The 3 reasons your brief is not your project plan

My last post was about how creative briefs are awesome and how we should all strive to master the art of writing them and make them part of the common language of scaling-up teams.

So this week I thought I’d tell you the three things the brief is NOT.

1. The brief is NOT your strategy

The brief happens when your strategy has been already clarified. I’ve seen too many  teams using the brief template as a substitute to the strategic process. Even worse, used as a meeting agenda. Strategy doesn’t happen when looking inwards and debating personal opinions around a brainstorming table. It happens when you go out there, talk to real people who use or don’t use your product, engage with influencers in your category, learn from your competition.

The simpler the brief template the better. That will force you to do the thinking process before you start writing. the agency BBDO has done a great job to adopt the simple “get-to-by” brief template.

2. The brief is not your RACI

The brief tends to be adopted when the product team is getting too big to manage all its members through informal tools and channels.

But a brief is NOT a project plan, nor a RACI – the useful yet confusing document that aims to manage all the politics around a project by stating who’s Responsible, Accountable, Consulted and / or Informed – roll your eyes now if you’ve ever left a RACI meeting feeling you just lost an hour of your time.

The brief should be a strategic document that the whole team can refer to, use as a conversation facilitator and even challenge.

3. The brief is NOT your creative execution

There are several examples of legendary planners who have written briefs so good that brand or campaign slogans were just lifted out of them.

But don’t attempt greatness with every brief you write, you might end up just sounding like a pompous prick. Aim for good briefs instead: have a clear single-minded objective, reflect a real human insight and an inspiring proposition.

And remember: good creatives can work miracles with a bad brief. But good briefs are prerequisite for great work.

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