Perhaps one of the least discussed creative process tools in industry debates and recognitions is the good old “brief”. That sheet of paper (or digital document) which someone joked as perhaps the next , if not the most important agency document after the agency invoice!!
The brief is really the bridge between reams of strategy and a simple inspiring and differentiated creative proposition.
Question is, are we doing enough to this all important piece from which the creative leapfrogs, or is there room for more?
When it comes to time spent on the creative brief, it clearly runs into weeks, if not months. Concepts are generated, consumer groups done across the length and breadth of the country.
The average time taken from the inception to generating the final proposition takes nothing less than four to six weeks .
Rigour can be endless if only we had the luxury of time.
What happens as a result of fine tuning the strategy over months is that the creative time is seriously shortchanged. Especially since the entire project creation lifespan has shrunk to less than a month and a half on an average.
Maybe things will be a little different if we restore the brief to its original glory.
To start with, a brief is not a summary statement of data and market challenges. It is a document meant to inspire. The agency has to push back the client on agreeing on the single most differentiated proposition the brand can claim and deliver. Adding 'Ten Reasons to Believe' means a product window flooded with supers and breathless VO delivery without creating any impact.
The entire brief generation time has to be seriously crunched. It cannot take more than the creative development and production time. Which means working towards the differentiated proposition from day one with no room for trial and errors.
There’s more that can be done to elevate the brief to an exalted status.
Like, apply the tried and tested Awards on briefs as well.
Best Brief Award. This could be an external award forum or just an internal recognition in the agency.
Have a co-creation with the creative team as well so that the thinking starts off earlier and inputs can be built in instead of rejecting the brief . Or worse still, coming up with an idea which is off brief.
Ensure that the brief is rich in Inspiration- other ads, movies, real life examples, quotes etc
(most good briefs do have this but am still making the point)
If possible, have briefing sessions at an external venue, make it an event.
Simplicity, 30 second communication , 'Keep it tight', applies to briefs as well. If we keep the proposition simple and crystal clear, we will have communication that reflects it.
Be ruthless about Focus. With clients. Internally. The hardest thing in life is elimination and less is definitely more here.
Finally, to all my account management colleagues, peers, seniors, and juniors- Brief writing and strategy is our responsibility as well. It shows our knowledge on the brand, the challenges and opportunities and our passion for actively contributing towards great creative. It is what we should love working on. And spend quality time on.
So here’s to a resurgence of great inspiring briefs.
Like they say “The creative brief is the first ad in the campaign.”
It sure is.
The views expressed are the author's independent views as an ad professional and do not reflect the organisation's viewpoint.