Bring the Brief

This might seem like a small point to post about, but I think it’s important. When you go to a meeting to present creative, bring the strategic brief along. Ideally, you should set up your work using the brief, but at least have it with you.

Inevitably, the creative director, or account person or the CLIENT will ask to be reminded what the net takeaway on the brief is. It’s okay to whip the brief out and read it (usually, an account person or planner will be all over this). What doesn’t look so good (and believe me, I’ve seen this happen) is if all the creatives just look at each other, hoping that someone remembers the main thing their work is supposed to communicate. This puts a bullet in the work before it’s even been presented. It says that there’s a good chance your work will be off strategy, because you don’t even know what the damn strategy is.

I tend to lose things easily, so I started making a 3/4-sized photocopy of the brief and pasting it in my sketchbook. That way I always know where I can find it quickly. Just in case.

How to identify a bad brief.

A creative should be able to identify a bad brief as easily as an account person can identify a bad piece of creative.

Signs you’ve been given a bad brief:

  • The brief is longer than one page.
  • The single-minded message section contains more than one message. (I’ve had single-minded messages presented in bullet points. Wish I were kidding.)
  • It’s creatively worded so that several messages are scattered throughout different sections (e.g. One in the key insight, one in the net takeaway, a different one in the mandatory).
  • The target description is mostly demographic. (We’re talking to 18-32 year old men who make between $20,000 and $80,000 a year…) 
  • It’s a “middle strategy.” Tastes good, but also good for you. Not to big, not too small. Fancy, yet affordable. Not too boring, but not too memorable either.
  • There’s nothing unexpected, inspirational or insightful.