One is the loneliest number

No one should ever write a creative brief alone. If you don’t believe me, listen to Jon Steel, author of Truth, Lies, and Advertising: The Art of Account Planning (whom I’ve quoted liberally on this blog):

“I can say with complete confidence that the best briefs I have ever written have really been written by my creative colleagues.”

His point is very simple. A creative team consists of an art director and a copywriter, and the two serve as sounding boards for each other. Without a sounding board, it’s very difficult to know if your idea has relevance or validity.

The truth is true for creatives and creative brief writers alike.

Mr. Steel isn’t suggesting that you pawn off your job to the creatives. On the contrary. Your creative team is your sounding board, your reality check.

Here’s his explanation:

“…(creatives) are invariably much better than I am at finding the right words to express the all-important main idea.”

Is that so surprising? It shouldn’t be.

Remember, I’m talking about collaboration, not delegation. As the person responsible for writing the creative brief, you have access to a lot more information than the creative team. As you do the work, you’re synthesizing this information and arriving at ideas of your own. Some more formed than others, but you have ideas.

It’s at this gestating stage that you need the sounding board. Your creatives can give you real feedback.

Here’s Mr. Steel again:

“…once (the brief writer) has a solution in sight, (you) should expose it to the creative team both to assess its potential and to see if the initial thinking can be expanded and enhanced. If it does make sense, and if they can enhance it, it gives them a powerful stake in the strategy and the brief. They are less likely to feel backed into a corner by it, and it also gives them a considerable head start in terms of thinking time.”

The upsides seem pretty clear to me: the likelihood of better creative in the first round, team buy in from the start, a little old-fashioned team bonding, and probably a couple of creatives rocked back on their heels because you asked for their opinions.

I understand that you, the brief writer, don’t live to be the creatives’ hero.

But I’ll bet it’s something you could get used to.

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