6 Tips for a Great Creative Brief

  1. Simplicity Above All Else — The job of a strategist is to take complex things and boil them down to their simplest form. No extraneous information, just the stuff that helps the creative team understand the task at hand and inspires thoughts on how we might solve it. “If I had more time I would have written a shorter letter.” A long brief is a lazy brief.
  2. Use Plain Language — Say it like someone on the street would say it. No marketing talk. Strategists use marketing talk when they haven’t actually figured out what they want to say. Marketing talk makes them sound smart without actually being smart.
  3. Put Yourself in Their Shoes — Write from the perspective of the audience you’re trying to reach. What do they care about? What do they worry about? How do they talk? What gets them excited?
  4. Be Honest — A lot of briefs shy away from uncomplimentary brand truths because they don’t want to bum out the client. The more honest a brief can be, the stronger the work will be. If people in the real world are saying and thinking something, we shouldn’t be afraid of saying it in the brief.
  5. Converse with Culture — The best advertising is in conversation with culture, so a great brief will identify one or two things that are bigger than our product or category that we might be able to pull from. We need to find ways to talk about our products in the context of something that matters to our audience. Culture is a great way to do that.
  6. Tell a Story — The brief sets the tone for the rest of the project, so try to get people excited about the opportunity at hand. Rather than just reading out facts and deliverables, let’s tell people a story. Use images, use videos, and get the team excited by showing them you’re excited.



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Tom Kenny

Tom Kenny

Storyteller, problem solver, bon vivant. Chief Strategy Officer at Ogilvy Toronto. @thomaskenny