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Why Your Creative Briefs (ahem) Are Garbage

Sucky Creative Briefs can suck the life right out of you!Everyone talks about Creative Briefs. Ok, so that’s not true. But design teams sometimes mention them – like ”I can quite literally feel the life force being sucked out of me by this creative brief that the marketing team wrote” or perhaps “We should totally start using creative briefs” or even “Life’s too short to spend my time reading this steaming pile of $#!t you call a creative brief!”  But hey! Good news, people – there’s a better way!

If you’re a designer, creative briefs should save you time by helping you nail the best concept sooner. And if you’re an in-house designer especially, whose internal clients have no qualms about wasting your time with incessant design edits, a good creative brief will keep you from losing your mind, as you can use it to keep people on track. That’s exciting, right? I mean, if there were some tool that you could use that would wipe away 50% of all the pain-in-the-assery of your job, wouldn’t you pick up the phone and “buy now”?

But wait – most creative briefs that I’ve encountered, are completely ignored after just the quickest glance, wiping away nothing! What’s up with that?

What’s the Problem With Creative Briefs? I’ll tell you what the problem is …

When creative briefs fail to stir people to bust out singing “What a Wonderful World,” it’s generally for these two reasons:

  1. They are too long.

    Listen, marketing people: we love you – without you, we’d all be designing flyers for our nephew’s punk band, but can you please get to the point a little sooner than page 12? If you’ve only got half a page of text, we can probably work with that. And designers, if the marketing folks have left out some important detail, walk over to their cubicles and ask them about it! This way, designers and marketers together learn what information the other team needs to do their job well.

  2. They runneth over with BS.

    I’m not kidding, just use regular old words, not the crappy new ones they made up in your MBA program so that you would feel like you were getting value for your $100k in tuition. As the great David Ogilvy said, “Our business is infested with idiots who try to impress by using pretentious jargon.” I’m sure he wasn’t calling YOU an idiot (he was probably looking at me), but I do think we could start a new trend of writing creative briefs as if our lives depended on them being read.