HOW TO WRITE AN EFFECTIVE CREATIVE STRATEGY – PLUS A SAMPLE CREATIVE BRIEF
This is a blog about issues of brand trust, written by the head of a creative project agency – and yet it’s never addressed one critical, trust-building (or trust-destroying) tool: The creative brief. Allow me to correct that oversight now.
Building brand trust starts with building team trust
You may be a marketing mega-maven who’s just crafted the most compelling marketing strategy ever seen for creating a customer-centric, consumer-delighting, trust- and loyalty-building brand experience – but if your creative team doesn’t have an actionable brief, they’re never going to be able to create the communications and content that bring it all to life.
Even worse, they’re going to get frustrated, ticked off or both, inevitably retreating into the traditional we/they posture that so often besets creative and clients (or account people). In short, if your creative team doesn’t trust you to give them the support and consideration they need, they won’t be able to give you the trust-building campaign your brand deserves. Oh, they may give you something cool, cutting-edge, and totally irrelevant – but if you want honest human communication, everybody is best served by investing the time to create an effective, usable creative brief.
How to write a creative strategy that makes the creative work… work
In my experience, whether at BBDO New York working on superbrands like Pepsi or GE or in my own agency, working for big brands and start-ups alike, there are five relatively simple, but routinely overlooked, keys to creating a strategic process that creates team trust:
- Include the creative team in the strategic process.
I know that everybody likes to own their own corporate turf, but if brand managers, or the account people who serve them at agencies, aren’t willing to vest the creative team in the formation of the creative
strategy, well, you can pretty much count on less-than-strategic creative results.
- Keep the creative brief brief
Your creative team has to distill a ton of information into a campaign of integrated, and largely short form, communications: TV spots of 30 seconds or less; blog posts of 300-400 words; tweets of 140 characters max; images with no words of explanation at all. You, as the owner of the strategic process, will do everyone a huge favor if you distill what you can upfront.
- Skip the marketing jargon…
… that is, unless you want the creative team to go mad and drive a stake(holder) through the heart they’re convinced you don’t have.
- Keep it consumer-benefit focused
Save the product-centric copy for the catalog; whether you’re developing a website, ad campaign, sales collateral or all the above, all communications need to focus on what’s in it for the consumer.
- Use the creative strategy as your guide to judging the creative work
Unlike some of my creative kin who feel that their creative output should be embraced without question as divine revelation, I believe that the creative marketing process requires dialogue. Unfortunately, clients and creatives frequently seem to speak different languages. You can facilitate productive discussion and collaboration by leveraging a well-wrought creative strategy as your Rosetta Stone for interpreting, and constructively criticizing, work.DOWNLOAD A SAMPLE CREATIVE BRIEF
And what does it look like when one doesn’t use the creative strategy process as the opportunity to develop a constructive, mutually trusting client-creative relationship? Sometimes, something like this: