Less is more. Not to beat a dead horse, but writing about Arnell and the rationale for the new Pepsi logo got me going on what a brief is all about. It is not a multi-page bloviation on gravitational pull. I have seen many over the years, and most aren’t worth the paper they are written on. Disclaimer–I have never worked in an advertising agency. Maybe it’s different in the ad world.
For those of us in Brand-land, we are either provided with a brief from our client or the strategy team must compose one for the creatives based on an immersion in the corporate or product strategy. (And every firm I have worked for has a different way of writing a brief). Briefs are used for logo design, naming, visual systems and they are critical tools for any creative team. If we create one internally, we forward it to the client for approval. Sadly, many clients don’t know what to do with it. In the worst and most common case, the client approves it, without realizing the this becomes our the touchstone by which we judge our work. Chaos ensues when they don’t like said work, and we defend it fiercely as being “on brief.”
I’m not beating up on clients, because I was one too. I remember an endless battle with the head of my company, who didn’t like a proposed ad campaign. I went over the rationale and explained how the ads visually and verbally supported the position and personality we had adopted. He didn’t get it. Finally, I showed him the brief we had given to the agency, which he had contributed to and had approved. Oops. Well, he “had seen the document, but didn’t understand what it was for, and he still didn’t like the campaign…”
What makes a good brief? I don’t know if I buy the concept that it is a fill-in-the-blank form. It’s one of those “I’ll know it when I see it” things, because the type of information that is relevant and necessary for a consumer product is different for business to business or corporate.
What I really love is the story I read in Ad Age today about a new campaign by McCann for Nescafe. Maybe they started with a complicated, multi-layered, everything but the kitchen sink brief. But you know what it got boiled down to?
How cool is that? That’s what I mean by “the freedom of a tight brief”.