4 Ways to Write an Effective Creative Brief with Howard Ibach, Creative Brief Workshops: Show Notes & Transcript
Welcome back to Marketing Smarts! From brand-building and marketing veterans Anne Candido and April Martini (that’s us) comes a podcast committed to cutting through all the confusing marketing BS so you can actually understand how to take action and change your business today. We deep-dive into topics most would gloss-over, infusing real-world examples from our combined 35+ years of corporate and agency experience. We tell it how it is so whether you are just starting out or have been in business awhile, you have the Marketing Smarts to immediately impact your business.
In this episode, we’re talking creative briefs with guest Howard Ibach, The King of Creative Briefs That Sell. Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, and your other favorite podcast spots – follow and leave a 5-star review if you’re exercising your Marketing Smarts!
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Marketing Smarts: 4 Ways to Write an Effective Creative Brief with Howard Ibach, Creative Brief Workshops
The creative brief is the spark to a fantastic campaign – or an underwhelming one, if you’re not careful. Effective creative briefs truly fit with your brand, are created collaboratively, are a single page, and keep the idea the deliverable. We wanted you to hear from “The King of Creative Briefs That Sell,” so we welcomed on Howard Ibach. He’s a creative brief expert, the Founder of Creative Brief Workshops, an author, trainer, and former creative. This episode covers everything from sales funnels to house-building metaphors. Here’s a small sample of what you will hear in this episode:
- How do you write effective creative briefs?
- Was the NyQuil brief 1 page?
- How many times have you seen a great creative brief in the past year?
- Why do you need to know your brand?
- What does collaboration have to do with briefs?
- How long should a brief be?
- What should the deliverable be?
- How do you come up with a great tagline?
And as always, if you need help in building your Marketing Smarts, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at: ForthRight-People.com.
Check out the episode, show notes, and transcript below:
- 4 Ways to Write an Effective Creative Brief with Howard Ibach, Creative Brief Workshops
- [0:00] Welcome to Marketing Smarts
- [0:30] Anne Candido, April Martini
- [0:34] How do you write effective creative briefs?
- [0:38] P&G (Procter & Gamble)
- [1:52] Client vs. Agency
- [1:55] Learn more about Howard at CreativeBriefWorkshops.com and on LinkedIn
- [2:32] ANA (Association of National Advertisers)
- [2:57] The Brief Bros., Henry Gomez
- [3:32] Direct Marketing
- [6:42] Make sure you know your brand
- [8:31] Podcasts, Netflix, Amazon Prime, The Wire
- [9:34] Albert Einstein
- [9:54] Apple, iPhone, Nike
- [12:17] Tide
- [12:51] Sir John Hegarty
- [18:36] Build in the amount of time you need for real collaboration
- [19:52] KPIs (Key Performance Indicators)
- [22:05] How many times have you seen a great creative brief in the past year?
- [30:19] Marketing Smarts is sponsored by ScottMautz.com. Scott Mautz is a popular keynote speaker and #1 bestselling author whose latest book and talk Leading from the Middle helps middle managers dramatically increase their influence up, down, and across their organization. Want your company’s middle managers and leaders equipped to foster a high-performing organization? Want them inspired to drive the change and transformation that’s a challenging necessity moving forward? Go to ScottMautz.com to check out Leading from the Middle and all of Scott’s keynotes, trainings, courses, and books
- [31:09] The brief should be a single page
- [32:01] Demographics
- [34:05] Leo Burnett, Tony the Tiger, NyQuil
- [39:52] Was the NyQuil brief 1 page?
- [40:53] Mad Men
- [42:57] Target Audience
- [43:25] Got Milk?
- [44:26] A Technique for Producing Ideas by James Webb Young
- [46:37] Make the deliverable of the creative brief an idea
- [47:28] TikTok
- [47:54] QR Code Super Bowl Ad
- [49:00] Upfronts
- Final Thoughts
- [57:18] What are Howard’s final thoughts?
- [58:22] Product vs. Service
- [58:42] M&M’s
- [1:00:07] Learn more about Howard at CreativeBriefWorkshops.com and on LinkedIn
- [1:01:15] Recap: How do you write effective creative briefs?
- [1:01:46] Make sure to follow Marketing Smarts on your favorite podcast spot and leave us a 5-star review on Apple Podcasts
- [1:01:57] Learn more at ForthRight-People.com and connect with us on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn
- [1:02:01] Sign up to view all the ForthRight worksheets & tips for FREE!
- [1:02:07] Shop our Virtual Consultancy
What is Marketing Smarts?
From brand-building and marketing veterans Anne Candido and April Martini comes a podcast committed to cutting through all the confusing marketing BS so you can actually understand how to take action and change your business today. They deep-dive into topics most would gloss-over, infusing real-world examples from their combined 35+ years of corporate and agency experience. They tell it how it is so whether you are just starting out or have been in business awhile, you have the Marketing Smarts to immediately impact your business.
How do I exercise my Marketing Smarts?
Thanks for listening to Marketing Smarts. Get in touch here to become a savvier marketer.
Please note: this transcript is not 100% accurate.
Anne Candido 0:02
This is Marketing Smarts – a podcast committed to helping you become a savvier marketing leader, no matter your level. In each episode, we will dive into a relevant topic or challenge that marketing leaders are currently facing. We will also give you practical tools and applications that will help you put what you learn into practice today. And if you missed anything, don’t worry, we put worksheets on our website that summarize the key points. Now, let’s get to it. Welcome to Marketing Smarts! I’m Anne Candido. And I am April Martini. And today we’re going to talk about how to write an effective creative brief. So when I was at P&G, this is probably one of the most controversial topics because we always debated how much does the agency really need to know what kind of guidelines we need to give them? How do we make sure they can still be creative? But without going way out into left field? How do we know the work is good. And I will tell you, there was absolutely no silver bullet. And there was no one single format that worked every time. Yeah, and
April Martini 1:00
as the receiver of said, briefs, I can tell you that the frustration for us on the agency side came against the same questions, we would either feel like we just got to dump a bunch of information with no focus, no goals, no success criteria, or on the other side of that we were given so very little, that we really had nothing to go on. And then there was everything in between. So to Anne’s point about format, the formats we got were all over the board, depending on the clients, and then our creative teams, we get super frustrated, because they don’t want all the words, they just want to know the assignment and the parameters for the design. And it’s just it’s so very hard to serve so many masters with the brief. And that’s part of the fundamental problem, then not to mention, you have the two sides, client and agency which communicate very differently from each other. And it’s unfortunate, you can’t read minds, because that would make it a whole lot easier. Right. And for this topic, we’re bringing on a special guest Howard Ibach, he is the author, trainer, and the king of creative briefs that sell Hi, Howard, thanks for being on our podcast today. Would you like to introduce yourself?
Howard Ibach 2:01
Well, yes, thank you for having me on. I really appreciate it. I’m looking forward to this conversation. I have been doing this for quite a while. I’m a former creative copywriter and creative director, author of two books, as you said on the creative brief, but I’ve also put together a portfolio of workshops that I do for the Association of National Advertisers, the ANA, I’m a faculty member of their marketing training and development center. Kind of a mouthful. I also do independent training for companies that come to me that are not members of the ANA. And I do a blog, a weekly blog on the topic. And today, as I was saying to you before we hit record, my podcast co host, Henry Gomez and I dropped our 100th episode of a brief of a podcast via podcast we called The Brief Bros. So I talk I know a little bit about briefs. But if you had told me this, if you’d said, Howard, you’re going to be recognized as the, as an expert, a subject matter expert on creative briefs, if you told me that, at the beginning of my career, I would have said, Okay, that’s not really what I had in mind when I got into this because I love being a creative. But it turns out that my analytical side, I find it very appealing because I also went into direct marketing, I did a lot of direct marketing and direct response work as a creative. And the measurement side of our field. Our industry is also quite fascinating to me. I want to do creative work that sells David Ogilvy used to say if it doesn’t sell, it’s not created, I’m afraid. I’m definitely afraid that that sentiment has gone by by in our industry today, people are more interested in selling social justice than they are in selling toothpaste. And we have to remember that we’re in this business to sell toothpaste, and we’re an important cog in the industry and in the invite economy for doing that. So what’s the best way to sell great quantities of toothpaste, you really got to know your brand, and that’s articulated in the creative brief. I got into this when I caught my staff at an agency where I was working, cutting and pasting the client’s mark on brief. That was their name marketing communications brief, yeah, directly into our creative brief template without changing a word. So that kind of hits me off. I mean, I was well, I was well into my career. I was like, 20 some years into my career. I was a creative director at this time. But I recognized that this was a big problem. And I love to tell the story because I went to my bosses. I went to my immediate boss, Creative Director and her boss was the Executive Creative Director at the agency where I was working at the time in Minneapolis. And I said, I caught my staff doing this. I want to do some training around the creative brief. And I kid you not before I go got the whole sentence out of my mouth? They said, Please, would you do that? Would you please do some training, because they recognize this as a problem too. But who has time to do this anymore? Back in the day, the 70s and 80s ad agencies put this on the as responsibility for themselves to train their staff. They trained copywriters, they trained art directors, they trained account management folks, and they trained strategists, and to do that anymore. So there’s very few opportunities that’s changing, thankfully. And that’s one of the things that I do. I got tired of reading bad briefs. I didn’t know what a good brief was. I did what any good student does, I went to school, and going to school was, I read books like this one, which we talked about, you know, John Hegarty, and John Steele’s truth lies in advertising. And I read everything I get my hands on, I talked to strategists. And I figured out what a good brief was, I found examples of good briefs, not blank templates, but really well done briefs, and they’re not easy to find. And that’s how I built this training around how to write I call it an inspired creative brief. I think that’s more than you. It’s more than you asked me to answer.
Anne Candido 6:10
Well, it provided a really good overview, and you hit on a lot of the key points that we’re going to talk about today, which but I think the backstory really sets up probably the challenge that a lot of folks are facing still today with regards to the creative brief. So I think that was a really good, really good setup for a lot of things that we’re going to talk about. And I think you’ve hooked everybody, because everybody’s like nodding their heads. Yes, yes, yes, yes, not just tell me what it is, right. So let’s jump into how to write an effective or inspirational creative brief. And you already talked about this as being the most fundamental thing is make sure you know your brand. Now you, as you said, Howard, you can’t write an effective brief, if you don’t know your brand. I mean, this is more than just the visual and verbal Toolkit, which is what a lot of people describe the brand as, but your brand is so much more than that. It’s your brand is how it actually comes across in the world to your consumer, your customer, your client. So people are going to experience your brand in certain ways, and you need to be able to articulate what those ways are. So why do people use it? Why do people want it? Again? How do they talk about it? How do they experience it? What can they expect from it? How is it different? And most importantly, how do they feel about it, or how does the brand make them feel? Now it’s very hard to create compelling creative around a product benefit, because the power of the creative is eliciting emotion. So you have to get to that impact that your brand has, in order to be able to really effectively create inspirational, creative. And if you haven’t figured out what that is, you really, really need to do the work in order to be able to articulate those things, or else you’re not gonna be able to write an effective creative brief. And then once you know your brand, you should be able to simply and clearly articulate it, this is the other struggle a lot of people have, if you can’t seem succinctly do this, you will struggle with developing a creative brief because you have to be brief in your brief, so it needs to be sustained in order to translate your brand. Because remember who this is for this is for people who have very short attention spans. I mean, long form creative now is like a one to two minute video. And we’re still
Howard Ibach 8:14
going to I’m going to stop I’m going to stop you. I reject the premise that we have short attention spans. And the proof is what we’re doing right now long form podcasts. People are listening to them in the millions, the 10s of millions. We also binge watch on Netflix and Amazon Prime. So anyone with a short attention span is not going to sit in front of the TV and watch 17 episodes of The Wire back to back. Right. I listen to podcasts myself, I have a host of podcasts. So I reject the notion that we have shorter attention spans. That’s just evidence does not back that up. But I also want to back up and ask a question that I think comes even before the questions, all the great questions that you asked him. And that is, can you even describe your brand I’ve described discovered in my training, and I don’t I don’t point fingers of blame at anyone. This is just a challenge that we all face. Everyone I’ve ever encountered in my training is really good at describing their product. They know exactly what their product is. But I say okay, describe your brand. They go up and they end up describing the product mistakenly as their brand. So I do this challenge. I’m gonna tell you what the challenge is. I do a little bit of a challenge in my workshop. It’s called the Albert Einstein challenge. I don’t mind sharing this with you because I want you to do it at home. You can do this unsupervised it won’t hurt you. Don’t do it climbing a ladder please. I asked participants to take first I do it in two parts. I said tell me a brand that you love that you use every day your favorite grandparent Levi’s and Apple iPhone. Maybe you love Nike shoes, something that you love and use every day. Albert Einstein is famous for having said if you can’t explain it to a kid, you don’t understand it yourself. So here’s the challenge, take this brand, this favorite brand that you love. And maybe you were a zealot about describe that brand to a kid in language that a kid would understand. And I say, Okay, go off and do this. And I have them pair up with two or three people. So they have a little bit of help. And they come back. And they still have a tendency to describe their product, what the product is, rather than what the brand is. So and you said earlier that you need to take a you need to find a product benefit. Not every product has a benefit. Right? Before we started this call, I was on the phone with the major insurance company because I’m getting a new quote from my auto insurance. We all we all love to hate having to do. Oh, yeah. And what’s the difference? Tell me what’s the difference between GEICO State Farm Progressive Liberty Mutual? What’s the difference? What this one what is the point of differentiation? I love to hear that I hear that all the time. When I do trade, we have to figure out what the point of differentiation is. Okay. What’s the point of courage differentiation between GEICO Progressive State Farm and Liberty Mutual?
Anne Candido 11:09
The experience you have with them is really the only point of differentiation you get, because it’s a commoditized is the same. Yeah,
Howard Ibach 11:15
it’s parity. The only point of differentiation is the brand. And Byron sharp is famous for having written a book called How brands grow. I don’t really read a lot of marketing, but my podcast partner Henry Gomez is a strategist. And He is a devotee of Byron Sharp and he applies Byron Sharp’s principles. He said, really what makes the difference between one brand and another is mental availability, where you’re where you’re in the environment where you buy, the product you’re gonna go to buy grocery store is a great example. When you walk into the grocery store, and you got to buy a new, whatever, and you don’t know which product or which brand to get. What do you rely on? What’s the last time I saw a TV spot or a magazine ad for x? Or have I heard of it before? Or have I heard of it before? Right, you walk down the detergent aisle, and it’s basically orange,
Anne Candido 12:07
yellow. Now your
Howard Ibach 12:09
P&G, right? It’s basically orange Tide, essentially owns, from top to bottom every shelf. There are other products out there. I’m not trying to denigrate any other products. But that’s the one that occupies both shelf space and our mindspace. Right. So mental availabilities, that thing that we have, that’s what’s the difference between one brand and another. You don’t go relying on reasons to believe points of differentiation. So when I asked these participants to describe their brand, they they stumble, it’s hard to do. Now, I was talking before about John Hegarty is whose book Hegarty on advertising is a bible where anybody in the creative world, he posed an interesting question about this, which I want to share with you today. He said, What is the most not the most famous but the most effective brand ever on the planet? And you said, Well, some people might say it’s Volkswagen. They’ve done some great advertising. They might some might say it’s it’s Apple. They’ve done some great advertising. Some might say it’s Nike. They’re iconic in the environment today. But Sir John Hegarty says, I think it’s the Catholic Church.
Anne Candido 13:20
I’ve heard that one before. Yes. The government but I was Yeah. He’s not
Howard Ibach 13:26
talking about this from a religious perspective at all. They’re brand new. He said, What is the logo for the Catholic Church? It’s a simple cross. And who’s the spokesperson for the Catholic Church? Well, it’s the Son he says, it’s the son of the founder. Right? Right. What is the brand promise? I can say it in two words, and this is describing the brand everlasting life, believe in me, and you will have everlasting life. Now, I’m not talking about what you believe what you don’t believe. You know, I have my own personal faith. I don’t have religion, but I have faith. But in terms of how we understand what a brand is, Sir John, I think nails it right on the head. So if you have a, if you have a struggle, if you struggle describing your brand, you are going to in fact, have a hard time. In fact, I don’t know if it’s possible to write a creative brief, but that doesn’t stop people from writing briefs. We all know this.
April Martini 14:19
Yeah. Yeah. Well, that’s exactly right. And I mean, as a fellow creative, I will say, although you can, you can argue that I guess of the strategy versus the creative side of the world, right. But as an agency person, I mean, I think that that was always one of the hardest things. And you know, you mentioned training folks and making sure that people actually understand the business and how some of that has gone away, quite frankly, and I tend to agree with you. And so I think what you have happened is it just becomes something else that folks have to check off their list. And so when we think about the brand level of things, the brief never gets there because they’re just listing off the assignment quote, unquote, instead of actually the brief associated with the brand and what we’re trying to deliver. And number one, that’s not inspiring to any creative team that I know. But it also completely misses the mark of what we’re supposed to do on the agency side for our clients, which is deliver that brand live lead creative, because whether whatever level they appreciate or understand brand, it’s our job to do what is right for them against their brand, no matter whether they know they really need it or not. And then it becomes the seventh, of course,
Howard Ibach 15:28
what you need before that is the strategy. Right? The other challenge that I face in my training is that marketers who are responsible for our debrief and let me just be clear, most of the people that I trained are marketers, I do very little training with ad agencies themselves. Okay, so the other side, unless it’s an in house ad agency, and if it’s an in house, edit and see, sometimes they do, in fact, have strategists who are responsible for writing briefs, but not all of them do. So they’re missing that little piece of the puzzle, the title or the responsibility of writing a brief with having had training and writing a brief. So marketers who don’t have that training, come into it at a disadvantage. And so that’s why I emphasize collaboration, when you write a brief, you should work with another marketer, because two brains are better than one. When Bill Bernbach was alive and kicking and setting standards, setting high standards for the golden age of advertising, he did something that no one had ever done before. But now it’s something we take for granted. It took a copywriter, and an art director putting together and called the creative team, believe it or not, that didn’t exist, you know, pre 40s, pre 50s. Now, it’s just the way of the world. So I say, let’s learn from what Phillip Bernbach said and do the same thing for writing a brief. Now this is only in a in a in a situation where there are no strategists. Because the thing is that a marketer has many things to do in a day, besides write a brief. So if you sit down with a second marketer, and do this as a team, and then loop in a creative, you must get a creative involved, usually like a creative director, or a high level, an ACD, a creative director, group, Creative Director, something like that. And one that has a strategy. Well, someone who can respond what you’ve got, who can help you say in a better way, what you’ve tried to say even an art director, Creative Director, is going to be really good at being your BS detector. That’s what I used to say my art director partner, when I was a working creative was always my BS detector. I never showed an idea to anyone, unless my art director partner, but it was at least met. There was possibility. If there was, we could make it work. She’s Yeah, okay. We’ll put this in the in the hopper, right. But
April Martini 17:42
it’s a slam dunk from the most critical creative member that Oh,
Howard Ibach 17:46
no, I wanted her I want to hurt my my best partners, were always women, I wanted her to give me the thumbs up. And then I knew that I could talk about what somebody else we could share with the creative director and at the same thing has to be true when you’re writing a brief, you can’t write this all by yourself, because you’re lost in your head.
Anne Candido 18:01
That’s your second point. So let’s make it into the second point, because I think this is a really good conversation. If I let you guys go, Well, I know how this these creatives operate. But the second point is of how to write an effective creative brief is to build in the amount of time you need for real collaboration. And this is what Sandra just hitting on in, you’ve made really, really fantastic points. However, this is not an exercise, it can be done in like 20 minutes by one person. And you definitely shouldn’t treat it like a cut and paste job from your previous brief or from the mark on brief. And then because a tendency is does that on the client side, especially for one person to create a draft, and then they pass it on to the next person to build on their part and add comments and, and it kind of goes through that sequential process. And it a lot of times it happens like that on the agency side too. And I’ve seen the SEC same thing where the account person takes and transcribes the client brief, and then he just delivers it to the creatives. And the problem with this, and you guys mentioned it is that it pulls out the most important thing that a brief needs to have. And that’s collaboration, right? Is this people talking to each other. And it’s the discussion that is really, really essential in order to create a really strong creative brief. And now, this conversation needs to occur twofold. And if I was still on my Tide box, I would say I don’t understand why you have to have the two conversations. But you guys are gonna argue with me about this, I’ll just let you have it. But first is on the client side where you know, there has to be this some level strategic conversation among critical stakeholders about two critical points versus what is the work gonna do for the business? What do we even need it for? And you need to be as specific as possible so you can have the right criteria for which to evaluate the work because if you don’t, the discussions become very subjective as versus objective of whether or not you actually have good creative. It’s all about KPIs, right. Yeah. Well, it can be KPIs, or at least like what I what is my business going to do as a result, so at least understanding the impact that you want the business to have and then It has to be drilled down to KPIs at some level so that you can understand if the creative was affected, because then also there’s the audience. And that’s the second critical point, which is that what does the consumer customer client need to feel and believe, for the work to deliver for the business? So those things need to work together in order for the brief to have the full impact that it needs. And it goes back to, you know, we’re selling business here, we’re not just created, created for the sake of getting awards and all those sorts of things. Is that nice and plays nice, yes. But at the end of the day, we’re selling business. And that is the second conversation that needs to have, which is on the agency side, which is like, Okay, how are we going to instill the creative in order to be able to sell business so that our client is happy. And that’s where I love what you said about you get the strategist, a creative, you get these people together, and you have that discussion and that conversation. And those things take time that that process takes time, and you need to let it have its time.
Howard Ibach 20:57
Abraham Lincoln is famous for having said, if you’re given me six hours to cut down a tree, I’m going to use the first four hours to sharpen the axe, right? So what I say is, if you whatever amount of time you are now being allowed, which is basically what it is, is that what I take is what you’re being allowed to write a brief multiplied by five. And when I hear is I’m usually given an hour. So even five hours is too little, you should get a week, you don’t need to extend the deadline. Just take the amount of time you usually get this to write a brief and triple it. Because what happens is you if you are more prepared, if it’s a tighter brief, you’re not going to be sending the work back for reduce. So the deadline doesn’t have to change. The problem I hear now is how many times work is sent back because it isn’t what it was supposed to be. I asked a question or ask Chris start with a credit. I said creatives, how many times have you seen an inspiring creative brief in the last year, one out of 10 times three out of 10? Seven out of 10? Do you think they said? None, barely one out of 10? Maybe one out of 10? I asked marketers I said how many times do you see work exactly the way you want it in the first round are not a 10, three out of 10, seven out of 10. Sometimes they say three out of 10. Sometimes they’ll say always Wow. But it’s I’m skeptical. The point the point is that if you don’t take the amount of time to get this right, you’re gonna pay for it in the end garbage in garbage out. So that’s why you should never read a document by yourself. Now, when I asked the marketers who write the briefs, I said, How much do you collaborate with your ad to report this? Oh, yeah, of course I do. I so tell me what that is. Oh, I write a draft for the brief. And then they send that around to people for their comments. Yep. So who gets who gets it? Well, usually my boss, I said, you know, what happens? Your desktop collaboration? That’s an exercise in masochism. Because now you have, if you send it out to four people, or three people or five people, you have to figure out whose comments take precedence whose comments have priority? Well, of course, we know the answer that your boss’s comments are going to be more important than your coach, your coworker. Right?
April Martini 23:01
Your boss is actually probably less involved in the process and the week, the happiness
Howard Ibach 23:06
and the audience of the brief is who the creatives. But now when you send this off to your boss for his or her comments, the audience changes. It’s no longer the creatives, it’s the boss who you have to satisfy. And it can’t you have to loop in a creative because a creative is going to do the BS detecting that you need to help you fashion the words to help you get to the point. Now creative is also going to tell you and one of the things I do in the training is I don’t care about KPIs. I’m not interested in KPIs. Because I haven’t got an idea yet. How are you going to measure the success of a campaign you haven’t got the idea yet. So I don’t focus on KPIs and the best briefs. And the briefs that I use to train don’t even have KPIs. Now, I also operate in a world where marketers are the audience for my training. So I say, Look, this is where page two comes in. You can have a page to debrief with the KPIs on page two. Creatives don’t need to know what the marketing objectives are either. Put that on page two, we don’t need to know what the budget is put that on page two. We don’t need to have the mandatories. And the copy points within a page two, the creative brief is designed to get good thinking, thinking first tactic seconds. That’s when I’m teaching. So how do you get to a brief that’s only one page, you eliminate this stuff? Or you put it on page two? Because I promise you, creatives are looking for only a handful of things. They want to know why are we doing this? What’s the point of the advertising? What is our objective? Who are we talking to? What do we have to say? That’s it. That’s all they need to know. The other stuff is important because yeah, the document is for creatives, but it’s actually a document for the whole team. It’s a rallying documents so that we believe in the brand. The creatives are looking for only a handful of things. So that’s how you keep a brief short.
April Martini 24:53
One, I feel like you know, and this gets a little bit into semantics probably but there’s also different versions of briefs you Yeah, there’s a lot of things called a brief that isn’t necessarily a brief, right. So when we talk about this level, it is the actual big idea, part of the creative process. And I think you’re right in, give them enough information so that they know who we’re targeting. And then it becomes the checks and balances of the team, which is where my role always was a strategist, to ensure that we’re not limiting the creative thinking, but we’re not putting anything in front of clients, either. That’s tone deaf, and that wouldn’t make any sense. And so I feel like to the point of collaboration on the front end, and making sure that you have folks creating the brief together, then it’s on the back end, when the creative comes back to ensure that, okay, this is tight as an idea. It has legs. It’s not, there’s nothing in there that the clients are immediately going to be able to reject it. There’s all of that kind of stuff that I think comes into play. But I think your point is well taken. And this was always a point of tension between me and the creative designers, was, you know, don’t limit me don’t put handcuffs on. But on the other side, I would say yeah, but also, we’re selling something on the other side of this. So this isn’t fine art. This is graphic design. And well,
Howard Ibach 26:11
as a former creative, I still have to acknowledge a very simple fact, I’m not an artist. I’m a commercial artist, right? And I do have to sell. The creative brief is designed to put me in a box. It’s designed to constrain my thinking, because that’s what releases the imagination. This is an ancient concept. This is nothing new. I mean, Michelangelo, Michelangelo understood this Michelangelo used to say, or at least his his notebooks revealed that when he when he stood in front of a brand new piece of marble, he saw the piece of art within it. And his job was to remove the excess. Yes. And that’s what we have to do. We are business people trying to solve a business problem using creativity. Right. So the brief has to articulate what is it that I’m trying to accomplish? Why the heck are we bothering to do this? What is the problem that we’re trying to solve? And, you know, I’ve done training, where we have spent two hours arguing about what is the problem for this, we do a we do a pretend brief, we write a brief together in the longest version of my training, and I get a case study from the company that I’m working with. And we could spend an hour and a half to two hours trying to figure out what the problem is, because there’s no agreement on that you can’t figure out what the problem is, how do you write a brief. So this really is a forced exercise in constraining your thinking, because that’s what creators need creators want to say, Don’t put me in a box. And I say you need to be put into a box, because your best thinking comes when you’re forced to rebel against the constraints of this brief. Now, my, my podcast, buddy, Henry Gomez, he’s the Director of Strategy at zubi advertising. In Miami, he likes to say that there are times doesn’t happen a lot. But there are times when I write a brief, I think it’s an inspiring brief. And I’ve collaborated with the credit director, we’re all on board, he sends the work off the brief off to his teams. And they come back with an idea that is far afield, from what the brief call for. And what Henry says is, from time to time, I look at the the work. And I’ll say, I have to redo my brief because that’s better than what I was asking you to do. You stumbled across a great idea inspired by this brief. But it doesn’t reflect the strategy of this brief. So I’ll change the brief before I’m gonna ask you to change the creative, because I think the creative solves the problem. So what he’s saying is a good brief letter, in addition to being a good writer must also be humble and accept the fact that the creative process is a little magical. It’s alchemy, it’s kind of hard to explain, it’s just you walk down the path, and you turn take a right turn, and all of a sudden, you’re in someplace else that you never expected. But that’s what you have to come to respect. So these are the things that that take this up, you take the subjectivity of the of the creative work, and you try to fit it into some kind of objective measurement. And then for the brief is supposed to is supposed to help you. I love to quote Henry, because he’s taught me so much, because he writes briefs for a living. And I try to I steal from him all the time and use it in my training. He says, When I write a product, when I write the customer description, what I try to do is create using words a costume that the creatives can put on and see the world through the eyes of that customer. And I love that it’s articulates exactly what it is when I have to be able to empathize with that. A woman who’s buying Tide detergent, or a man who’s buying a new car, I have to see the world through their eyes. And that target description requires that kind of creativity. It’s not just a series of bullet points. That’s why you know, I hate when I see creative briefs that are just bullet points household income, education age. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never met someone who’s 18 to 54. Right? You send me an 18 year old and a 54 year old are gonna have something in common. Maybe they’re both men, maybe they’re both women, right? You don’t write to someone who’s 18 to 54, you write Are you concept to one person,
Anne Candido 30:19
that third one here at the break should be a single page and, and you lose that in what I want to get into. And really, like sharp and in on is the reason why. And really, it’s because as you guys have discussed, this is credibly all a person can really internalize, and what’s more, and then you just really hitting on this, it has to be more story narrative base, because that’s what actually allows somebody to really get into mind that heads the experiences, the hearts of the person that you’re trying to reach. And you’re trying to immerse that created in that experience. So and it may not be as close to it as you are. So by telling the stories, you can help them bring it to life for them. So you’re gonna want to tell stories about the audience that you just said, like, what is that woman who is buying Tide detergent? Who is she? What it How does she behave? What is she concerned about? How is she feeling? And this is not a demographic standpoint, because I agree with you. Like I say that all the time. I’m like me in in April, on the same demographic, we have totally different perspectives and totally different needs right. Now, the other story is the environment or the context that that the creative is going to be going into, I mean, you have to kind of understand the experiences of what this person is your target is going to be experiencing. So you can effectively think about how that’s going to be translated, your idea is going to be translated into that environment. How your audience feels and does as a result of your creative execution. What do you want them to go? Do? What how do you want them to behave? What do you want them to say? Then how to brand and business transforms as a result, I think sometimes they miss the story, because we stop at what we want, which is we want them to buy what we’re selling, but we forget to think about, okay, once we get there, how is the brand that A B then how’s that brand going to transform? What’s the new experience for the brand going to be? And where’s the next step beyond that? And as you said, and I totally agree. I mean, this is not language, marketing language or business speak, this isn’t bullets. This isn’t like the KPIs. This isn’t like, you know, the specific mandatory, it’s all those things that you said, you know, go on page two. And they’re not like it’s not important. That’s what those things are important to the client and reflective, but those are more of like, how you evaluate the ideas versus what goes into the idea of themselves.
Howard Ibach 32:32
I think you touched on this point about what kind of language do you use in a creative brief, it’s everyday conversational language. And every every mark on Bri, if I’ve ever read from the client is full of marketing speak. And acronyms and insider lingo. Yeah, it’s just everybody falls into it. Everybody’s guilty of this. I’ve done it. No one’s innocent. But no one has a monopoly. on doing this. Everybody does it. In fact, just today, I was looking at a website for a company that I’m going to do some training for. It’s a very big ad agency with a worldwide presence. And I don’t know what it is about ad agencies, but they use this language that means it’s just like, transformational and experiential. And it’ll and he goes like, it’s like, just come on, tell me what it is that you do. So this is from a creative brief, written by Leo Burnett, a quintessentially stellar packaged goods ad agency in Chicago, really, I mean, they created Tony the Tiger. They’ve just done so much iconic work. And this is from a brief for a product we’ve all heard and you I use this myself, it’s called Nyquil. It’s a nighttime cold medicine. And this is actually a long section. So I won’t read the whole thing to you, but this is from their creative brief, in answer to the question, Where are we talking to and pay attention to how this is written and how well this is written? This is writerly. Right, this is creative. Who are we talking to? And the answer is cold sufferers. You know how you feel when you’ve got that cold. That pathetic little inner child of yours suddenly wakes up and before you know it, you’re moaning and whining you’ve gone all whiny and wimpy all snuggle snot and slovenly Red Rock, puffy eyes pale skin landcare everything seems to be sagging. You feel like something from a Salvador Dali painting? You want to snuggle up in bed and dammit, you want your mummy? But it’s not fair. Is it because no one else takes your suffering seriously. Good god Pull yourself together. Man. We’re not puking leprosy here. Don’t be such a baby. Get on with it. Stop moaning. Yes, your instincts tell you to be a child but you’re not allowed to because you’ve only only got a cold. So what’s beautiful about this? This isn’t. He’s 54 to 75 it doesn’t it’s not man or woman. It’s that age group. It’s not education. It’s not income. This is what happens when you get a call. Now I like to say when I read this in my training, so this is basically describing guy because we turn into big old babies. And every woman in the room nods their head says yes. And all the guys kind of like, Yeah, well, you know, the point is, this is empathetic, the brief writer knows who he or she is talking to. And as I would say, it’s done what Henry, my partner, my cut podcast partner is trying to do creates a kind of costume that we can put on and understand we meaning creatives, I understand who I’m talking to, and it has nothing to do with the nuts and bolts of a demographic or psychographic. This is just what happens when you get sick. And I empathize with that. So that’s an example of no marketing speak. It’s creative. I also asked people who listen to this, do you think that’s a first draft? No way? I really no, no, this is well written. This is someone who probably went through this and tightened it up and edit it and and changed it and, and does what a great writer does never submits a first draft. So does this something you can whip out in 20 minutes, I would say that even a 30 year veteran would never even consider doing it. A newbie, maybe we didn’t want this to sit you want you want to write this out? And we’ll put it aside, go do something else come back to it later and say What else can I add to this or take away? Now this is a very long I didn’t I read only two thirds of the description it goes on from the paragraph. But you got the point from the two thirds that I read. Nevertheless, a creative reading that is going to know exactly who he or she is going to write and concept and think of big ideas for and that’s what we need to ask of our brief voters, you need to commit to this, not as a form to fill out. This is not a driver’s license application, you’re filling out where you know all the answers before you start. This is a thinking document you need to stop, take a moment discuss, go back and forth. And it’s really fascinating. When I do the training, and I break people into small groups, and they write a draft of a brief. And I mix creatives with marketers, they come back to me and I before I even ask them to tell me what you know, what’s your answer to this question? I said, Well, what was it like collaborating like this, they said, Oh, I had no idea how the creatives think I learned something the way the creatives or the creative see, the marketers had some really interesting ideas, I never thought about it that way. And the other thing is, they said, when I collaborate, it takes the pressure off me, it’s not just me having to write this, I’ve got someone who can, can bounce my ideas off of and one person takes the responsibility of kind of being the scribe, and that’s fine. That’s kind of the way it should be. But when you collaborate, all of a sudden, you’ve got the benefit of two, maybe three other people, it makes the process fun, you get it done quicker, you get more ideas, and when you tell the world and then once you tell your boss I’m collaborating with with Bill and Susie, then I think they respond differently to the draft. It’s not like it’s just you and they can’t say well, she’s only been on the job for three months. So I can’t expect much. But if you if you’re only been on the job for three months, and you’ve looped in a marketer who has been there for two years, all of a sudden, you start to have the more street cred. So it’s this is the benefit of collaborating. This is the benefit of using everyday language, this is the benefit of thinking your way through the document. And you come up with a better clearer and then if you get a creative involved, who can help you polish or confirm. Yeah, I liked that. Thank you. And the other thing I like to say you can always make a lot of money with a from a career creative department when you invite them to play poker, because we have terrible poker faces. Right? Which do a terrible poker face. So when you show them a brief, that’s really bad, you know, right away. But if you show them a brief that they like, what’s the first thing they’re gonna do? They’re gonna say, I can work with that. Or they start ideating right away. They start thinking whenever they can’t help it, but a bad brief and unclear brief. They’re gonna like, haters love to complain. Relatives love complaint. So the last thing you want is to have a complaint in creative. You want them to be working with a brief, instantly, looping them in asking for their feedback and getting them to help you write the brief that’s going to ensure that that’s makes the whole briefing process better, more fun.
April Martini 39:09
Was that NyQuil one, one page?
Howard Ibach 39:12
I doubt it because it was a three paragraph description. But you know, it’s from Leo Burnett, and it’s from Nyquil. And I’m going to cut them some slack.
April Martini 39:23
I think that’s fair, one of the Great’s can
Howard Ibach 39:24
break the rules from Absolutely, absolutely. You know, the thing about that, that you said, right, breaking the rules, you can’t break the rules. If you don’t know the rules, that isn’t exactly once you know, the rules will say, You know what, this product really deserves a three paragraph product, or customer description, and I’m gonna go ahead and do it. And it pays, this will have the audience or creatives can be a little jaded, so they might not laugh out loud the way we do and we read that I read this many, many times, and I still think it’s funny. But it it achieves its purpose, which is to give the creatives a very A clear three dimensional picture of who I’m talking to.
April Martini 40:03
Well, and I think, you know, you mentioned how some of this training doesn’t happen anymore. And I have to think, you know, I was a big fan of madmen. And that show really, I think, is quite truthful in the way that the industry used to be. But I think that some of those principles of stepping away, and giving it time to marinate and bringing in different people to discuss the challenge and brainstorming together, all of that is what gets you to the emotional space. And I think it’s part of it is the storytelling of the person. But I think too often on the bad briefs, what I would see is, there would be a run at it, it wouldn’t be 18 to 24, female, you know, head of household, any of that kind of stuff. But what it didn’t do was go far enough, because it would get to what they would quote unquote, call an insight, which would really be an observation, which is just a fact about the person versus creating the form of narrative that gets at the crux of the emotional pain, or whatever is going on, that’s going to make that person want what you’re selling.
Howard Ibach 41:01
Right. Right. The best briefs that I use, don’t even ask the question, what is the insight? The Insight is embedded in every answer? Exactly. Right. I came across a great exercise for the difference between a fact and observation and insight. And I came across when I was when I was reading work on Nokia as a dog food, I forget what I forget the brand. Now, the distinction was a fact is dog owners feed their dogs in the morning or in the evening. That’s a fact. The observation is dog owners feed their dogs in the morning and evening, because that’s when they eat. They have breakfast, so they have dinner. Now the instant what is the insight from these from this fabulous observation, the insight, not the insight, and insight, there’s no such thing as a single and one and only insight but an insight to these facts. And to this fact that observation is dog owners and people in general feel guilty eating in front of their pets. So they feed them when they eat themselves. So what can you do with that insight? And do you need to have that as a standalone Insider? Can you embed that into the answers of why are we advertising? What’s the objective? What do we know about our our target audience, I would say that would fit nicely into our target audience who say, you know, our target audience is a pet lover and pet lovers are different from other people. You know, they treat their pets or animals like children.
April Martini 42:27
That’s what I was gonna say the Actually, your insight there is the why do we do these behaviors because pet owners love their animals as if their children and so we our behaviors onto them?
Howard Ibach 42:38
Yeah, I mean, they’ve Got Milk? campaign is a fantastic example of a very simple, easy to overlook insight. And what they discovered that no one buys and drinks milk. By itself. It’s always milk and yeah, milk and cookies, milk and cereal, milk, and this milk and coffee milk. And, and the other insight was, we don’t think about until it’s gone. And that was the whole basis of the campaign. It’s one of those staples that it’s out there. It’s every day, but we just don’t think about it until we don’t have it. How many of us actually remember to buy milk? Before we run out? I’m sure there are. I’m sure there are some out there who are you know, anal retentive types like, Oh, I got three quarters of a gallon left. I need to buy two more. Okay, well,
Anne Candido 43:25
you’re gonna hear the kids complain when they don’t have any.
Howard Ibach 43:30
Right, right, exactly. Yeah.
Anne Candido 43:33
I’m gonna move on to the next point. But you held up a book. And for the listeners, what was the book that you held up?
Howard Ibach 43:38
It’s it’s a book called A Technique for Producing Ideas by James Webb’s Young James Webb Young, and it’s got the foreword by William Bernbach, which is why I got it 36 pages, there’s no excuse for you not be able to read this when you go have your morning constitution. Okay. It’s short, it’s fun. And I’ve given this copy as required reading for every every place where I’ve worked as creative director, he outlines he was the one he’s the first one, this isn’t the 1940s. And you’ll have to forgive him because he makes reference to our our dear President Franklin Roosevelt. It’s been in print since the 1940s. This is a guy who was a copywriter and ended up in the Hall of Fame, copywriting Hall of Fame, he broke down the process of that every human brain goes through to come up with an idea. It’s five steps. And if you work, if you read this and you understand how your thinking process works, you will understand where you are in the concepting concepting process. And that’ll help you become a better concept are. The first is gathering information, create a brief create a brief, the second is modeling all that information over processing. The third is step away, go do something else, which is why we all hear people say I have my best ideas when I’m walking the dog. I’m in the shower. I’m commuting to work, you’re not doing what you’re doing because you need to let the subconscious come into its work. Step four is that aha moment when all of a sudden that time where you’ve been walking away, produces the idea, step five is confirming the idea. You go to your art director, your copywriter, you get the BS detector, it’s either this or that. If it’s here, then of course, you know the Met, it’s got possibilities. If you don’t understand how the ID ideation process works, you, you may not know where you are in that process. And you may spend too much time in the mulling it over the thinking, and you turn into a pile of mush. You don’t know when to stop. So in understanding how that works, this is the difference between young creatives and mature creatives, which is why mature creatives can produce work in 10 minutes, that takes up a young, creative two hours. Yeah, yeah.
Anne Candido 45:48
That leads us into our fourth and final point about how to write an effective or inspirational creative brief and estimate the deliverable, the creative brief in idea, which I think you are just alluding to. And the biggest mistake I didn’t we see teams make is that they bypass the whole idea part in order to get to the shiny stuff, which is the execution, everybody likes to see execution, especially our bosses, and all the stakeholders and all the people who are writing the checks. The problem with that is that you start to evaluate the execution, while even thinking of the idea behind it actually delivers on the brief. So you’ve just totally just like major, brief or irrelevant. And this is actually I think one of the biggest failures of creative that I have seen from my side is it’s also why we see a lot of metoo behavior is when people feel compelled to show up, or others are just to be in the crowd, but they don’t develop the idea. In order for it to work for their brand in that platform. And tick tock is full of this, everybody just decided I’m going to jump into TikTok. I’m going to do that execution. But what is the idea that’s going to make that execution resonate and work where your brand? People don’t think about that? Or the flashy executions? I mean, the late using the latest tech with no substance, we see that a lot. I still recall the little bouncing QR code from the Super Bowl spot, which was like, What is even the point of that, that you just spend millions of dollars to go do. And when he asked somebody who the brand is everybody’s like,
Howard Ibach 47:10
you know, it happened to get lots it got lots of us, everybody loved it, a guy, lots of us right away loved it.
Anne Candido 47:15
But I wonder how much it actually translated into sales. Because we know the cryptocurrency market is a little bit rough. The lesson here is to ask your aims to bring ideas that deliver on the brief, they may want to show some executions, because sometimes that helps people internalize it or who are evaluated, but that shouldn’t be the deliverable of the brief. So how are what else do you have to say about this?
Howard Ibach 47:39
Well, but that is the deliverable of the brief. you hand me a brief, I’m gonna deliver you some ideas, and it might be an execution. Now, I still say that idea. First tactic second. And we all know I mean, I mean, the world is the world the way it is, it’s backwards, media goes out and buys, what it needs to buy, before the creative brief is even written. How do I even know what’s going to be TV spot? How do we even know what’s going to be a billboard? How do we even know it’s gonna be magazine ads? Well, because we bought the media a year in advance, we got a great deal. So I mean, upfront,
Anne Candido 48:10
right? It’s even like, like, upfront, it’s like, Okay, what’s the point of that?
Howard Ibach 48:15
But no one ever asked me and they never will. I have to accept the fact that I’m never going to be consulted on that. And that’s the way of the world but the fact remains, you cannot ask for tactics if you don’t know what the idea is, right? And that’s what happens. Marketers simply say, I want a video I want I want to five, five direct mail campaign. I want this, I want this. It’s like, okay, why? My first question is why? And sometimes the answer is, well, we did it last year
April Martini 48:43
or so. And so companies doing it that way or so if
Howard Ibach 48:45
everybody else is doing it this way together. What’s timeout Hold on a sec here. Let’s ask the question, what is your objective? What are you trying to do here? This is demonstrated by the fact that a global survey revealed no big surprise to creatives to know this, but revealed that 60% of marketers use the creative process to figure out the strategy. Yes, they don’t have a strategy before they even write a brief. Again, if you don’t understand your brand, you can’t. If you don’t have a strategy, you can’t write a brief strategy first brief second credit brief is a tactical document. It is the tactical execution of the strategy. Now, the best definition I’ve ever heard of a credit brief came in a training I did recently from a marketer, believe it or not, give him some prop. He said, a creative brief is the emotional translation of the strategy. What is the emotional translation of the six six words the emotional translation of the strategies and I said That’s brilliant, except when you don’t have a strategy. And when 60% of marketers in this global survey and we’re talking about this survey was conducted in Australia, New Zealand, you know, other States, Canada in the UK 60% of marketers admitted that they use the creative process to figure out what their strategy is. They send them out a brief, they see the work. It’s like, no, that’s not what I want. That’s not what I want. Oh, yeah, yeah, I think that’s what I want. Is that what I want? When I see it? I’ll know it when I see it. So if you don’t have a strategy, you know, I’ve seen every imaginable iteration of a brief where they say, Okay, we want to print in what a TV is called, we want radio, we want online, we want social, we went, Oh, that’s like, I get that. But let’s just get an idea first, but just have a driving idea. So that this thing can translate across the channels. And maybe we can eliminate some of these channels, because the idea isn’t going to work on we need a different idea. You know, Henry and I and our conversations, we’ve asked lots of questions like, Do you need a new brief? Every time you do another campaign for the same? If it’s if it’s a seasonal campaign that comes by every fall? Or every Easter? It’s the same sale? Then maybe the offer changes? Do you need a new brief for that so well, not necessarily, why go back to the, to the well, when the brief that you wrote, The first time was produced some good work, because every brief produces a ton of work that never gets past the creative director, much less to the client. Right. Now, that’s not to say that you need to resurrect the work, because you might, the nature of the agency world is that creatives are gonna move on. And so if you bring back the credit brief that you did last year, you may have a whole new set of team, you may have only one team that was there last year, and you’ve got two new teams. So you don’t need to write a credit briefing, that’s brand new for every new campaign, you also don’t need to add a credit brief for every project, you have to ask yourself, if I’m going to devote the time necessary to write a great brief, and it requires time, then say everything below this line is just gonna have a work order. And everything above this is going to have to have a brief. And maybe everything above this line that has the brief is attached in some way to the other things that won’t need a brief. Yeah, you’re just attached, you’re doing a demo. Because there’s no possible way for the incredibly hectic world that we live in where all the deadlines are three weeks ago, that you can devote the amount of time it’s required to do a brief for every project. So don’t try this will elevate the importance of that document and give it more cred. Okay, so you have to be judicious about when do you write a brief and when not?
April Martini 52:38
Well, and if your brief is brand led, and like we’ve talked about throughout this, you have the consumer narrative in there, and it comes off the page in a way that produces a real person, those things don’t change on a quarterly or project basis, those should be the foundation that are always there. And in fact, I mean, some of the best client work I’ve ever been on our clients that lasted years and years, but the richness of that brief stayed the same. And we were able to mature the brand and the experience because we were bringing that consumer to life and bring keeping them in the room for an ongoing amount of time to where the experience matured. And the consumer matured in the minds of those working on the business. And so the marketing and advertising got that much better. Because we were continuing to say and then what would they do next? And what would they do next? And when would we see the person didn’t change? The person became richer, and more.
Howard Ibach 53:36
I have kind of a rule of thumb, one product, one brief, one objective. One target audience, one single minor proposition. If you have to have any of those things, new project new brief. If you have segments do the second brief, right. I show I show a creative brief. It’s one of my favorite briefs. It’s written by the Richards group in Dallas, for an account. I don’t know if they have the account, they may not have the account still it’s for kiwi shoe polish. Yeah, right. It was an outdoor campaign, it was done in the 90s. So that it was a funny campaign. The humor doesn’t necessarily travel all that well, because the target audience was men. And a specific kind of a guy. It was a guy who really cared about how we looked. But for some but for one reason or another just kind of was oblivious to his shoes. So they were going to now can you think of another shoe polish besides kiwi?
April Martini 54:32
Not by the brand name now. Yeah,
Howard Ibach 54:35
exactly. So Kiwi probably is the market leader. They probably own the market so they can get away with doing stuff that a second or third or fourth place brand can’t get away with. So the brief was very short. It filled a page was 127 words. I know because I counted them. So I sometimes encounter pushback against this brief because they say well women buy shoe polish. I said yes Not really. Even if they did, they’re not targeting women for this brief. And they did it on purpose. Right? The best briefs are really focused, very narrowly focused, it’s to this group of men, it’s to this group of women, it’s the this group of children, some even go so far as to say, you know, I have a creative brief from the early 2000s. For a grocery store in the UK, it’s actually a frozen grocery store. And their target audience is mums. 895 to 90% of people who shop in grocery stores are women. And that’s just a fact of life is are they being sexist by identifying moms know they’re being smart, they know who their audience is, they’re talking to even a brief that’s 20 years old, which could be perceived as maybe sexist today, is spot on, because it knows its audience. And that’s what a brief writer must be aware of, you kind of have to put aside some other issues to say, who really uses this product? And then can you think like that person? Because if you can’t, you should let someone else write the brief.
Anne Candido 56:13
Yeah, I think that’s a really great way to wrap up the four points and head into our our final segment, which is generally when we talk about a brand who’s using or not using their marketing smarts. But when we have a guest, we assume that the person is using their marketing smarts. And I think this conversation has been one that totally exemplifies that. So however, they would just want to turn this over to you. And let’s have you take us home, like give us any other insight that you feel like maybe we’ve missed, we didn’t, we didn’t talk about here, a key theme Do you want somebody to take away and obviously, tell everybody where to find you?
Howard Ibach 56:47
Okay, first of all, there’s no such thing as a perfect roof. And let’s kind of take some pressure off ourselves and say, My objective is not to write this perfect document, it’s going to be imperfect. And again, I’ll quote my podcast buddy Henry Gomez, who says, My goal is to write an inspiring brief. But if I can’t write inspiring creative brief, at the bare minimum, I want to write a clear brief. Creatives can use a clear brief. So for example, I preach that if when you’re writing a single minded proposition, which is the kind of the heart and soul of the brief, it’s that one that’s that line, or a phrase that kind of summarizes, what’s the one thing about the product or service that I want to communicate to the to the audience so that to the customer, I like to see people really swing for the fences and try to write a headline prior to be headlining, some of the best single minor propositions have become public facing language. The one I like to cite is the chocolate milk chocolate that melts in your mouth, not in your hands. For m&ms, that was a single minded proposition on a brief became a tagline. In this next breath, I will say don’t put that kind of pressure on yourself every time. Because your objective is not to write a tagline, your objective is to write a clear phrase or sentence to tell the creatives, what it is that they’re trying to think about. So let’s not kid ourselves into thinking that we can write a perfect brief. And in fact, if you ask creatives, when was the last time they saw a perfect brief, they’d say, Well, I’ve never seen a perfect brief. And we’re gonna lose to that, quote, series of questions I asked earlier in our conversation. You know, when was the last time you saw an inspiring brief, it’s pretty rare. It’s very rare. But that doesn’t mean we can’t aspire to write better, clearer briefs. So don’t try to write a perfect brief. But when you collaborate with a small group, you’re going to get close to writing a clear brief. I’ve already I’ve already emphasized collaboration that I think is really, really fundamental. Give yourself enough time to do this. I just I think that people make the mistake, that a brief has to have everything. I guess I’ll close with this. I think it was Mark Twain who said I apologize for writing such a long letter. If I had more time, I would have made it shorter. Yeah, the question I get a lot is how do you know what’s the right amount of information? Talk to your creatives, they’ll tell you. They’ll tell you. They’ll help you write a single page brief. Because that’s all they want. Just give me the the nuts and bolts and I’ll take I’ll take it from there. Right.
Anne Candido 59:19
I love that. And Howard, where can they find you if they want to talk more about briefs?
Howard Ibach 59:24
Yeah, I do online roof training. And you can contact me through my website creative brief workshops.com. I’ve also that’s where I post the we post the the bike, the podcast. I have a weekly blog that I do. I’m going to be announcing soon that I’m starting a creative brief archive, there’s no place on the planet where you can go to look up creative briefs, that’s often there’s no central repository. And I think in the next month or so, I’m going to be launching the creative brief archive and will be housing creative briefs that I’m going to acquire I’m gonna put the word out to my friends in the ad agency world to help me because I can’t do this by myself, I need you to send me briefs, go back into your archives to the 60s in the 70s. When it’s no longer proprietary, I need to fill up my archive so that eventually, people can come and see that it’ll be free. All you got to do is register, but it won’t cost you a dime. And then of course, I do workshops for the ANA, you can reach me through the ANA if your company is a member.
Anne Candido 1:00:25
That’s perfect. Thank you so much. And so just to summarize how to write an effective and inspirational creative brief, make sure you know your brand, you can’t write an effective brief if you don’t know your brand, and how it exists in the world. Second, build in the amount of time you need for real collaboration. This is not an exercise that can be done in 20 minutes by one person, you need to have conversations. Third, the brief should be a single page creatively. This is all person can internalize and it should be more story narrative based and factual bullet points. And finally, make a deliverable of a creative brief and idea. The biggest mistake we see teams make is that they bypass idea to get to the shiny stuff, which is the execution and with that, we’ll say go and exercise your Marketing Smarts!
April Martini 1:01:05
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