The top five reasons why you don’t need a creative brief

5. The freelance creative team/ad agency is brilliant. They’ll figure it out.
Maybe. If you’re lucky. Or you have really deep pockets and can afford top-tier talent.

But if you’re neither lucky or rich, experience tells me that very few people understand how to write a tight brief that inspires the desired results.

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

Your creative partners may be very good at what they do in terms of creative ideas that sell. But passing the buck on the creative brief sets you up for problems, including wasted time and money.

The creative brief is a contract with your creative partners in which you explain in great detail what you expect and what you want the communication ideas to achieve. You may disagree on which of the ideas they present will work best, and that’s part of the process, but you’ll have a document against which to judge all the ideas to determine whether they’re “on brief” or “off brief.”

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 spend money to hire advertising professionals, not after the ad team presents ideas and someone says, “Yeah, but we never show photos of club members with their shirts off. Didn’t someone tell the ad guys that?” (This actually happened to me when I presented work to a client in the health club business that showed a chiseled bodybuilder sans t-shirt. Nowhere in the 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 1000-page Website.

Brief doesn’t necessarily mean fewest words possible. I’ve read well-written briefs that ran five pages.

Brief means concise, clear and with a point of view. It’s not a document designed for “everything and the kitchen sink.”

As a wise creative director once said, “Give me the freedom of a tightly written creative brief.”

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

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

An oral briefing is no substitute for a written creative brief. The two should go hand in hand.

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 reads, “Lack of planning on your part doesn’t constitute an emergency on my part.”’

I also remembered 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, wasted opportunities.

Get into the discipline of writing a brief before you hand off an assignment to your creative partners. Let them know that you know what you want, and why.

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