ANA Better Creative Brief: What does a good creative brief look like?



Your Creative Brief Probably Stinks! by Bill Duggan, Group EVP, ANA

It all starts with a brief… As John Hegarty (founder of Bartle Bogle Hegarty) said, “Writing bad briefs is the most expensive way to write advertising”. Depending on which side of the fence you are sitting on, creative briefs are either adequate or lacking, and it is astounding how many poor briefs find their way into agency hands. It is common for companies to allocate the job of writing a brief to the more junior members of the team. Junior employees who may not have the experience to understand what a good brief looks like, or appreciate its importance.

Creativity rests at the heart of good advertising; a notion which is all the more relevant today. Consumers are exposed to more media and more messages than ever before, making the competition between brands even more challenging. Content that isn’t engaging will slip through the net of subconscious without a second thought.

If you are dubious about the link between creativity and effective marketing, take a look at these stats below:

Creatively awarded campaigns deliver 11 times the return on investment of non-creatively awarded campaigns.

Since 1999, every Cannes Lions Creative Marketer of the Year company has won during a period of record share price performance

As outlined in the ANA Better Creative Brief white paper, great communications begin with the brief, but why is it so important?

Let’s turn this around and see what poor briefing can result in:

  • Increased amends and revisions
  • Greater churn in the creative process
  • Fractured client/agency relationships
  • Time consuming and expensive

As shown, creativity, a key indicator of effective marketing, needs to be nurtured and fostered. When a creative team receives a succinct brief, which fills them with inspiration and motivation to get behind the brand and message, then clearly this is an environment in which the best work will be produced.

But like all of these things, it’s easier said than done. Poor briefing usually takes the guise of an unfocused direction, in a bid for thoroughness. Marketers are keen to communicate all the wonderful things about their brand, however this leads to saying a lot without saying much.

So, take the time to refine, refine, refine, and identify a specific message you want to communicate.

But what does a good creative brief look like?

A creative brief needs to inspire, any customer should be able to take a look at a great brief and have instant comprehension and the brief should steer and guide rather than shackle and dictate. But it’s a fine balance of providing tight enough parameters that offer focus and direction.

In the ANA Better Creative Briefs white paper, eight elements for what should be included in a creative brief were identified:

  1. Objective or ProblemA measurable problem for the communication to solve
  2. Target Audience
  3. Insight – An insight about the audience, which your product/service can solve. Emotional insights are far more powerful than rational
  4. Key BenefitA focused benefit that consumers can enjoy from using the product/service
  5. Reason to believe/support – Why would the customer believe what you are saying?
  6. Tone/Brand Personality – Consistent brand identity
  7. Deliverables
  8. Measures – How will the agency be evaluated and against what measures?

Flock has had extensive knowledge in all aspects of the client/agency relationship. In the past, we have helped global clients make the most of their agency partners, across numerous industries. If you would like to see best practise briefing templates and have access to our briefing training workshops please fill in the form:

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