Show Us Your Briefs

  |  August 22, 2014   |  Comments

High-quality creative execution is rarely the direct result of a creative brief. But that can be changed! We want to see your briefs so we can help you improve them.

When I talk to marketers about their creative briefs, the responses I get are about as diverse as the undie aisle at Target. Their briefs come in all shapes, styles, and sizes, and only the most brave and defiant don't bother to use briefs at all. Some will preach on about the virtue of briefs and their necessary role in covering the company's marketing essentials. Most complain their creative briefs offer too little support and grant their agencies too much creative freedom, while others believe their briefs are too confining and restrictive to the marketing and creative process. Rarely do you find the company that is truly comfortable with their creative briefs. They often have entertaining stories to tell about their own briefs shortcomings.


According to Wikipedia,

Creative briefs can come in many flavors and are usually tailored to the agency or group that is developing the creative deliverable. They know which questions (and answers) are of paramount importance to them in order to deliver a high-quality creative execution. (emphasis mine)

I wonder how many marketers would agree that the questions on most creative briefs result in high-quality creative execution - my guess is I could count them on my fingers. Not that agencies never deliver high quality, but when it happens it is rarely the direct result of the creative brief itself. As a general rule I find the more cycles it takes to get adequate execution is a reflection of how ineffective that brief is in asking the proper questions.

On the other side of the fence, the agency or creative departments are usually painfully aware of the inability of the typical creative brief to communicate marketing's needs, and even a well-thought-out creative brief is only as good as the ability of the marketer requesting the creative to fill it out properly and thoroughly. Often times the marketer, for a host of reasons, doesn't know how to articulate precisely what they need. The results are usually hilarious.

At the end of day, creative briefs are seen as a necessary evil by both sides. At best they are a great starting point for creative execution, at worst they hamper and impede progress. But we shouldn't blame creative briefs for the problem; they have a thankless job. It can't be fun to be that thin barrier between our marketing efforts and the critical and mocking public eye.

Many of the clients we work with are struggling with creative execution, and inevitably we find their creative briefs to be the culprit. They provide too little customer context and too much jargon and noise to guide anything but the most simple of creatives, and sometimes not even that. It doesn't have to be that way.

So at the risk of sounding forward, I would like to see your briefs. In fact, I have set up a shared Dropbox where you can drop your briefs. Along with your briefs, feel free to send along comments and stories about them. I want to hear it all, the good and the bad.

In my next column I will share some of these briefs along with some guidance on how to make your creative briefs more supportive of your efforts.

Homepage image via Shutterstock.

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Bryan Eisenberg

Bryan Eisenberg is coauthor of the Wall Street Journal, Amazon, BusinessWeek, and New York Times bestselling books "Call to Action," "Waiting For Your Cat to Bark?," and "Always Be Testing." Bryan is a professional marketing speaker and has keynoted conferences globally such as SES,, Direct Marketing Association, MarketingSherpa, Econsultancy, Webcom, SEM Konferansen Norway, the Canadian Marketing Association, and others. In 2010, Bryan was named a winner of the Direct Marketing Educational Foundation's Rising Stars Awards, which recognizes the most talented professionals 40 years of age or younger in the field of direct/interactive marketing. He is also cofounder and chairman emeritus of the Web Analytics Association. Bryan serves as an advisory board member of SES Conference & Expo, the eMetrics Marketing Optimization Summit, and several venture capital backed companies. He works with his coauthor and brother Jeffrey Eisenberg. You can find them at

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