central Question When Writing a Desired Behavior
The desired behavior is one of the most important parts of a creative brief. It answers a central question, “What do we want the consumer to do?” Or, in other words, what is the response or action that we want to elicit from consumers as a result of our communication? I have our tips organized under a few buckets: things to consider, dos and don’ts.
Things to Consider When Writing a Desired Behavior
These are tips or questions you can ask yourself to help generate the information that will go into the desired behavior box.
Think about human actions and frame things as behaviors humans would actually take. For example, you wouldn’t want your desired behavior to be, “Buy more of our products.” That’s not really a human-centered interaction. We want to go beyond that and identify the behavior they would take that would result in more sales for us. It’s not simply to buy more of our products. I’ll show you an example in a minute to help bring that to life.
We also want to think about their current behaviors. It helps us identify the desired behavior if we think of the behavior they’re doing now that isn’t what we desire, and how that differs from what we do want them to do. Basically, before they see or hear any sort of communication from our brand, what are they doing? Think about that first. Then from there, think about what we want them to do or the action we want them to take as a result of the communication.
Things to Do In a Desired Behavior
These are tips that we want to be doing when we write our desired behavior.
Put simply: use verbs. You’d be surprised how many creative briefs get written without action words and without verbs in this section of the brief.
No Business Speak
We want to avoid business language. Instead, think in terms of the way a consumer thinks, feels, and acts.
Lastly, we want to identify one behavior—a single behavior or action—we want them to take.
Things Not to Do In a Desired Behavior
These are things to watch out for.
We don’t want a business objective in this section of the brief. We often get confused when writing briefs, and instead of writing a desired behavior or the communication objective, it ends up being a business objective. For example: driving trial, which is a business objective. That’s not an action that we want the consumer to take.
We don’t want to be vague, we want to be very specific as to what we want consumers to do.
Desired Behavior Examples
Here are a couple of examples that will help bring this to life:
File their own taxes. (current behavior)
This is a current behavior. What we’re doing here is translating the current behavior and contrasting it with what we actually want consumers to do. In this case, it’s a tax services firm, and the consumers they’re targeting file their own taxes. If that’s the current behavior, the desired behavior that we want out of consumers for a firm like this might be something like:
Switch to using our walk-in tax services. (desired behavior)
It’s important to note here that this is a very specific statement. We’re not just saying we want consumers to use our services or we want consumers to buy from us. We’re being very specific. We want them to go from filing their own taxes to using our walk-in tax services. This is a much better way to frame a creative brief.
The next example is a bit different. Imagine personal care categories, consumer products:
Using home remedies and making their own soaps. (current behavior)
This is the current behavior. Maybe this is a consumer that is interested in natural and pure products and they’re averse to using chemicals. So they make their own remedies and soaps, presumably because they may view it as being safer than the alternatives.
If this is our target audience’s current behavior, then a desired behavior might look something like:
Give up home remedies for our brand. (desired behavior)
We want consumers to go from using home remedies or making their own soaps, to giving up home remedies for our brand. This is specific and we have identified the exact action we want consumers to take that will result in more sales.
Try these tips the next time you write your creative brief and you’ll end up with a clear desired behavior to help make the creative work stronger.
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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.