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The Creative Brief: 4 Things to Remember
By: Don McLean
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The illusive creative brief. Either you just pictured yourself in Spain running with the bulls or in an old-timey Western town with a tumbling tumbleweed passing by. Either way, the creative brief comes in many forms. Too much information. Too little information. A good account executive should know how to write the perfect creative brief. With that said, here are four simple things to remember that are usually otherwise forgotten:

1. Keep it succinct: Nobody wants to look at a creative brief that just seems like you threw up on the page. First, we want the creative department to actually read the entire brief, not just skim through it. Second, we want it to give them a clear direction. This is why it is important to condense your thoughts. It is easy to just drop every bit of information into the document. Anybody can do that. However, this should be used very strategically to get the proper message out of the request. The account executive should discover the insights by listening and ask the right questions to develop a clear and concise document. After all, it is called a “brief” for a reason.

2. Don’t use generic descriptions: Copying and pasting information from the company’s website or elsewhere on the Internet will not help much. Active listening comes in here. Unless there is some exciting news about the company, be unique. It all you do is pull boilerplate messaging, it makes it more difficult to get something exceptional from creative. For best results, use your own words. 

3. Get client approval: This is an important step in the process. After the client requests the work, the account executive will go back and write up the creative brief. If they just send it straight to creative, without following up with the client, results could be unsuccessful. Taxi calls this “rebriefing.” The account executive may have forgotten to ask certain questions or misinterpreted something the client requested. If this is the case, it will now cost the agency double because it takes time and money to rework the deliverable.

4. Include a clear goal: A request for creative is made for a reason. It is meant to accomplish something. If a creative does not know what the work is meant to accomplish, then the project is doomed from the start. The account executive should be specific as to what the client is looking achieve and state it clearly.

These four simple reminders will save your company a considerable amount of time and rework. This, in turn, saves the company saves money. Not to mention a few headaches. Creative briefs may look slightly different at each agency, but they all have the same goal: to help creative maximize results for the client.


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About the Author
Don McLean, MBA is an account supervisor at Airfoil Group, an independent marketing and public relations firm serving tech companies and innovation-centric brands with offices in Detroit, New York and Silicon Valley. Follow Don on twitter at@mclean_don.  
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