All’s Well That Begins Well: Learning to Love the Creative Brief

Liam NeesonResearch; it’s a word that often stirs dread in the hearts of creatives. Many see it as the slog work — the number crunching done to appease nitpickers and fact checkers who will undoubtedly hunt down and take apart your content like a middle-aged Liam Neeson does Eastern European kidnappers (They will find your content — and they will kill your credibility). But the necessity of research reaches far beyond simply substantiating claims. In our world of marketing, doing your “homework” before embarking on a major project is not only recommended; it’s a necessity. Enter: creative briefs.

More Info, Better Results

Information is worth more than gold when starting a new project. Internally, this is usually in the form of a creative brief, which is a summation of collected information on our client, plus key direction for the given project. We can do a lot here at Findsome & Winmore but, unfortunately, we cannot read minds (yet). That means we have to pull our information the old fashioned way, and ask some important questions to our clients and ourselves.

So what’s in the creative brief secret sauce? Here are the top five client insights that help inspire us before starting a new project:

1. Who is your audience? Without this factor defined, creatives are rebels without a cause. Sails without wind. Ducks without… quacks (you get the idea).

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2. How much time do I have? Though art can’t be rushed, marketing creative often must be. Deadlines are a reality and can often lead to more defined, higher quality work — but only if they are set and known from the beginning.

3. Why? Yes, just “why.” Why are we writing or designing this? What is the objective? Goal setting is extremely important, as is just ensuring that everyone is on the same page before starting a new project.

4. Who inspires you? What are some examples of campaigns, ads or pieces of pop culture that capture the idea that you’re going for? Inspiration is everywhere, and it’s sometimes the most effective way to express exactly the tone or “feel” that you’re envisioning.

5. Who are you? Not just the theme song to CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, but also a question that is often forgotten before starting a project. Even if the creative is familiar with the client, a reminder before jumping into a project is pertinent to getting into the state of mind of what separates a company from its competition — language, tone, theme, and every other unique touch that can be pulled to make sure your content is as far from cookie-cutter as it can be.

As a content creator, this key information, provided by our clients and project managers, is the spark that lights up my creativity.

Better Results, Happier Clients

The more information, planning, strategy and good, old-fashioned effort that you put into a project before any work begins is exactly what separates good content writing from great content writing, and a failed project from a successful one. If looked at in a broader context, these steps, which may seem unnecessary to the unknowing, actually make content much easier to create. Furthermore, a project completed correctly the first time, after the appropriate amount of information gathering and research, can lead to fewer edits, less reworking and fewer reiterative meetings down the road. Invest early and reap the benefits of better, more efficient and strategic work. Don’t slack on the creative briefs!