Five reasons why you don’t need a creative brief.

(Adapted from the second edition of How To Write An Inspired Creative Brief by Howard Ibach. Published by Juju Books, due in June 2015)
I have heard these rationale spoken out loud by real, flesh-and-blood, breathing people who claimed to be alive. I suspect you have heard them too. EPSON scanner imagePerhaps you have spoken them. You don’t need to raise your hand. You know who you are.

5. “The creative team is brilliant. They’ll figure it out.”

Maybe. If you’re lucky.

But experience tells me that very few people can just “figure out” a creative brief that inspires the desired results.

And even if you are lucky, that’s still no guarantee.

Your creative team may be very good at what they do in terms of divining creative ideas that sell. But passing the buck on the creative brief sets you up for huge problems.

4. “Everyone knows what we want to do.”

Yeah, your people are all clairvoyant, too.

Your company consists of good people and they’ll have disagreements. You’ll discover this as soon as you write a draft of a creative brief.

The time to learn about those disagreements is before you assign the project. Not after the ideas get presented and someone says, “Yeah, but we never show photos of club members with their shirts off. Didn’t someone tell you that?” (This actually happened to me when I presented work to a client in the health club business that showed a chiseled bodybuilder sans tee-shirt. Nowhere in the creative brief was this little tidbit mentioned, and it could have saved everyone the embarrassment.)

3. “We don’t do anything briefly around here.”

You must be the people with the thousand-page Website.

Brief doesn’t necessarily mean fewest possible words. Some well-written briefs can be five pages.

As I have written in a previous post, David Ogilvy is famous for having said, “Give me the freedom of a tightly written creative brief.”

There is no time like the present to hone new skills. The creative brief deserves your attention.

2. “We always just have a meeting and everyone takes good notes.”

When was the last time you played the child’s game called “Telephone”?

piclemmingThe creative brief is the repository of collective wisdom. Everyone may take good notes, but as anyone who has watched a trial with eyewitness testimony, different people have different takes on the same events. A creative brief documents your objectives.

1. “The deadline is yesterday.”

Ah, yes. You have no time to write a creative brief.

I saw a poster in the office of a print production colleague that read, “Lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part.”

I also remember this one: “There’s never time to do it right, but there’s always time to do it over.”

When you operate without a creative brief, you’re flying by the seat of your pants. Worse, you’re flying blind. That translates into wasted time, wasted money, waster opportunities.

Have you heard other excuses for not writing a creative brief? Or for accepting a poorly written creative brief? I’d love to hear from you.

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