How Ham & Robot Love Lead to Great Creative

Five Tips for Great Creative Briefs

Creative briefing is something we do (or should do) on a regular basis, and we all know how crucial it is to producing stellar creative work. But it’s frighteningly easy to get stuck in the grind and start cranking briefs out (or start watching Jason Mraz videos online) – rather than taking the time to make your briefs insightful and inspired. The five following tips for writing great creative briefs will get you back on track.

If you can’t see a tree or butterfly, you’re doing it wrong.

Just kidding. You don’t have to see a tree or butterfly or a cat with a butterfly on it. But, for real, I recommend that you leave your desk for a bit and ponder. (Pondering is the fun version of thinking.) This is important because for a brief to be effective, it must offer a perspective on the true goal of the creative work and how that fits into the larger strategic plan for your client.

robot loveMachines cannot show or experience love, and hence cannot produce good creative.

I realize that hearing this shocking news might be a bit disappointing. If so, you may take a moment to grieve. (Patient pause.) Now that you are all cried out, let me just say that this information, though hard to accept, is helpful for briefing. Computers will not be creating this work, people will. So don’t just send your creative brief to them through the computer and expect great work to pop back out in a few days like some magical slot machine. Call them or go talk to them.

Obama and HamWhen it starts to feel like awkward family Christmas, you’re on the right track.

You know that moment where your Uncle Glen says bitterly, “Well, Obama’s done it again,” and then a college student says, “That’s easy for you to say because you’re rich and old,” and then there’s a large tension where everyone else is trying to decide whether to voice their opinion or say something about the ham? When you feel that while writing a creative brief, it’s a sign you should dig deeper. Are two things contradicting or creating friction? What does that tension mean? What is it telling you strategically? This is the place where creative briefs start to get really interesting. Do not talk about the ham. Get involved.

Your middle school frenemy, Patricia, is finally useful.

You know how it feels to have an enemy.  They stand for everything you hate, and they steal your boyfriend, Chad. Brands have enemies, too. Greenpeace has those harpooners and the guy with the nets. Seventh Generation has products and practices that leave our planet worse off than we found it. My hippie vibe is starting to creep in, but you get the point. Who is the enemy? You’ll be surprised at how clear the way forward becomes once you can answer this question.

Our five-point social currency strategy will bolster brand equity and…

Wait, WHAT did you just say?! Do you even know? If your mother couldn’t understand it, you need to take a step back and reconsider just what it is you are trying to say. Jargon is the siren of the marketing world. You are desperately drawn to it because it makes you feel smart. But then you face a watery death because it quickly becomes unclear and unfocused. It sounds great during the briefing meeting and in writing, but then people leave and go, “Wait a minute. What?” Ditch the jargon. Plain speak is as refreshing as a dip in the ocean (sans death by dangerous and beautiful Greek mythology).

The bottom line is that great creative briefs take time, work, blood, tears and sometimes (always) eating donuts or cheese. But they are also a great opportunity to be creative, learn and think strategically. They are the crucial contribution to the process that your team needs in order to do their best work. Challenge yourself to follow the tips above. Christmas may get weirder, but your creative work will get better.

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