The Good Brief - a no-frills guide to writing creative briefs

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A simple, no-nonsense guide to writing creative briefs that work. Complete with tips, pointers and cheat sheets to help you focus and distill the things that really to write an effective creative brief.

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The Good Brief - a no-frills guide to writing creative briefs

  1. 1. Good Brief
  2. 2. Guiding principles • Inspire – a good brief should motivating enough to the creative (not ‘just another job’) and help them to make the creative leap easily (‘clear direction and message – I just need to think of how to express this creatively’). – Easy test – read the brief to yourself and would you be able to create an ad from your brief? – At the very least, even if the nature of the job is not interesting, the brief should be able to leave the creative with clear instructions and expectations of what to deliver. • Clarity – be clear and single-minded about what you want to communicate with the brief • Trim, trim, trim – Filter out unnecessary information that will not impact your final message and deliverable, or will not be helpful to the creative. Remember, you can always verbalise them in the briefing session. • Information-organisation – using tables, pictures, charts, timeline etc. to organise facts and numbers (esp. promotional mechanics) Good BriefGood BriefGood BriefGood Brief
  3. 3. Background & Objectives • Fully understanding the client’s reasons (business-wise, marketing-wise) for communications – Answer to yourself: why exactly are we doing this? – Performance of past campaign? The reason why we need to start a new campaign, use a new direction? – Any research / competitive / category / consumer / sales info? • Marketing objectives (examples) – ACQUIRE – get new drinkers / users / subscribers / visitors – EXPAND – get existing drinkers / users / subscribers / visitors to purchase / use / visit us more – RETAIN – maintain the usage of our drinkers / users / subscribers / visitors • Communication objectives (or what’s the role of communications? – these are usually more specific) – THINK - To improve awareness, to educate, to establish a perception – FEEL - To change a perception, to change a particular feeling towards the brand – DO - To get the target to do something – purchase, repeat purchase, swipe their credit cards more often Good BriefGood BriefGood BriefGood Brief
  4. 4. The Target, and what else do we know about them? • Who are they? General demographics – age, gender, location, profession. – Be single-minded and define a bulls eye target. • What else do we know about the target that will affect our message? Sometimes, can be reframed 3 ways: – Consumer Insight:Consumer Insight:Consumer Insight:Consumer Insight: A knowledge about the target regarding the category, their feelings, sentiments that when cited, will resonate with most. “For most HK tax payers, bonuses (the 13th month salary / double salary) are often used to pay off and subsidise their tax payment. This year, taxpayers are expected to face more pressure in fulfilling their tax responsibilities as the economic crisis has impacted their net income and the award of bonuses from their companies.” – Category / Product Insight:Category / Product Insight:Category / Product Insight:Category / Product Insight: How do they think / feel / treat / behave towards the category / brand / product? “The interest rate of taxation loan usually is more attractive than other Personal Loan products. Tax loan is therefore a smart and very feasible option to help taxpayers ease their cash flow this tax season, and free up more resources to attain whatever.” – Brand Insight:Brand Insight:Brand Insight:Brand Insight: How do the targets think and feel about the brand? “Bank XYZ is seen as a bank that is ‘smart’ and ‘streetwise’, providing loan that helps the general Hong Konger save money on interest rates by via flexible repayment period and expert advices on loan matters. • Think of this as the build-up to your ‘strategy’ – after understanding the situation and your target • All in all, after reading this section, you should be able to have an idea of how to frame the proposition / key message. Good BriefGood BriefGood BriefGood Brief
  5. 5. Proposition & Key Message What do you want to say and tell and the target audience? If the final creative product is the ‘how to say’, think of this as the ‘‘‘‘what to saywhat to saywhat to saywhat to say’’’’ to address the marketing and communication objectives, given the knowledge and the insights that you have identified in the previous section. Way #1: Fill in the blanks Try to fill in the blanks of a statement and experiment variations to help you focus. Examples:Examples:Examples:Examples: 1. Tell the target that Brand X is a healthier choice because it is made with XYZ, and full of nutrition. The propositionThe propositionThe propositionThe proposition –––– Brand X, simply the healthier choiceBrand X, simply the healthier choiceBrand X, simply the healthier choiceBrand X, simply the healthier choice 2. Tell the target that Bank XYZ’s tax loan is the smarter way to achieve better cash flow / financial flexibility because we offer the highest loan amounts - twice the amount of your tax bill The proposition: Bank XYZ Tax LoanThe proposition: Bank XYZ Tax LoanThe proposition: Bank XYZ Tax LoanThe proposition: Bank XYZ Tax Loan –––– the smarter way to achieve better cash flowthe smarter way to achieve better cash flowthe smarter way to achieve better cash flowthe smarter way to achieve better cash flow Can be modified to be really specific to help you isolate the intended results from the communications objectives: 3. Tell the target to use Brand A cooking oil instead of Brand C because we are the better, healthier oil to complement the best ingredients in your dishes (followed by stating the RTBs) The proposition: Brand A cooking oilThe proposition: Brand A cooking oilThe proposition: Brand A cooking oilThe proposition: Brand A cooking oil ---- the best ingredients deserve the best cooking oil.the best ingredients deserve the best cooking oil.the best ingredients deserve the best cooking oil.the best ingredients deserve the best cooking oil. Good BriefGood BriefGood BriefGood Brief
  6. 6. Proposition & Key Message Way #2: Put down your thoughts (your ‘strategy’) of what you want the communications to achieve before crafting your proposition Examples:Examples:Examples:Examples: 1.1.1.1. The thought:The thought:The thought:The thought: Position taking tax loans as a smart move to ease cash flow during tax seasons The proposition:The proposition:The proposition:The proposition: Bank XYZ Tax Loan – the smarter way to achieve better cash flow / financial flexibility 2. The thought:2. The thought:2. The thought:2. The thought: Instead of looking at tax bills as burdens, think of tax bills as ‘passports’ to obtain more cash and better cash flow to spend on ‘dream’ purchases / major life events / investments. The proposition:The proposition:The proposition:The proposition: Bank XYZ Tax Loan allows you to cash in on your tax bill and enjoy financial flexibility 3. The thought:3. The thought:3. The thought:3. The thought: We know that the target takes a lot of effort to buy and select the best ingredients for their dishes. We can bring their attention to the fact that only by using the best quality oil, can they truly do justice to the best ingredients in making the perfect dish. The proposition:The proposition:The proposition:The proposition: Brand A cooking oilBrand A cooking oilBrand A cooking oilBrand A cooking oil ---- the best ingredients deserve the best cooking oil.the best ingredients deserve the best cooking oil.the best ingredients deserve the best cooking oil.the best ingredients deserve the best cooking oil. Good BriefGood BriefGood BriefGood Brief
  7. 7. Reasons-to-believe / Support • Usually follows on from the proposition / key message, if not create a section to specify the RTBs / supporting information. • Basically, this will be the answer to ‘why should I believe your proposition / key message’? • Do not be lazy and simply copy and paste every product feature that you know into this section – select and prioritise the important ones that supports your proposition / key message. – You can always create another section ‘Additional supports’ to list out the RTBs / supporting information Good BriefGood BriefGood BriefGood Brief
  8. 8. Tone and Manner / Tonality • The best way to describe tone and manner is to put them in human terms - What’s the voice that your communications will take? – “Like a mother - loving, soothing, comforting” – “Think about a streetwise person – clever, always thinking of a way to save time and money, takes shortcuts, likes to show off to his friends whenever he discovers new ways to be smarter” – “Like a respected schoolteacher from your childhood – strict on the outside, but noble, caring and full of good intentions” – “Reflective of a smart housewife – confident, very clear and discerning about her choices when it comes to making purchase decisions to save and ‘gain’ from good deals” • Try to avoid citing the usual brand values, personalities e.g. professional, simple, contemporary, high class, caring, modern, etc. Good BriefGood BriefGood BriefGood Brief
  9. 9. Thought-starters • Show initiative to help the creative by demonstrating how your proposition / key message can be expressed creatively – Easiest, simplest way is to look for references of TVCs / print ads that are close to what you have in mind how the final creative product could be – Create ‘ads’ - Tell a story of a potential TVC, draw a mock print ad. – Find inspirations from movies, books, comics, new trends / observations Good BriefGood BriefGood BriefGood Brief
  10. 10. The briefing session • Just as important as the written brief itself. • Avoid giving a brief by reading out from paper when briefing the creatives – often boring, uninspiring, not getting the attention you need from the creatives who will be too busy reading the briefs on their own – Choose to only hand-out the hard copy of the brief at the end of the briefing session. • Use a visual aid – powerpoint are easiest and you can copy and paste content from your written brief. • Let the creatives experience the product / category and see your points – Show competitive ads and TVCs – Videos of researches (interviews, focus groups) – For example, if the brief is about ‘the lightest running shoes’, bring in a few pairs of running shoes and let the creative touch and weigh the products themselves. – Convincing and often, fun ice-breaker for the team Good BriefGood BriefGood BriefGood Brief
  11. 11. Questions? Good BriefGood BriefGood BriefGood Brief
  12. 12. Pencils sharp? Start writing
  13. 13. Good Brief

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