Who, exactly, do you write the creative brief for?

I’m not being sarcastic or flip. This is a legitimate question, one that’s easy to lose track of when you write a brief. And it’s something I hear very often.

Obviously, the holistic answer is: everyone on the team.

But ultimately, the brief is written for the creative team, the creative director, writer, art director and/or designer. Anyone in the creative department who’ll have a hand in producing the work to be presented internally first, then to the client.

Yeah, I know: duh.

But think for a minute. If you write the brief for your boss or immediate supervisor (someone higher up on the account services chain of command) you’ll end up using different vocabulary than if you write the brief for creatives.

Prove it, you say.

Okay, next time you have to write a brief, make it your mission to meet with the team (writer & AD) who’ll do the work. Tell them you’d like their input before you write the brief (give them a moment to recover their composure since they’ll never have heard these words from an account person before).

Then listen carefully. They’ll tell you in phrases and words you’ll want to write down and remember how to compose the brief.

Do this often enough, and a couple things will begin to happen. First, you’ll establish a new and better relationship with your creatives.

Second, your briefs will be clearer and tighter because you’ll be feeding back to your team the words you heard from them.

You don’t have to accept everything out of their mouths verbatim, of course. Make it a discussion, with give and take, until you arrive at agreed upon terminology that everyone understands. No guessing, no assuming, no clairvoyance required.

But I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at what you discover. Best of all, you’ll make the task of writing a brief a team effort, or at least as much as that’s possible.

The last thing you really want to do is write a brief all by yourself. That’s usually how it’s done because of time issues. But it’s a mistake.

Creatives always do creative as a team, writer and art director. Two heads, not one. Brief writers should follow suit.

Rule of Thumb:

Write to the people who produce the work, not those who support them.

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