(A tip of my hat to my old friend Frank Quadflieg, EVP/Creative Growth Catalyst, at Bolin Marketing for inspiring this post.)
The popular understanding of the word alchemy is the transformation from one substance, say stone, into another substance, usually gold.
I'd say that's a pretty darn good definition of what a creative brief can achieve.
It all depends on you, the brief writer.
How grand a promise does your brand make? Can it reach higher? Could it promise more?
How deep can you penetrate the heart of your brand's zealot? Or the heart of the one who's perched on the edge of trying it for the first time?
In my experience, the typical answer to these questions is, "I dunno, we'd need tons of research and the client doesn't want to spend the money."
I'm not belittling research. On the contrary. I'm challenging that kind of narrow thinking in the absence of a research budget. You may never get the research budget you want or need. But that can't and shouldn't stop you if you know how to make the most of the creative brief.
The brief isn't a box. It's a door with a sign on it reading, "I dare you to enter."
Just about every creative brief template I've read has all the right questions that can lead you and your team to bigger, more exciting transformational places for your brand. The question is, are you willing to take the time and energy to arrive at bigger, more exciting transformational answers?
Most briefs ask a question along these lines: "What is the single-minded message we want to communicate?"
What if you proposed this response (doesn't matter what the brand is):
"Brand X will let you live forever."
Riiiiiight. You can just see the product manager's face now, can't you?
Can you defend that statement? Can you substantiate it?
Hmm. Probably not.
But remember, you're working on the creative brief. This is the I dare you part.
My advice is to ask yourself, "Okay, so if I can't promise immortality, how close can I get to it and still have a believable brand message?"
I can't answer that one. You're the brief writer, not me.
My mission is to open your eyes to the possibilities the brief gives you.
Your job is to take the dare.