Giorgio Armani's closet

I got an email from a colleague last week with a link to examples of creative briefs from agencies all over the world. An amazing array of documents. Most asked precise questions that led to a proposition that creatives anywhere could understand. 

One in particular revealed its disdain for the entire process by asking only one question, a box positioned at the very bottom of the page with the rest of the sheet left blank. I thought only creatives could exude that much attitude.

Which leads me to a not-so-startling observation:

It's not the template, it's the stuff you write there.

That thought in turn led me to another idea: the creative brief template is just like Giorgio Armani's closet. You want to believe he designed this very personal space to be an elegant, warm, inviting sanctuary for his wardrobe. Even empty it would be cool to see.

But it's the clothes, stupid! You want to know what he hangs up there!

That's the difference between a creative brief template and the creative brief you write.

Anyone can fashion (no pun intended) a thoughtful template, even a clever and provocative template. That's the easy part.

The hard part comes when you try to fill in the blanks with inspiring, insightful, relevant information that creatives can use to produce compelling advertising.

I hear a lot of talk about this agency or that saying it wants to revise its creative brief, that it's not working hard enough. I also read about planners who believe no two creative briefs should look the same. Each project demands its own brief. Different creative disciplines, in fact, require different templates.

Fine. Knock yourselves out. I've always believed that the brief should be an organic document that can adapt and change.

Just remember this central truth:

Content rules.

As Giorgio might say, everything else is an accessory.