Brief writing is front of mind for me at the moment – I’m getting ready to deliver a fourth wave of brief writing training for a very fast-growing agency and also prepping to deliver lectures to Creative Advertising undergraduates.
One issue that rears its head again and again when I train account handlers is that they see a creative brief template as a lot of boxes to fill in, rather than a creative springboard. As a result, they don’t grasp that there should be a thread or storytelling arc running through the brief, connecting target audience, insight, proposition and substantiation/proof.
This is why I much prefer the agencies I train to use a traditional word document portrait template that allows for a logical flow down the document from target audience right through to proof. The agencies using landscape PDFs with pre-sized boxes might be avoiding anyone turning in an eight page brief, but it’s near-impossible to build a logical flow into that format. And I’ve written before about the madness of forcing a busy account handler to spend their time trying to shorten the substantiation by four words in order to fit it into the assigned box. Or, writing the whole thing in 6pt so that the poor creative has to squint to read it.
Yes, some inexperienced brief writers do sometimes go for quantity over quality when given a template with no wordcount constraints. But that’s where training and having appropriate internal approval processes comes in. It’s called a Creative Brief for a reason – it should inspire creative, in as brief a way as possible.