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A good brief contains the answer to every creative problem.

My first creative director was Stan Hill of Hill Ayton, at the time a small, newish ad agency in Nairobi, Kenya. Stan on his own was a one-man creative team. He was one of only two people I ever met who was equally brilliant as an artist and a writer.  

Stan was a huge believer in the creative brief and strove to write one in detail for each creative job. He was obsessed with the brief and convinced that a proper one was essential for good work. In that respect he was a true missionary.  

He used to insist that if the brief was good enough it would contain the answer to every creative problem. A good brief, he would say, helps identify the problem to be solved, so that time and effort is not wasted solving red herrings. He argued that the key to every creative job was to crystallise the problem or the opportunity.

Once you have established the real issue, the solving of it is relatively easy. The headache is always identifying the problem. This aid to focussing on the essence of the problem is the true value of the brief for creative people.

He would also say that the brief should be written together with the client to ensure that agency and client are always on the same page. He insisted the client specify marketing objectives that could be measured and quantified and the written brief had to be signed and dated by client and agency. This was not just for the record but also to ensure that the client played his part professionally and seriously and could see that we were serious and professional too.

The further value of the brief is shown when the agency presents creative work to the client. First the agency must demonstrate that the work answers the brief and solves the correct problem. Work that does not answer the brief should never be presented and should have failed the agency’s own internal creative review.

We have adopted Stan Hill’s creative brief for every job at Pic Tree.

Creative Brief

1   What is the problem or opportunity?
2   What is the marketing objective?
3   Who are we talking to?
4   What does he/she currently think and do?
5   What do we want him/her to think or do?
6   What do we expect the advertising/communication to do?
7   What is the single-minded proposition?
8   What is the supporting evidence?
9   Tone of voice
10 Media
11 Budget
12 Attachments
Deadline for internal review
Deadline for presentation to client
Signed Client
Signed Agency

We firmly believe in the creative brief. Discover its significance and importance as a vital step in the creation of exceptional work that will resonate with your target market.

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