Styling better creative briefs


We all dream of writing that brief which makes a creative team sit up and say “My god! This is it, I get it, I love it, I love you, I know exactly what I am going to do!”

Unfortunately that’s more the exception than the rule and the situation is made worse by the fact that planners/strategists/”thought ninjas” (or whatever other name by which you like to be known – polite only) are primarily verbal people.

Why does that make it worse?

Because most of the time we are talking to primarily visual people. If you put a 3 page A4 document in front of a designer it’s not likely to be viewed as a brilliantly incisive piece of valuable thinking. It’s more likely to be seen as a boring tract of unnecessary detail or, in the worst case scenario, a sleep aid.

There is science behind this of course – research into learning styles. There are 4 key learning styles –

  • Aural or Auditory – learners who like to discuss, listen, repeat and debate in order to learn.
  • Visual – learners who grasp ideas more easily if they are illustrated, graphically represented or arranged for instance by using charts and mind maps.
  • Visual (verbal) – learners who take in information through words read/write
  • Kinesthetic – learners who need their learning to be connected to reality through demonstrations, exhibits, case studies etc.

Too often we’re guilty of  putting out briefs and information in ways that are unusable or difficult for others to process, and then we wonder why our carefully crafted masterpieces get ignored.

How to combat this?

  1. Write less – please can we have no more 3 page A4 tomes as briefs. Even I can’t bear them and I love writing (viz and towhit…)
  2. Include imagery – Combine the fundamental  requirements and insights with one picture that expresses the whole concept
  3. Think about immersion – Can we use physical space to brief, experiences to drive understanding?

We now use a brief that has a full page image and 2 pages of ppt size and I’ve found it to be really useful in helping me communicate both fact and emotional concepts. I haven’t yet had an occasion on which to use a Kinesthetic approach but would love to hear from anyone who has on what worked and what didn’t.