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Creating the Agency Brief
Merry Baskin Warc Best Practice June 2010
In the case of the latter. For these stakeholders. Downloaded from warc. In fact. An exaggeration. its additional role is to inform and inspire the creative team in equal measure. defining the role it has to play in addressing the brand's problem. This could be via a refocused interpretation of the brand benefi t or communications problem. Title: Author(s): Source: Issue: Creating the Agency Brief Merry Baskin Warc Best Practice June 2010 Creating the agency brief Merry Baskin advises planners on how to add value while nurturing breakthrough thinking when preparing the client brief for creatives.com 2 . for example. and then transcribing it into a brief for the creative team is the pivotal stage when the agency starts to add value. If shared with the client. non-conformist creative types? Planners are certainly trained to question everything in the client brief. perhaps. was transformed at the briefing stage from a car breakdown rescue service into 'Britain's fourth emergency service'. engaging. not to take anything at face value and to keep asking 'why?' like an annoying toddler. It has been said that 90% of the creativity in great communications is in the brief. breakthrough thinking that can really make a difference to a client's business. or an original insight into the consumer or a fresh lateral perspective on the category the brand is operating in. it marks the fi rst step towards meeting agreed objectives and demonstrates that the agency understands the problem. Why do agency planners find it necessary to rewrite the client communications brief. Distilling the communications strategy into the brief is an art in itself and demands intellectual skill. transcribe it into their own formats and fill out their little boxes with their special headings before handing it over to the creative department? Is it about control? Is it because client briefs are notoriously inadequate? Is it because clients don't know how to inspire those tricky. but it is the foundation for the disruptive. creative flair and discipline. to empower them to deliver more distinctive. developing the communications strategy. The AA. it forms an agreed basis for judging the output. creative solutions to brand problems more quickly than they would have otherwise. The fundamental role of both the client and the agency briefs is to make the process of developing brand communications more effi cient and effective.
It should hang together. The Single-Minded Proposition: being single-minded in your messaging ensures that consumers are more likely to take away a clear view of what you're offering. Creativity If there is a leap at the briefing stage. they have to communicate with real people. 'brief' means short Forget this at your peril. then you can't expect anything different from the creative team. Clients invariably ask for too much and sacrifi ces must be made. carefully chosen language. EVALUATING THE FORMATTING OPTIONS There are various schools of thought on how the brief should be formatted. if the brief is lacking imagination and flair. Most agencies have their own forms. What you say to people is not necessarily what they Downloaded from warc. as well as briefed. called the Critical Realism Framework. This has implications for how a campaign should be evaluated. Consistency of internal logic within the brief is essential. Use precise. Stimulus and Response: recognises that the consumer is not a passive.com 3 . There is also a new school emerging. creative people do not speak marketing or client jargon. a verb or an adjective. reflecting differences in philosophy about how communication works. They should not get too embroiled in the client's version of events. Or. Deciding what to leave out is tough. Clarity and simplicity are also crucial characteristics. put another way. building to form a complete picture. Saatchis in the 1980s) or Stimulus and Response (JWT). rational receiver of information but has a fundamental contribution to make in how communication is processed and interpreted – there is a complex set of interactive variables at work. because communication works in many different ways. Success is measured by people's ability to recall and replay this message. Advocates recognise the role of the sub conscious and emotions in how people process information and make decisions. with the pieces fitting snugly like a jigsaw. such as the Single-Minded Proposition (BBH. there is more likely to be a leap in creativity. British Airways Club World: communicates step change in product and service THE CREATIVE BRIEF'S CORE FOUR Cs Concise Whether it is a noun.
Whenever there is a new head of planning. forward-thinking Club World that really is in tune with what people want. casting. arrows. after all. Form. It should contain fresh insights – about the consumer. THE SEVEN COMPONENTS OF THE BRIEF 1. with thoughtful and genuine service. but that it is now feeling tired. The key message/proposition/stimulus/benefit/idea that you believe will engage the audience and persuade them/make this happen. The business background and commercial context of the assignment. hear. Downloaded from warc. to recharge your batteries (whether by catching up on work. A good brief must state the problem clearly – a problem well defined is a problem half solved. location and context – all contribute in their own right to any brand communication. or unwinding and relaxing) to be better able to face the tough business world again. So. and the less effective it will be. and long-haul travel offers an opportunity to escape from that stress.' 2. the less chance it will be noticed and taken on board. however. Increased preference/favourability is communication's true objective. music. competitive and insecure. gestures. or in economy. often reflecting a preference for geometric shapes (triangles. over and above verbal content. The more single-mindedly focused and well defined the better. They feel that BA used to be innovative and ahead of the field for business travel. should not be allowed to dictate function. symbols. and influenced by.' 3. There is growing rejection of the business stereotype – they want to be recognised as a whole person. since the more complex and multilayered the thought. who have taken the high ground in service (Singapore) or product (Virgin). the brand or the category. our emotions. Tracking should focus on how people behave. not lip service: 'Don't pigeonhole me – I want choice. British Airways example: Dramatise the feeling of mental recharging generated by flying Club World. So spell out the specific goals or objectives you are hoping to achieve. Critical Realism Framework: People are just as influenced by communications processed with low attention and minimal conscious recall as by rational factual messages consciously processed. flow charts and so on). An illuminating definition and insights about the target audience that needs to be influenced or persuaded. Business for them is stressful. sounds. Executional elements – visuals. These open up communication opportunities because you can touch people at the heart of the matter. a redesign of the agency's briefing form usually follows. whether flying BA or competitive business class. and hence a new. Communicate step change in product and service. Venn diagrams. not a suit.com 4 . giving you time to yourself. British Airways example: All business flyers. and the barriers that are preventing them from doing what it is that we want them to. what you say in terms of messaging is less important than how you say it. and overtaken by more dynamic competitors. I want to feel in control. Detail the attitude or behaviour change you are hoping to effect via your communication. flexibility. no longer leading-edge. Neuroscience has demonstrated that most of our decision-making is rooted in. Measuring success on the basis of message transmission is deficient. UK and overseas. The wording and design of agency brief formats can also be tailored to suit the vagaries of the creative department and how they like to work. Make people feel: 'I want to try that.
5. not the client. 6. IPA Guide to Best Practice by Leslie Butterfield (editor). Admap. It should not be written as a catchy headline.COM Practical progress from a theory of advertisements by Stephen King. and make sure you understand the thinking and theory behind it before you start blindly fi lling in those boxes. mandatory client details or stimuli. not fat ones like 'friendly' and 'confident'. given the prospect's proclivities. And keep it short. IJMR Volume 50. Admap. The key word here is 'relevant' – this is not a dumping ground for all the other stuff you could not squeeze in elsewhere. British Airways example: Club World helps you recharge – mentally and physically. Admap.1999 How to Plan Advertising. Creative teams respond well to the confi dence and authority of a clear direction to make their creative leaps into the dark. Measurement criteria and methods for evaluating communications performance. ie how to deliver the message. Relevant brand values and suggested tone of voice. legal requirements from regulatory authorities. the competitive environment and the client's budget. It is best to choose strong words. British Airways example: forward-thinking. 7. July-August 2001 How to write a great brief by Steve Henry. Provide some tangible or factbased reasons to support your strategic argument. October 1975 Three steps to briefing creatives by Nick Southgate. Admap. not the consumer. June 2009 How to write an inspiring creative brief by David Barker. Remember the audience – the creative team. APG Creative Planning awards. The recommended media to complement this strategy. or using fancy fonts. APG by Alan Cooper (editor) 1997 TOP TIPS FOR TOP BRIEFS Downloaded from warc. November 1997 Fifty years using the wrong model of advertising by Paul Feldwick and Robert Heath. 1993 Recall or response? Ad effectiveness monitoring: the real issues by Terry Prue. Any other relevant background data. 2008 British Airways Club World Relaunch by Nicky Buss.com 5 . Admap. it is vital that you get to know your agency format. caring. June 1991 OTHER READING Excellence in Advertising. FURTHER READING ON WARC. Context and share of voice are important markers. or in bad English. Often the most neglected part of the brief but an essential part of the relationship between the customer and the brand. In adopting the above. 4. contemporary.
Downloaded from warc. This electronic file is for the personal use of authorised users based at the subscribing company's office location. archived or shared electronically either within the purchaser’s organisation or externally without express written permission from Warc. © Copyright Warc 2010 Warc Ltd.com All rights reserved including database rights. United Kingdom. learn how to use it Define the problem clearly Inform and inspire Aim to surprise and challenge preconceptions Spin your numbers – make them come to life from a fresh perspective Be clear and single-minded Make sure it hangs together as a coherent whole Could you write an ad from it? Check you have the right measurement tools in place for maximum accountability Clearly define the role for each media channel l l l l l l l l l ABOUT THE AUTHOR Merry Baskin founded planning consultancy Baskin Shark in 2000. W1T 3EX Tel: +44 (0)20 7467 8100. e-mailed. She is co-editor of A Master Class in Brand Planning: The Timeless Works of Stephen King. posted on intranets. A former chair of the Account Planning Group and JWT planning director.warc. It may not be reproduced. London.com 6 . l Your briefing form is a useful tool. she teaches planning craft skills all over the globe. Fax: +(0)20 7467 8101 www. extranets or the internet. 85 Newman Street.
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