Creatives love to complain about bad briefs. If they tried writing one they’d find out how hard it is.

As a former ad agency creative with 26 years under my belt, I can attest to how often and often how loudly I’ve complained about bad briefs.

Loudly and often.

But then anyone who works with creatives knows that creatives love to complain. Oh boy do we ever.

That’s why, when creatives attend one of my workshops on writing creative briefs, the honest ones echo each other with a new complaint.

Creative briefs are hard to write!

Yeah, well I coulda told ‘em that. But better they find out for themselves.

Not many creatives have ever written a creative brief.

They should. It’s a humbling experience.

The thing is, not all creatives are strategic thinkers. That’s okay. I didn’t think of myself as a strategic thinker until I decided to stop complaining about bad briefs and started learning about what makes a good creative brief.

First and foremost, it’s about good writing. So I started with at least one advantage. I’m a good writer. But I learned the rest as I went. My training as a student of literature in general, poetry in particular, made me a close reader. Studying briefs taught me not only what makes briefs great, but also what great briefs leave out. It was the latter that opened my eyes.

I co-host a video podcast with a good friend in Miami, Henry Gomez. He’s VP/Director of Strategy at Zubi Advertising, a multicultural agency. He works with creatives all the time, and he likes to say that not every creative is cut out to be a strategic thinker.

But, he reminds me and our viewers, not all strategists are creative. When he does work with a strategically minded creative, they will often be great collaborators on the briefs Henry writes. These strategic creatives help Henry write better briefs. One key reason: creatives cut to the chase.

My advice to creatives everywhere, whether you’re a newbie or you’ve been on the job since LBJ: learn to write a brief. Whether you’re a strategic thinker or not, the exercise will chasten and humble you. It will also give you a new respect for brief writers whose briefs you complain about.

As one creative who took my workshop told me: “Now I know why a brief is bad and I can say so.”

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