Better Briefs

While this tip may get a lot more interest if we evaluate the pros and cons of female and male beach bodies and their importance in underwear promotion, we’re talking about the far less exciting, but more financially important, topic of how brand teams communicate with their agencies and the importance of clear, focused, and unambiguous creative briefs.

There has been a lot of ink (both real and electronic) spilled on the subject of how to get the best execution out of a creative agency.  Basically, the discussion comes around to the fact that not nearly enough time is spent thinking through exactly what the marketers would like and the brief being too ambiguous to be helpful.  Having been on both sides of this equation, there is plenty of blame to go around, but that doesn't mean the claim is without merit.  The question I have is how do we expect the creative brief to get better when the strategic component that should be driving it is not any clearer?

Have you read brand positioning statements?  The majority that we see are loaded with marketing buzz words, purposefully ambiguous, and generally unusable for strategic direction.  Even when a clear, concise, and differentiating positioning statement has been crafted, it is frequently modified back towards greater ambiguity.  While marketers may feel this gives them greater latitude and broader appeal, they fail to realize is that the increased ambiguity has downstream effects that are not taken into consideration.

One of the biggest impacts, and the one we are discussing here, is poor creative direction.  If the brand's positioning isn't clear, how can you expect the creative brief to be clear?  It won't be!  So you will send your agency off to develop creative with direction that is less than ideal and quickly be disappointed that what they have developed is not what you were hoping for.  Nobody wins-you will be upset that you haven't gotten what you asked for, that it's taking too long, and that your budget is being wasted; the agency will be upset because they are not delivering on expectations, have wasted time and energy, and they now have an unhappy client.

All of this can be avoided (or at least minimized) by being clear.  Define what you want your brand to be, as clearly and directly as you can.  Be specific with your agency; the better the direction they receive from you the more likely you are to get what you're hoping for.  Most importantly in all of this, your customers and potential customers will actually have the best opportunity to perceive your brand the way you intend them to. The cost for not being clear is enormous. You have a lot on your plate, but few things are more important than this.

Dennis CrowleyComment