‘Chronicles of a Head of Digital’ – 26

Read a great little blog on creative briefs the other day on what can be missed and all that.

Not wishing to just reiterate what you can read and claim as my own leading thoughts, I want to reinforce some of its thinking and where it led me. And it’s all about the hard work that should, and needs, to be done up front of any brief. A sizeable brief that is, as in campaign or such-like rather than a ‘we need two MPUs type of brief’. So yes, a creative not a production brief.

Saying that, even a production brief should have that work done up front, specs, sizes, formats and all that to save doing the simplest thing three times. Anyhow, that is an aside, although an aside that does reinforce the main. Call it an amuse-bouche if you like.


A well-written brief is vital. And to do a well-written brief, said author needs to do some legwork up front. It’s all well and good saying client P wants to promote product G to demographic C and they have X to spend on it.

But what about the actuals? What about the market? What about any previous? What about contextualising?

I have said before, data is going to be king this year, so let’s use this insight to drive better creative through insight.

Is there a plan? If not, why not?

Time is money, and I know we often feel the need to jump straight in with the pictures, the money shot, and the glamour, but how often has said glamour had to be repurposed after the plan has been resolved?

For me, lazy thinking comes from just making up a line and attaching a visual. How is that going to work cross-channel? Cross-device? Does it translate across medium? Does it need to?

Strategy is so important.

Does all this come out of the ‘business problem’ being answered? Probably yes, so let’s do that first rather than diving straight in.

Give that creative bunch something tangible to sink their teeth into. The more defined a brief, the less fluff you get back. You allow creatives to be creative.

To dive into my old life again, designing buildings, you need to know some basics. You can’t just design a building – a house has different needs from a hospital. You need to be briefed, get the basics to enable full creative thoughts. The same is true for this game too.

Buildings: I need to know the purpose, the requirement and the context as a start. As in it’s a family house, for four people in the middle of Bradford on this street, or it’s a family house, for four people on this plot in the middle of this forest… Two basic things that are the same but the content changes all. Obviously, you need to know more than these three things, but flesh these out properly and you can get going. That is a brief.

Get the brief right, spend time on that and then you buy yourself space.

As Ogilvy Sydney’s Ryan O’Connell, who wrote the inspirational blog, said:

“This leads to bigger thinking and bigger ideas. And bigger thinking and bigger ideas is never, ever a bad thing.”

Let the right people focus on the right bits, which is good, as it shows joined-up thinking and everything goes #FullCircle.

The woollier you leave your brief, the more time is wasted by the wrong people doing the wrong thing before they do a creative thought in the right way.

#Never Run

Plan up front. Work stuff out. Write it down properly (rich from me I know…) and focus on the big things in the right order from the right people.