Become the Joe Montana of brief writers
Here's a revealing story from Jon Steel's Truth, Lies and Advertising: The Art of Account Planning.
One of the pleasures of living in San Francisco in the 1980s and early 1990s was the opportunity to see Joe Montana play for the San Francisco 49ers. One of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, Montana won four Superbowls and was legendary for this ability to bring his team back from deficits late in the fourth quarter of the game. Tom Junod, writing in GC magazine in September 1994, said of Montana, "For a long time, I thought of Joe Montana as a 'thinking man's quarterback,' a 'cerebral athlete' whose game – a greedy, hungry, gobbling thing, based on patience, restraint, even passivity – was an expression of some kind of Zen mastery." His impression, shared by many, I am sure, was that Montana must have a mind like a chess master, capable of computing all possibilities, calculating move, countermove and counter-countermove, all in a fraction of a second.
The GC journalist asked Montana if at those moments of crisis, with only seconds left on the clock and his team trailing, "he tried especially hard to complete his first pass, because then he knows that the defense starts thinking, Oh no, here comes Joe...And Joe answered that no, he tries to complete his first pass because it's always better to complete a pass than not to complete a pass. He feels the same way about the second pass, and the third."
"His simplicity," says 49ers president, Carmen Policy, of Montana, "is his genius...He is able to operate on a simplistic level and come to decisions that others would think of as very complex."
The point I think Jon is making is that writing a creative brief is an exercise in distilling the essence of a product just as much as creating the advertising is.
The tendency in a creative brief is to pile on, to over think the problem.
KISS applies to a brief as much as to anything else in life: Keep It Simple, Stupid!