A Creative’s Perspective on Innovative Creative Briefs

By Drew McLellan, leader of the Agency Management Institute

A well-constructed creative brief is an essential tool for any creative project. Yet somehow, many creative briefs fail to live up to their potential and leave creatives with uninspiring work that ultimately wastes time, energy, and resources.

As Pat Fallon once said: “If the Creative Brief itself isn’t creative, then its authors have no right to expect brilliance.” Lack of clarity, vague direction, insufficient information, unrealistic expectations, and lack of collaboration between the creative team and the client are some of the main reasons creative briefs fail.

It’s clear that the success of a project depends on the brief-makers and the creative team being on the same wavelength. Brief-makers must take the time to understand the project’s full potential, provide clear goals, and explain what to accomplish. These directives also serve as a valuable resource for the creative team throughout the rest of the project and help set expectations for them and the client.

The Two Core Functions of Creative Briefs

A creative brief has two core functions — to inform and to inspire. Both functions are equally crucial in making sure the project comes to success.

The primary function of creative briefs is to inform the creative team about the project goals, target audience, desired outcome, budget, timeline, and visual style. This brief helps the team understand the client’s creative vision. It also allows them to execute the project effectively and cohesively.

The second function of creative briefs is to give the creative team room to craft their best work and generate a wealth of inspiration in return. Creatives need inspiration to create the good work you hired them for, and creative briefs provide that inspiration.

How to Inspire Creativity Across Teams When Collaborating on the Briefing Process

As a leader, you may think cultivating team-wide inspiration is an undesirable or unnecessary chore. However, to build effective creative briefs, you must flip this mentality to consider the inspiration process as an untapped opportunity. There are many ways to achieve team-wide creativity and inspiration, but the following are some great places to start:

1. Look to the professionals.

Offer your team members and creatives access to various resources such as Julian Cole, Faris Yakob, and Rosie Yakob. These professionals offer a variety of training and mentorship that can sharpen employees’ brief-writing skills. They also encourage your team to think creatively and explore new ideas and perspectives outside their normal scope of work. The more resources and creative inputs your team has, the more creativity and nuance they’re able to put into their work.

2. Put your team members first.

Encouraging open communication and collaboration, fostering a supportive environment, and providing mentorship and training opportunities are just a few ways that you can help your teams create effective creative briefs that do more than just check the boxes. Additionally, when you put your employees first, you can more easily clarify the goals, objectives, and expectations of a complex project with multiple moving parts. It’s not easy to coordinate all the teams needed to complete a project, but free-flowing communication is the way to start.

3. Encourage creativity every day.

Regularly giving praise and recognition helps build confidence in your team members and encourages creativity, inspiration, and effective projects in return. After all, encouraging creativity helps align all team members and stakeholders on each project’s goals and desired outcomes to achieve more rewarding results.

Remember that your creative briefs are the most important documents in business. They are the keys that permanently transform your marketing strategy. Ensure your marketing strategy performs to the best of its ability by sparking creativity daily and generating inspiration among your team members.

About the Author

Drew McLellan leads the Agency Management Institute, which advises hundreds of small- to medium-sized advertising agencies on how to grow and build their profitability through agency owner peer networks, consulting, workshops, and more.