If you can’t explain your brand to a child, how can you write a brief?

Think you can do this? Try it. It’s much harder than you imagine.

This exercise is inspired by a line credited to Albert Einstein, who said:

If you can’t explain it to a child, you don’t understand it yourself.

So take the “it” out of Einstein’s sentence (or challenge if you want to be honest), and substitute “it” with your brand.

But be careful. Use your brand, not your product.

In other words, don’t explain basketball. Explain the Chicago Bulls.

Don’t explain banking. Explain Citibank.

Don’t explain insurance. Explain GEICO.

Don’t explain computers. Explain Dell.

But explain it in language a six-year-old would get.

Why a child? You’re not advertising to a child, you say? Doesn’t matter.

If you can’t explain your brand in simple, basic terms, words a kid would understand, how can you possibly write a creative brief that will explain your objective to, much less excite and inspire your creatives?

You’ve heard of KISS, right?

Keep it simple, students. (This is a family blog.)

The exercise is not designed to teach you how to talk to kids. It’s to remind you that we use big words to impress, not to communicate. We fall into marketing speak to hide our lack of understanding. We resort to insider language because it’s easy and we get lazy.

And most important of all: We do not really know how to explain our brand.

I use this exercise when I teach my workshops on writing a creative brief. It trips up even the most senior marketers and creatives who try it. I’ve been using it for 15 years.

So go for it. Explain your brand (not your product) so a kid understands you.

Here’s the “Teacher’s Answer Key.” Once you’ve written out your answer, ask yourself this question: Can any other brand make this claim? If the answer is yes, you’ve described a product, or a product category, or a different product. But you have not explained your brand.

If you succeed, you’re in a very small minority.

Which is kinda scary.

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