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The creative brief project- day 2

February 10, 2011

creativebrief

A huge thank you to those of you who promoted the debate on Twitter and to PSFK for helping it reach a larger audience.

On Day 2 of the Creative Brief Project, we’ve got a nice little discussion going.

I am keen to turn this into something concrete, so I will endeavor to interpret the cogent points of the arguments to date.

1. All planners do is debate, get on with the work

Maybe the project just confirms the worst suspicions of the Planning Community- good at talking, but not so good when it comes to getting things done.

Some truth here, but can we create a different outcome for this debate?

2. It’s not about the brief

A lot of commentary around the pre and especially the post parts of briefing. In the minds of many, these parts matter much more and eclipse the single piece of paper. The brief is just the start of the process, but it needs a collaborative discussion to gain traction, trust and only then can ownership be transferred to the team.

The brief should not be the fetish object.

3. It’s a dated format

A feeling that the current format is out of touch with the reality of contemporary communication, it needs to be urgently refreshed and maybe every time it’s written. Another problem could be that it’s a form that gets “filled out” and it’s written to be reductive. So, by eliminating a range of possibilities, it presents the answer, rather than a number of doorways.

4. The brief is fundamental

Without one, everyone is lost. People need guidance in an increasingly complex world to help explain what they need to do.

5. It’s all about the thought

A brief needs a single-minded idea, it’s meaningless with it.

6. It’s all about the writing

Write well and write with passion and it might even get read.

7. It’s clients, not briefs

Creating great work is not an internal exercise, it demands clients who have a taste for risk. Could better briefs help creatives sell better and more interesting work?

Great points, all very useful and entirely relevant- they help us to think about how the brief could and should change.

A big observation from all this has been the silence and lack of insight about the creative community.

How many products are produced in any industry that go to market without a thorough understanding of their audience?

Surely, if the Creative Department is your most important audience, shouldn’t you know what they want/demand and how they operate?

Of course, there are many intangibles at work here- it’s about individuals, individual needs, trust, personality and many other factors, but sadly what defines a good brief in minds of creatives is often binary- it’s either great, or worthless.

However, there have to be so many points in-between; turning a client brief that has multiple objectives and targets, into something focused has huge value for a creative team, this might not be the gold standard or truly great, but it has to be so much better than what went before. Just think of the time that could be saved by applying discipline to this alone.

Surely, it’s a valuable discussion to define ways and come up with “creative” ideas to make “The Creative Brief” better.

So, what do creatives need to make great communication? Can you ask one today and let me know their response?

Finally, I know this is a sensitive topic, but we are in an age of collaboration where multiple teams get together with the goal of creating greatness, I want to believe that Account Planners, at their best, play a critical role in making great things.

However, I find it strange and problematic that in every interview I have ever read with creative teams about their work, it’s very rare that there’s a mention of the contribution made by the Account Planner and “The Brief”.

I know the best planners and selfless and generous and most don’t have egos, but you would have thought over the past 20+ years, the best and brightest, whose thinking made something of a difference, would have got some credit.

If anything comes out of this, rather than just hot air and talk, it would be fantastic if more brilliant creative briefs/briefings were birthed and their collaborators got just a bit of credit for their contribution.

This isn’t about winning a Jay Chiat Award, even though that’s pretty cool. 

Posted by Ed Cotton

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