We know our products but not our brands.

It’s an accusation. It’s also a fact. When I do my workshop on creative briefs, I always ask participants to do what I call my Albert Einstein Challenge (which I’ve written about here before). Einstein is famous for having said, “If you can’t explain it to a child, you don’t understand it yourself.” So the […]

The adage that rules our world.

There’s an old saying in our business that dictates everything we do. It has ruled our world since the dawn of the ad agency business. It puts the lie to any notion that we are in control of our own fate. Do you know this saying? I bet you do. It makes liars of us […]

Is your company resistant to change? Two tests to find out.

I’ve been teaching creative brief workshops for 19 years and have traveled many miles, in airplanes and online, to meet many smart and dedicated brand advocates. They all told me they wanted to improve their brief-writing skills. They all wanted to write better creative briefs. I believed them. I always do. But I’ve also learned […]

Build a better box.

(First published in July 2009) When I began my career as a copywriter, I viewed rules the way other creatives viewed rules: with disdain. I wanted nothing to interfere with the creative process. Nothing to stand between me and a big idea. You know, the whole “live free or die” thing. It’s a philosophy the young […]

Advice to brief writers from two copywriters and an art director.

Two copywriters and an art director walk into a bar. Well, no they didn’t. But they did each write about writing and they all have something to say to brief writers about how to write better briefs. First, a tangent: Two kinds of people tend to show up for my workshops on creative briefs: marketers […]

Why brief writers must also be historians.

In 2018 I traveled to San Francisco to lead a creative brief-writing workshop for a high-tech brand that was a member of the Association of National Advertisers. I cannot name the member, but it is a well-known brand most of you would know. I worked with a group of about 25-30 people, most of them […]

A blank creative brief is different than a blank piece of paper.

Writers have historically lamented the blank page, but I think this is overstated. No writer approaches the task of writing without an idea, some spark that feeds the imagination. I have been writing for 57 years, and I can promise you that only rarely did I sit in a comfortable chair with my notebook propped […]

Six ideas on how to write better single-minded propositions.

[Published originally in December 2021, but this one never gets old.] No one wants to write a bad single-minded proposition. I get it. There’s a ton of pressure on you to not just write the damn thing, but to write a brilliant one. When everyone expects, well, Just Do It, anyone would shrivel up into […]

I had not the time to make it shorter.

Writing a book is not like writing a weekly essay for a blog. This essay has a firm deadline. A book does not, or usually does not. I’ve written two textbooks, one of which has had two new editions. The second book is due for updating. But writing a textbook is nothing like writing a […]

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