The creative brief is like a letter to an audience of one.

Creatives tend to zoom in on the single-minded proposition when the creative brief is handed out. It’s our natural tendency to ask, “What’s the key message?”
But who we speak to is equally important. When we know who we are addressing, knowing how to craft the right message becomes easier.

It falls on your shoulders as the brief writer to provide not only the right information about the who and the how, but also to remember that our job as communicators is to rely on fundamentals: by talking clearly, directly and passionately. You can’t achieve these goals by speaking to an audience of millions or even thousands. Your brief must be a kind of letter directed to an audience of one.

The movie director Steven Spielberg is reported to have said, Steven-Spielberg

My success comes from making movies for the masses, but I talk to them one at a time.

This thought neatly sums up an inspired creative brief. Or put another way, if a brief is assembled well, its content offers the creative team unique insights into the individual who would purchase the product or service being sold by the advertiser.

If a creative brief speaks clearly, directly and passionately to the individual, it speaks to the masses.

How? Stop thinking of the creative brief as a document and start thinking of it as a letter. A personal letter from the advertiser to one person who, based on your knowledge of the product, seems most likely to value the advertiser’s product.

Talk to her. Find common ground. Flesh her out with hard-earned research, common sense, your insights into her thinking and the life she leads. Draw a word picture of who she is and let that inspire you to infuse the creative brief with a real conversation.

Don’t talk to the masses. Engage with an individual.

Don’t fill your brief with bullet points. Embody it with living, breathing details, the details that are the stuff of real life.


A creative brief is too often the captive of institutionalized thinking. You must not allow this to happen. The brief is too often filled with business jargon and product-ese. It’s your job to prevent this.

Jon Steel, author of Truth, Lies and Advertising, said, “Engage your consumers, don’t target them. Make them willing accomplices.”

It’s the difference between sitting on opposite sides of a table and looking across at one another. Or sitting next to each other, able to connect by physical touch.

The creative brief that engages with a single individual as if it were a personal letter is perhaps the single most important insight the creative team could ask for.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Verified by MonsterInsights