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Kill the creative mind…how to do this quickly!

8 Aug
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You can kill the creative…
Creativity can be killed, and it happens day in and day out. What you put into a brief is what you get out! Having worked both sides of the fence, client and agency side, I’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly. Believe me, I was certainly part of a few uglies in my first year…and this kills the creative process.
A good brief creates good creative! Remember one thing…creatives need to be inspired, feel passionate about your product or service and you want them tearing out of that meeting enthusiastic and ready for action. But how to do that…now that is the question.

When I was first let loose at a creative brief, I was a fresh new Account Exec at an agency in London. I had no idea what to expect or in fact what to do, but I soon learnt with a rather large failure. The agency had one of the best creative directors I’ve ever seen, but I was terrified and intimidated at the same time. I used to see Account Execs running out the door crying…this does not bode well for me is what I thought, and how true that was. So before my first briefing, I had shaking knees, voice and hands…and I walked into the lions den. It started off in a very civil way, but then all my little mistakes and inattention to detail were slowly and methodically pointed out with large gaps and lack of inspiration in a very bad brief.  It was awful! The creative that came out of that brief was hardly inspiring.

So my mission from that day on was to master the best creative brief out there. Ok, so I still haven’t mastered it…as we learn things each day. But I can honestly say that I have delivered some great briefs in different ways that have produced outstanding results. But how did I go about it?

Creatives are just that…creative!

So we should treat them as creatives…get your creative juices flowing, whether you’re the client of whether you’re the agency and inspire.

One of the first things I did after that was to truly get to grips with the product or offering that I was dealing with. What is it and what is unique about it? And even more critically, who is your target audience – their wants, their needs, where they live, what they like and what they don’t like…I’m sure you get the idea. Now this is part of a normal brief that we do each day, but there is a hook there that you will find if you look hard enough and think about in a different way – challenge your thinking.

A brief needs to be creative in the way it is presented and also ‘brief’! Who wants to go through 20 pages of words…certainly not me and certainly not a creative!

Watch this great video on You Tube from a creative – it’s brilliant. Being from the other side, it just speaks to me.

I worked for a large entertainment company and often due to time constraints, our briefs with our creatives were held over quick telephone conversations, in the hallway or sometimes there wasn’t even a brief…we need to deliver X by Y date and goodbye. Go do your thing. We couldn’t understand why our agency just wasn’t delivering the world class creative we should be getting with such an exciting product to work with. The simple truth of the matter is that we were not paying enough attention to the most critical part of the creative process. The brief. There was no leniency for creative thinking or the opportunity to push the boundaries.

How to present your brief?

How about a video brief?

First, think about the sector or industry you’re in. In the brief I describe below, I had the luxury of working with a truly entertaining product – TV. We had heaps of content that could stir up all sorts of emotions from our viewers…so we needed to stir up the same emotions with our agency. Instead of doing a written brief, I decided to do a visual brief. In short, it was a video. I used movie, sport and entertainment clips, with some pretty awesome sound as well as vox pops with our customers! I presented the ‘brief’ at a local cinema…so it was a cinematic experience, which was what our brand was all about. I did have a written brief to go with the video to give the nitty gritty. The editorial and creative strategy that emerged as a result of this was pretty awesome.

Target audience, target audience, target audience…

In my opinion this is one of the most important parts of a brief…you cannot create a campaign for everyone…it just doesn’t  make sense! Be niche in your approach. Different people react to different things – is a working mother of three going to respond in the same way as a male technical engineer? I think not.

Even presenting the target audience should have a bit of a creative flair…yep it really can.

You could do two things…

Create your own ‘pen profile’ – not being a creative at least you can all have a laugh about your drawing skills…see example below, and I truly encourage you to laugh at my drawings!

My very novice pen portrait of a target customer just to get you laughing…

I also created a mood board of who we were and what we were trying to portray in our communications.

How about presenting your creative brief in a mood board form?

Use the same principles for any industry…what makes it special? Really and truly think about the bare minimum that needs to go in to inspire those creatives and that’s all there should be…you could have back up documentation if it is really necessary. Remember a creative is about words and pictures not about long corporate ‘stuff’. If you put it in, ask yourself why they need to know this and will it really add to the creative process…my guess is a lot of it probably won’t. Maybe you need to do a round tour of site visits, get your aency to speak to customers…anything that can make it come alive. The key here is to get the message across loud and clear and with passion.

For the above, I clearly had too much time on my hands, and is not necessarily practical in today’s day and age, but for this particular brief it worked.

Who are we talking to?

For me, one of the things that is often a bit unclear in a brief is the target audience…lots of stats, facts and figures and not enough insight or real juice to work with. Sometimes I’ve even just got an answer of ‘well we’re targeting everyone’…that doesn’t really work for me as how am I meant to get the messages relevant and spot on.

I used to create a ‘Pen Portrait’ as shown above. It was great fun to do, and was incredibly powerful. I literally used to draw a portrait of my target audience (yes even though my drawing skills are no match for a creative!). That person had a name, she had an address, we knew her family members, her interests, what she liked to buy, what she liked to eat, where she went on holiday and what motivated her. Instead of reading loads of words it was a simple but effective way of seeing exactly who you’re dealing with.

In a nutshell…

Use your imagination when briefing creatives…try and get those creative juices flowing! What would inspire them? What would excite them? Get the brief right, and you will surely be on your way to a highly successful campaign.

Good luck!

I would love you to share your tips on how to present a winning brief? Please let me know!