Creative Opportunity #51: Who should write Creative Briefs

“The briefs we get aren’t always that helpful.”

Who is authoring the Creative Briefs in your organization?

It should the person or people that are most likely to really dig into the information about your situation and ferret out a relevant, meaningful and searing insight.

People who see that the target for minor league hockey isn’t hockey fans; it’s parents with schoolkids that whine – “I’m bored.” And the way for a bank to connect with business owners isn’t to talk about the bank’s services; it’s to celebrate the unique nature of those business owners. And that consumers should be mad at Angie’s List and Yelp for providing unverified reviews; the Better Business Bureau would never do that.

Depending on the structure of your organization, a person with the ability to divine these insights could be a product manager, brand manager, marketing manager, marcom manager, advertising manager, creative director, or perhaps others.

In my experience, that’s too often not the way it works. Instead, a certain job title is the author of Creative Briefs. Whether they should be or not. Writing Creative Briefs is a learned skill that takes practice and attention and should be the job of someone who has responsibility for the end product – the creative. If writing Creative Briefs is not someone’s primary job, they are likely not to get at the insights that make for great work.

So let me offer some thoughts by job title:

I think a lot of the talent and skills of product, brand and marketing managers. But, being skilled at authoring Creative Briefs is not usually their focus. Their focus is to manage the overall business for success. In the context of a Creative Brief, what they should be doing is providing marketing direction, a clear understanding of goals and needs, a definition of the target audience, an appreciation of direct competitors and knowledge about the business. Not searching for creative insights.

Should writing great Creative Briefs be the responsibility of the creative director? No. His or her focus and skill should be to take the Creative Brief and make amazing work from it. I am, however, a believer that a creative director should review a Creative Brief before it’s used as guidance; if it doesn’t have a great insight, make sense or it doesn’t have the potential to lead to great work, the creative director needs to say so.

Well, that leaves us with one title group: marcom and advertising managers. (I realize that not every organization has these titles, so maybe marketing should be included in here.) These are people whose job should be to make sure the creative teams have well-crafted, focused, inspiring and insightful direction. These are the people who should know what information is needed to get at powerful insights. People who should know how to work with product and brand managers to gather information. People who should be writing Creative Briefs regularly, getting better all the time. And should be reviewing each Brief with the creative director before work starts.

I don’t know how your organization is structured, but my observation is that having the brand/product/marketing people write Creative Briefs too often leads to facts on paper without an inspiring insight. Not because they’re bad people; that’s just not how most of them think. And too few creative people have the time or a marketing perspective to write Creative Briefs effectively. Marcom and advertising managers are ideally situated to be the authors of great Creative Briefs. And if they can’t do it, either find someone who can or send them to me.

Create opportunities for better creative. Go to Get Better Creative and learn about the workshop where, in one day, your team will become marketing communications rock stars. Talk with Dave Hamel, Principal of Get Better Creative and lead of the American Marketing Association’s “Successfully Managing the Creative Process” about getting better creative: 312.623.5567