Should the Creative Brief Change in the Always-On World?

Grimy Digital

In an edition of Firestarters, I was reading a topic near and dear to the hearts of all agencies: the creative brief. They had a few Industry leaders share how they’ve adapted creative briefs at their agencies to help drive projects in an always-on world.

Before we jump into discussing ways that the creative brief can change let’s look at a fundamental way a creative brief starts.

What’s a creative brief?

In the best cases, a creative brief is a document created through initial meetings, interviews, readings and discussions between a client and agency before any work begins. Throughout the project, the creative brief continues to inform and guide the work. A good creative brief will answer these questions:

• What is this project?

• Who is it for?

• Why are we doing it?

• What needs to be done? By whom? By when?

• Where and how will it be used?

Since advertising has radically shifted to be more agile, useful, and relevant in the always-on age of mobile. The foundation of creative work, the creative brief, remains largely unchanged. Mainly because the creative brief is like a tour guide for the work & tour guides rarely change.

So then, should the creative brief change in the always-on world?

The brief was designed for a world that no longer exists: a world of scarce media, in which brands could easily attract people’s attention with cleverness and creativity. Now, people have endless media options. And the consumer journey features hundreds of real-time, intent-driven micro-moments. Advertising must still be creative—but also relevant—in these moments to win hearts, minds, and dollars. So, yeah, the creative brief may need to change. But how does the creative brief need to change to keep up?

There where four suggestions given to help agencies adapt their creative brief to this ever changing landscape of endless media options.

1. Work in three-person teams

2. Develop mini creative briefs for your advertising

3. Plan for advertising creative beyond the launch

4. Spend more time making

All very good suggestions but a small nimble digital agency like C/W/I/P [cee-whip] will not do all four. So then, I suggest agencies like ours begin to implement the best option—number three. Why number three? Because it gives nimble agencies the best strategy and value to the client. Go back to review the questions that you’re trying to answer in the brief and review the venn diagram.

Planning for advertising creative beyond the launch uncovers hidden truths and apparent insights for the agency & provides criteria for evaluation for the client all the while preparing both parties for a nimble plan of action after launch. Plans can change quickly after launch. Thanks to the immediacy created by mobile video and social media, campaigns have become real-time conversations with always-on consumers.

The idea is that better work comes when teams think about what could happen next, instead of having to react in the moment. That’s a great idea and keeps the agency in the position that it rightly belongs.

Which parts of the suggestions would you use to adapt your creative brief to this ever changing landscape and why?


Written by: Jimmy Wardlaw, Jr., Chief Creative Officer, C/W/I/P, [cee-whip] digital agency