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The Dying Art of a Creative Brief

When I first ventured into the advertising industry nearly 10 years ago, the creative brief was considered the holy grail of advertising documents. It was an unwritten rule that no copywriter or designer would touch a campaign without one.

The creative brief would be clearly and concisely written by a member of the brand team before the conception of a campaign, based on a verbal download from the client. Each brief was intentionally organised and specifically formatted to ensure nothing was lost in transcription. This document would then be passed on to the creative team who would begin working on something “wow” to present to the client. It was a process that took a few days at the very least... but it was a process that was never ignored or cast aside in favour of quick execution. Today, however, in a time where ads are created daily to keep up with the every-changing Meta algorithms, the creative brief is quickly becoming a forgone or forgotten relic among marketing teams.

writing a creative marketing brief is an essential step that is being skipped my many marketers

The advertising real estate which was once limited, has now become so vast that businesses and brands need to be in a constant state of promotion to stay visible (more than relevant). As a result of this, every piece of advertising is needed “yesterday”(in marketing speak), which leaves little to no room for planning, briefing, and ideation before diving into execution. Having worked with several brand and marketing teams over the years, I have personally seen the importance given to a brief fading away steadily. Sure, there are still many executives and managers who push for the writing of a creative brief; but given the urgency of most tasks and daunting digital deadlines, this effort is often willingly passed upon to ensure faster turnaround time. But what does this mean for the new era of advertising? For one thing, it is the loss of a very strong process that is crucial to creative integrity. It also takes away from the time and structure needed to develop some truly creative ideas. And lastly, it is leaving a huge gap in the understanding and education of creative processes for those entering the advertising/marketing industry today.

Advertising and marketing creatives are made in a rush with no creative briefs to back them up

While writing a brief, it was not only the brand representative who would get a clearer picture of the goals, objectives and insights, but it also helped the creative team work in tandem and hit the nail on the head, consistently - something that truly has been lost in this age of directionless design which focuses on pushing a product, without a story. But all is not lost. The crown now lies on the heads of experienced creative directors, content managers and brand executive to firmly push the bill in favour of the creative brief.

Creative team leads must set down clear processes to help their team ultimately support the business objectives. I have a few suggestions of things that could help:

  1. A pre-defined marketing calendar that is signed off on by all leaderships teams and is then aggressively followed by all (often this exercise is undertaken enthusiastically, but then forgotten as the year progresses).

  2. Strong team leads who push for the implementation and adherence of processes, and support their teams and their executional bandwidth without falling prey to unrealistic demands.

  3. A clear outline of business goals, objectives and marketing budgets at the start of the year which help the creative team plan their efforts in advance.

  4. And most importantly, a concise briefing statement (from the requesting team) that outlines: - The goal / objective of the ad: what do you want the consumers to think or feel? - The audience profile: who will see this ad and how is it relevant to them? - The key insight: why are you making this ad? does it address a specific problem? - The scope: which formats and how many creatives are required? - The timeline: when does it need to be delivered and how long will the ad run for? And if there simply isn't ANY affordable time to write a short brief like this one, sharing a simple one-line briefing statement that clearly conveys the problem and solution along with the goal of the creative is a good place to start.

It’s easy to slip into the demands of digital marketing, and see quick results. But what we must not lose sight of as marketers, is that stories and good ideas are what really connect with the audience. If you want to be remembered for longer than till the next ad is displayed, start spending time and effort on pre-campaign processes instead of only looking at post-campaign analytics.


This post was originally published by the author on Linkedin.

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