Writing Creative Briefs

18 May

The first piece of advice someone gave me for writing creative briefs was: “Be creative and be brief.” Since then, I’ve learned other ways to improve my writing of this important agency document.

Write in the tone of the brand
If you want the creative concepts to be on brand, it helps to make the tone of the brief on brand.

Describe useful information about the target audience
What’s more evocative – “The audience is skewed age 65+, with household income of $40-80,000, and is 57% female.” Or “The audience feels 20 years younger than their true age, would rather pay more than request a seniors’ discount, and the last thing they want is another doctor’s appointment to intrude on their busy day.” A profile of one typical person in the target audience (“Sally is a…”) can also work well, as can photos, or a direct quote of this person’s feelings (“I don’t want…”).

Build a concise brand personality
How could one brand personality possibly have 37 adjectives to describe it? Keep the number of adjectives down, keep them consistent for each brief, and mention which adjectives you might want stressed for each particular project. Avoid conflicting descriptions such as “bold, yet conservative” that will leave creative teams mystified. And don’t use marketing terms like “value driven” as adjectives, stick to actual words that you’d use to describe a person.

Be consumer-centric
What do consumers care about? Put that in the brief, not a grocery list of product features that only matter to the client.

Capture human truth
Consumers make irrational decisions all the time. We’re human! Make sure our emotional side is in the brief.

Get to the point
Background research often plays an important role in brief writing, but the creative team doesn’t need to see it all. Leave out the SWOT analysis and quantitative research summary you used to arrive at your core insight.

Avoid details
Everything you put in the brief should be fodder for concept development. Big blocks of legal and other small details don’t belong. Reference them in the brief and put them in a separate document.

Run the brief past someone in the target audience
Worthwhile to do if you can find the right person.

Creative teams are busy people, just like consumers, so be concise with this document. Cluttered briefs could end up ignored, or lead to cluttered ads that consumers will ignore.

Next, presenting creative briefs.


2 Responses to “Writing Creative Briefs”

  1. dougbrowncreative May 19, 2010 at 10:30 am #

    This should be essential reading for anyone tackling the daunting task for the first time. The only thing I would add to this comprehensive run-through is to have fun with it. If you can’t have fun writing a creative brief, you’re probably not cut out for the business. Nice one!

  2. chrisjgwilson May 19, 2010 at 12:17 pm #

    I feel like we should be paying for this advice…

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