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CREATIVE BRIEFS: THE UNSUNG HEROES OF ADVERTISING

Julie Ward
Advertising Accounts Supervisor
  Back To All

Humans have shorter attention spans than goldfish (sadly, this is a scientific fact), so as advertisers, we must deliver memorable messages quickly. We can’t expect our creative teams to perform this magic without proper direction. That’s where our hero, the creative brief, comes into play.

A creative brief includes the most vital information – the who, what, when, where, and why – needed to complete a creative assignment. To clients, a brief ensures the agency understands their vision and priorities. To a designer or art director, it’s the launching point for creative concepting and a gut check for ideas. To an account executive, the brief is the most valuable tool to keep the creative team inspired and on task.

Here are a few top tips for developing and delivering a creative brief that inspires:

Developing a Brief

Do Some Digging

Before you even think about the brief, have a conversation with your client to understand the origin of the request, the reason it is important and what success ultimately looks like. Review the information at your disposal, do some initial research and be prepared with the right questions to get the answers you need. Ask for examples of what the client likes and brands they admire. Push them to think differently.

Translate “Client Speak”

If a client provides specific creative direction, it can be tempting to simply copy and paste it into your brief template. Don’t! Remember that your clients and creative team often speak different languages, and it’s your job to understand both. 

Be Brief

This may seem obvious, but focus on brevity when developing a brief. Albert Einstein said, “If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough.” As the account lead, it is imperative that you become the in-house expert on your client. So instead of sharing all the research and resources you have at your disposal, pull the key insights that can inspire an impactful campaign.

Give Yourself Time

One of the biggest reasons for scope creep and project overages is a poorly developed brief. Good briefs take time and thoughtfulness. Block out your schedule, change your surroundings and get in the zone.

Get a Second Set of Eyes

The creative brief is the North Star for each project, so pass it to a colleague to make sure the content is easy to understand and the directives are clear. Creative directors often require review of briefs before they are shared with the larger team. Take their feedback with gratitude – it will only make your brief better.

Delivering a Brief

Anticipate Questions

After you put the finishing touches on your brief, look at it with a set of fresh eyes, and try to anticipate questions that might come up during your kickoff with creative. Have answers to those questions in your back pocket. Demonstrating that you have done your homework will push the creative team to do their best work.

Present the Brief Face-To-Face

Nothing squashes creativity like a long, boring email. Use an in-person creative kickoff meeting as an opportunity to get the brainstorm going. Walk through the brief, offer insights and ask the creative team if there is anything missing in the brief that they need to get started.

Keep it Short

There’s a reason TEDTalks are only 18 minutes. Studies show that we stop paying attention after 18-20 minutes. Since we’re in the business of billable hours, it’s important for every minute to count. Limit kickoff meetings to 30 minutes, and preserve your budget for brainstorming and creative development.

Inspire and Excite

Enthusiasm is contagious, and this is your opportunity to rally the troops. Sure, not every project is a dream project, but every project has the potential to inspire. Whether you’re kicking off a small program print ad or a multimillion-dollar media campaign, demonstrate the impact the assignment can make for your client, for their consumer or even your agency. And if all else fails, bring cupcakes.

 We want to hear from you! Share your tips, challenges and questions about creative briefs with us on Twitter at @DEVENEYnola using the #DEVchat hashtag.

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