Not those kind of briefs. We did a pun.
Briefs of any description are hard to write and creative briefs come with their own certain challenges. Having laid our eyes on hundreds over the years, we wanted to share some insight as to best practises when it comes to briefing in your creative resource.
It’s not often we talk about the brief writing process between agency and client. Nor do we often talk about the true value of an excellently written brief for ensuring your creative agency truly understands what you want, think you want and what you need.
It’s important for agencies to remember that quite often, creative briefs are the product of multiple meetings, visions and contributors. We are unconditionally grateful to clients who take the time to calibrate these moving parts and turn them into a focused instruction.
That said, having pondered the issue for several misappropriated moments this afternoon, we wondered if some of our nearest and dearest can on occasion miss a trick in trying to be too specific and technical with creative briefs.
There are no shortage of examples of this. Some may wish to create an omnipotent and omnipresent network of self sufficient, user-centric microcosms. (No shit, that’s from a real brief). Others may seek ideation to make the transformative paradigm of future proofing their DNA via bespoke, organic guerilla social campaigns a tangible option for their brand evangelists.
This kind of thing can be a bit cringy but the reason for briefs being over-written is utterly understandable. Distilling a creative vision is tricky, (really tricky). it is in part the job of creatives – both client and agency side to do a kind of Scooby-Doo trick where we lift the mask on the elusive creative vision and give it a face, name and frame of reference – so that the it becomes tangible, no longer something we chase, but touch.
So, If verbalising a creative vision is tricky, then communicating one to a third party and ensuring they understand its business benefit is plain difficult. As such, we have jotted down some pointers for anyone who is about to communicate with their creative agency on a complex project. It might have wide reaching macro-societal implications, it might be the product of a noted cultural trend harmonising with a biz dev strategy, it might be because the director saw a competitor doing something similar so now she wants to. What’s the best way to make us aware of these things? Let’s see.
1. Hard facts firsts
Naturally, Creatives get out of bed to trawl through archives of pop culture artefacts, racking the recesses of their imaginations for inspiration and generally making cool shit from stimulating ideas. However, they can’t even begin to do that without knowing the rules of engagement. What’s the deadline? What are the key milestones? What’s the budget? What assets are available? Do you need an NDA in place? Is this exploratory or a green light as a live project?
One might be surprised to learn how often these questions are thought of as rhetorical and considered an after-thought. Creatives literally can’t start inspiring you with their moves until they know what the game is. If you are about to pick up the phone to brief your creative resource without knowing the answers to these as fact, then chill a while – you probably aren’t quite ready to yet.
2. What’s the dream? (not the goal)
Any good creatives will, in good time, need to know about the detailed mechanics and goals of a campaign. Although, a great creative agency will want to know these only after they fundamentally understand the purpose of expending the energy and resource. This is not about the specific campaign objectives. It’s not about the number of Instagram or Facebook likes. It’s not about the ‘litness’ of your Reddit. These things may be symptoms of success, but attributing more value to them than the ‘big idea’ is a-kin to thanking the kitchen windows for the beautiful countryside (a bit backwards).
Bring the vision right back to it’s most basic form, irrespective of platforms or metrics and in verbalising the dream – shoot to describe the ambition in the most minimalist way possible- for example:
”We want to remind everyone how much fun it is to shoot your mates with Nerf guns and we are going to do a massive UK road trip to do it” Perfect, got it.
This makes sure the agency is in line with the founding vision and can feed off your passion, not be laboured by tricky mechanics, quantification or logistics too early.
3. Skip the jargon
You read, they read, they know words, you know words. Words are pretty cool and like many things in life a long one is sometimes one of the best ones. (Gross).
What never helps though, is cliches. If your agency is helping design and create a new website that needs to work really well on an Ipad and show off certain levels of a new game to a certain group of people: wicked. Fight any temptation to ask your agency to quote on an innovative tablet-first digital experience that organically curates and releases targeted content.
As above, this will run the risk of muddying the thinking and limiting imaginations. This kind of language is sometimes misused, frequently misunderstood and far too often, not ultimately accurate to the objective.
4. Treat them like a Doctor.
This one may or may not be super obvious, but do remember two things, 1) you are keeping you agencies lights on a bellies full and 2), your agency are probably under NDA. Creative agencies live and die by their dependability. The chances of them airing out your dirty laundry are about the same as them tweeting their own- i.e. next to zero.
They can’t help you if they don’t know you. If your current marketing person is a super talented ass-hat, no trouble- good to know. If you have a Facebook page set up by a disgruntled customer dedicated to the fact that you club baby tortoises every Shrove Tuesday- again, tell them. Assuming you don’t do that, they won’t judge.
Whilst it can seem counter-intuitive to share the closeted skeletons of your business with a supplier, consider the Doctor analogy. The best way to help them help you cure your haemorrhoids is to show them your ass. You may even be surprised to find out how much the human, flawed parts of your business give rise to inspiration,
That’s it! We think these 4 simple points are worth considering for anyone who is wondering how best to brief in their creatives. If you have any feedback, let us have it!
(Any feedback written in deliberately opaque and complex clichés in the pursuit of comic irony will be enjoyed).