Sunday, November 03, 2013

What's Your Brief Like?

I once asked a Creative who had changed agencies what the brief was like at his new place. He replied: "Same shit, different boxes."

It's certainly true that every agency is obsessed with having their own unique format of brief... but it probably has far less impact on the work than their culture and clients do.
And yet... the document does communicate something about the values of the agency behind it.

Some briefs are aggressively unconstrained (see Fallon's brief, above). Others have the complexity of a psychology examination. 

And of course, they do influence an agency's output to some extent. They must do.

We are in the process of overhauling our creative brief here at Naked right now, and it feels like an exciting time.

What form of words can we come up with, that will have an inspirational effect on everyone in the agency, and produce work that blows juries' bollocks off?

I quite like this BBDO one.

Then again, I do slightly worry - about this one and especially the Fallon one - that although they look fantastic, and feel like they offer a lot of creative freedom, they could actually trip the Creatives up; for example by not including crucial info like the desired tone of voice, or any mandatories that are realistically going to have to be addressed. Maybe these follow on a separate page, I don't know.

So what do you like to see in a briefing document? Is there a good one you've worked to in the past? 

Do you like to see stuff like the business problem or brand purpose in there? Do you get upset if there's no proposition? Or is the format of the briefing document pretty much irrelevant to you... as long as there's some clarity and insight, it could be written in comic sans on a piece of bog roll, for all you care? 


Darren said...

It is called a brief for a reason. The important thing is the brief is the brief is not there to brief the creatives but to be the criteria against the creative idea is assessed and evaluated.

Rico said...

The BBDO template is awesome, and yes there is a reverse side..

Anonymous said...

I like TBWA's 'disruption' model. This is where we are, this is where we want to be, and this is the proposition that will change that.

Anonymous said...

To me it has to be tight. This is business after all. You can't go to a construction company and say 'Hey we need to build a road. Sweet, thanks. See you in two years'.

It should be a really well-thought out box to play in, without any 'creative' propositions. Just a simple summary of what the creatives need to do, say or solve.

So much scrutiny is placed on the creative output, yet so little on the brief. Flip the tables and I believe you'll get a better result.

Simone said...

For great work it's always been about the quality of what's written on the brief rather than the boxes themselves.

Anonymous said...

No matter the format, it depends on who fills it in.
I have had this kind of thing before:

Get: Men and women aged 18-54
To: Buy our product
By: Telling them it's good.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget the most important part of a brief: this ad has to be noticed. Right at the top somewhere.

lubomir said...

I like the Get To By model because it’s so simple, and brief. Actually there is a full set of questions you should answer before you fill it.

I also like the brief form of a German agency called JungvMatt - if I remember correctly their brief is a beermat – creative people receive it while having beer with account.

Scamp said...

Ha! Loving the beer mat. Maybe there's a distinction to be drawn between briefs that express an agency's USP (e.g. TBWA's 'Disruption', JWT's 'Indifference Filter') and briefs that don't express a USP, but just try to be simple and/or stimulating.

lubomir said...


Absolutely, every agency has a “thing” that it sells. Now sometimes the “thing” sounds like bullshit sometimes like something you can buy.

For instance part of Crispin Porter + Bogusky’s brief (I saw once) is something called Tension – which should answer to questions as:What is the psychological or social tension associated with the idea? What makes the target tense about the idea? Now it sounds scientific but could you make psychological assessment of each idea – every time? I think you can’t… but it is good that the client thinks you can :)

Anonymous said...

I'd love to have a brief these days – as a freelancer I seem to get either a forwarded email, or worse have to decipher a dense client powerpoint myself and figure out my own proposition before I can even start.

The days of bagging the brief at M&C seem nirvana now.

Anonymous said...

@Scamp. It would be interesting to see the Creative Briefs from all the top agencies.