Strategy and Creative Briefs



  • It shouldn't just be a handoff: I prefer to shape the brief in collaboration with others, especially creatives (or those who will execute the brief)
  • "Insight" and great ideas can come from anyone. Not just planners, creatives, strategists, and so on.
  • Great briefs don't always include an "insight." A brief might just point out the things that matter, or the priorities, or what has been overlooked.
  • An "insight" might not keep a small business alive. It might not keep a big business alive either.
  • Sometimes the answer really is obvious, and just needs to be narrowed down or pointed out. Sometimes that is not the sexy or exciting thing to do. Sometimes the culture makes people scared to point out what is "obvious."
  • How is "insight" defined?
  • A great brief helps lead to great work.
  • The team needs more than just a great brief to be setup for success.
  • Briefs should be brief - ideally less than two pages. If longer, be mindful in how the information is organized.
  • Do not make exaggerated or unvalidated claims. It is difficult to ideate from BS.
  • Use plain, clear language. If any jargon is used, explain the what and why. Does it need to be used? Would the audience understand?
  • Use a common sense or BS test. Do we feel good about the brief? Is it exciting? Boring? Annoying?
  • What questions are we trying to answer? For the brand or the audience?
  • Just like another document or presentation, the brief is not the goal, result, output, or destination. It is one just step. It should help distill research and thinking into: "here's what matters."

Below is an outline I am working on from the briefs I've seen over time:

  • Date
  • Brief Creator
  • Business - Marketing - Social Media Objective
  • Project Purpose
  • Audience
  • One Key Message
  • What should the audience think or do as a result of seeing our message?
  • Project Deliverable (e.g., a video)
  • How we will measure success

Additional Reading

The Surprising Power of Questions

Strategy is Your Words by Mark Pollard

Fast Company: Got Milk? How the iconic campaign came to be, 25 years ago

Udder Success: A Brief History of the 'Got Milk?' Campaign

It's Time to Burn the Brief

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