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How Good Briefs Spawn Great Creative

Posted on the 14 July 2015 by Marketingtango @marketingtango
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  • July 14, 2015
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How Good Briefs Spawn Great Creative

If you want multi-channel creative that’s relevant and inspired, your briefs, digital and otherwise, must live up to their name.

As integrated marketers know, a brief is an input document that describes a particular marketing or communication problem or objective. Generating leads, driving web traffic or inbound calls, increasing CTRs and building brand awareness are familiar B2B examples.

Briefs also give creatives other information to help shape and inform their work, such as goals, background, strategy and budget. Teams use this information as the foundation (and strategic rationale) for concepting and creating themes, headlines, copy, imagery and other campaign elements.

Most Briefs Aren’t

The big problem with briefs, says Fuel’s Chief Strategy Officer, Jeff Roach, is that most are too wordy, too constrictive or too tactical. Instead of inspiring creatives, briefs often paint teams into a corner and prevent them from doing great work. He offers integrated marketers these principles for building a better brief:

#1: Begin with an Insight

Make sure briefs include a ‘pure, simple, universal truth’–insight Roach says can “propel the big idea that can truly connect with the audience.” Ask questions like these to help surface some strategic nuggets:

  • What is your brand’s purpose for being?
  • Who loves your brand and why?
  • What emotional and practical needs does your brand fill?

#2: Illuminate the Problem

In the brief, zero in on the specific problem you’re trying to solve, says Roach, avoiding at all costs unnecessary clutter, jargon and convoluted language. And remember to be honest.

Are people ignoring your ads? Admit it. Is your messaging or value prop muddled? Say so.
Does your product have shortcomings? Don’t gloss them over. To propose practical, effective solutions, creatives must understand all strategic and tactical challenges.

#3: Keep Content ‘Open’

Once the universal insight and key issue are articulated, avoid the temptation to expound. “Remove as much rigid specification around tactics and channels as possible,” Roach cautions. “Review mandatories and keep only what is necessary.” Doing so, he says, will help the best ideas and strongest solutions shine through.

Briefly: the Movie

One of the most instructive and inspirational pieces we’ve ever seen on the role and value of well-conceived briefs is a 26-minute film aptly titled ‘Briefly.’ It’s a series of one-on-one interviews with several advertising luminaries, including John C. Jay, President at GX, Partner at Wieden + Kennedy, who perhaps sums up this whole brief-writing business best, by saying:

“The brief must inspire the people who are charged with solving the problem. Simplicity is everything. The more concise…the sharper the point of view about the problem, the better the work will be.”

For more ideas about improving your marketing’s emotional impact, visit our Case Study archive.

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