Yesterday afternoon, I presented a webinar for an audience of over 150 IHAF members (In-House Agency Forum) on “Writing Better Briefs.” I started the presentation by saying that tackling a new creative assignment without the benefit of a sound project brief is like driving blindfolded—you may get there eventually, but not without a few mishaps along the way.
During the webinar, I reviewed the anatomy of a brief punctuated by examples including some of the best (and worst) practices I’ve seen over the years. One of the points I made was that creative briefs should inspire the team to come up with ideas that not only resonate with the target but set you apart from the competition and move the needle on sales.
Since the session, I’ve received a number of questions from attendees seeking guidance on how to overcome one or more stuck spots they encounter authoring briefs. One such email asked if I have “any tips on how to make creative briefs less informational and more inspirational.”
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My answer is that I would never want you to make your briefs less informational, as information is the crux of a good brief. What I suggested in my webinar was that brief writers be concise and efficient with language so your briefs are streamlined, easy to read, and not overburdened with superfluous details. In fact, that’s one way to make them inspirational—people will be inspired to keep reading if the information you share is relevant, well-written and easy to digest.
The word “inspirational” is a little tricky in that briefs shouldn’t read like advertising copy. The inspiring part comes in how you frame the project or problem your creative team is about to undertake. Your brief should state the opportunity in a way that draws the writer and designer into the work. So instead of putting this in your brief, “Develop a DM piece encouraging people to open an Extra20 checking account,” position it this way, “Develop a DM piece that gets people jazzed about the $20 a month they’ll earn when they sign-up for Extra20 checking.”
The difference between those two statements alone is enough to cause the creative team to either yawn about having to do another direct mail piece on checking accounts or get pumped about developing a piece that elicits an emotional response from the consumer. Writing briefs that inspire your team isn’t about eliminating meaningful information; it’s about packaging it in a way that’s inviting and energizing versus just another hum-drum project.