YOU’VE FIGURED OUT THE MARKETING STRATEGY, HONED AND CRAFTED A BRIEF AND YOU’RE READY TO HAND IT OVER TO A CREATIVE TEAM, AGENCY OR SPECIALIST. BUT WHAT’S THE BEST WAY TO DO IT? SEND IT AS A PDF AND CROSS YOUR FINGERS?

FRESH FROM THE RECENT BBH-HOSTED APG YOUNG PLANNERS EVENT ON “HOW TO SPEAK TO CREATIVES”, DALONIE GRAHAM LAYS DOWN TEN LESSONS TO HELP DELIVER THE PERFECT CREATIVE BRIEFING.

Kanye is bad at briefings.

Naturally the creative briefing is every planner’s favourite part of the creative process.

We all entered the world of advertising with dreams of making cool work and when the opportunity to make said work comes about the draw of the limelight is stronger than ever. 

What if I told you that putting yourself to one side is the best way to put yourself in front? 

Here’s a cheat sheet for becoming every creative’s favourite planner.

1. Make the shared aim great work that works.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking it’s all on your shoulders. As a strategist you’re supposed to be the Google Maps to a lost tourist, the Pep Guardiola of the team, the Professor X to the mutants. Planning exists to support creativity in the aim of driving effectiveness. If you don’t remember anything else from this article, remember that you are there to make the work work.

2. Value clarity over everything else.

Sure, advertising jargon can be a useful shorthand every now and then.

But too often, jargon fails to cut-through to the target millennial creative team segment across resonant UX touch points.

The best work always comes from clarity. Creatives want to know what to do and what constraints they have to do it under. The less time they spend trying to interpret things, the more time they have to make work that’s on-brief. Say what you mean.

3. Always share the brief/strategy with Creative Directors.

Imagine how much better your grades would’ve been if you could’ve asked for the answers before submitting your assignment. Get your CD’s buy in, get their builds, get them to challenge the strategy, talk about what kind of work you both want to get to. It’s also a great opportunity to chat about how the creative teams you’ve got like to be briefed, review and work. This is the one case in your life in which you can cheat guilt-free and then be rewarded for it.

4. Be honest.

Creatives can smell bullshit from a mile away – if you try to jazz up a briefing you’ll lose all credibility. They’re well aware that not every brief is going to result in an amazing, fame-driving piece of work – there are going to be some stinkers every now and then. Share the problem honestly and you’ll find that more times than not that the best work comes from trust rather than coercion.

 5. Inspire and talk about the problem through similar work.

To quote Nas (or Mark Twain) – “no idea’s original”. Every single idea you’ve had has been inspired by something else and it’ll continue to be that way until the end of time. There are few better ways to help creatives than to have some piece of work or culture that started with a similar problem and ended with a great solution. After being briefed they’ll be looking for inspiration so make it even easier for them and find the inspiration yourself. The less time they spend looking for examples the more time they have to work on creating amazing work – remember you’re there to make the work work.

6. Ask them how you can help.

A quarterback’s job is more than just throwing pinpoint passes on the field, they have to bring the team together off the field as well. Talk to the creatives to see what would genuinely help them to make the best work whether that be more information or a visual inspiration or anything else. Pretend you’re the creative, you’re the one who’s about to be briefed – what could a strategist do for you that would help you to make the best work possible? For bonus points check in after the briefing and see if there’s anything else that can help.

7. Check in with your CD.

While you’re waiting for work to come back don’t be afraid to pop in your CD’s office and have a conversation. If you’re unsure about anything post-briefing check in and see how it’s going so far. It’s fine if creatives have been catching up with the CD without you –  both have an equally shared responsibility to identify, shape and build the work. Don’t wait until the formal meeting in the hope that the work will come out okay.

8. Listen. Listen. Listen.

As planners we’re literally paid to be right, we’re supposed to be the cornerstone of the creative execution after having gained everyone’s trust. That doesn’t mean you’re supposed to be the only voice in the room. You’ll only get better by asking creatives what they think, listening to what they have to say and then applying it.

9. Resist giving creative answers. 

It’s hard to let go of something you’ve raised – ask your mum. Naturally you’ll want the work that comes out of the brief to be something that you’ve envisaged. Try and show creatives the problem that needs to be solved rather than solving it yourself. With some creatives you might be able to get away with a thought starter, with others you won’t (Check. In. With. Your. CD.). Your brief is Jon Snow and you’re Ned Stark – it’s not really your child so send it to the wall and detach yourself from it.

10. Empathise with them.

In order to keep themselves sane creatives have to master the art of not marrying themselves to any idea they have no matter how good it is. Having said this they’re human. Everyone secretly wants their idea to come to life no matter how well they keep their feelings hidden. Imagine this, you’ve just matched with 20 people on Tinder in one day (one can dream). 13 of them don’t reply, 6 of them unmatch inexplicably and the last one that you felt a spark with was a catfish. That’s what it feels like to be a creative post-review. Try to understand how they feel throughout the process and remember that you’re there to help them score.

Apply all of these things and you’ll have more new friends than you can account for. In turn the output will be better and everyone’s life will be a whole lot easier.

Always remember that you are there to make the work work.