E. luke@luke-allan.co.uk

Making a creative brief truly creative

Whilst the humble brief has weathered many storms and survived, it never quite fulfills it’s potential. For those setting the brief, completing it often becomes an exercise in itself. The result, a page of unanswered irrelevant questions that do little to inspire creativity. From the perspective of the creative team, rather than providing a framework that encourages imagination (whilst retaining it’s relevance to the author) it restricts the outcomes to a prescribed list of deliverables with no real metrics for measuring it’s success.

The lads at Teehan + Lax sparked an interesting conversation about the role of the digital brief on their blog, so be sure to check that out.

For what it’s worth, here are some additional thoughts:

What? = Success

Jon Lax, the posts author (amongst other things obviously, the name might give that away), rightly states that:

“If you can define an outcome, then you should know what success looks like and how you can measure it.”

Both the outcome, and your answer to the ‘what = success’ equation, will be dictated by the brand. Outcomes, rather than deliverables, certainly produce more tangible metrics but those metrics should be inherently linked to an overall goal. The outcome of an isolated project being a constituent of a wider strategy. Whilst this sounds exhausting, and somewhat anal, the resulting metrics can be assessed on a number of levels and not merely dictated by arbitrary figures. We’re all great at manipulating the numbers – dare to find the real value, something that makes this all human and worthwhile.

Like Mike

Michael Griffiths raises a good point in his comment:

“…I often create multiple briefs for a single site/app. For example, a microsite might be about driving awareness at a high level (one brief), but may have a game inside of it that is used to communicate a specific brand equity (a second brief).”

This brings me back to an interesting post by Marc Shillum who proposed that branding is about creating patterns, not repeating messages. By understanding the nuances of your own (brand) identity, briefs take on a more tangible and unique perspective.

A degree of flexibility is in order

By focusing on outcomes, rather than deliverables, the creative mind of a designer is awakened. As Lax suggests:

Focusing on an outcome can be very liberating since you can come up with solutions that aren’t predetermined.

Be prepared therefore to re-write the brief, to deconstruct it and find the real value in what’s being requested.

“Designers, ‘design’ the brief”

In another post, Teehan + Lax (I don’t work for them, honest) discuss the concept of ‘adaptive marketing’. Whilst that’s another subject for another blog post, this adaptive and evolving approach needs to be taken to the brief itself. Why not re-design the brief to be considerate of this – take advantage of the digital capabilities on offer to streamline the creative process for future iterations. Build up an array of information to inform this evolution and to stay ahead of the game.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this so please feel free to comment!

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