Thoughts on writing the creative brief: communication objectives

"What are the communication objectives?"

I've seen this question asked in a variety of ways, including "What do we need to do?", "What are we trying to achieve?", "What if..." followed by a sentence outlining desired outcomes of the creative, and "Why are we advertising?"

It's a simple question. But I've seen it confused with other descriptors such as "marketing objectives" and "business objectives." 

They're not the same thing.

The creative brief is written for the creative team, so anything that doesn't discuss what the advertising must say and how it's said will be viewed as a tangent, which is my nice way of saying it will be ignored.

Which isn't to say that marketing or business objectives are unimportant. They are important. Just not to creatives.

Let me put it another way. Marketing and business objectives relate to sales, growing market share, profits, things of that sort. Increasing sales is one thing creatives know their ads have to accomplish, so you won't be telling them anything useful.

Communication objectives are about describing what the advertising has to say, and say well. The best creative briefs I've read over the years address communication objectives by choosing smart, relevant, thought-provoking verbs.

Here are a few examples:

Inspire the consumer to call for a free sample of Brand X
Romance the consumer with Brand R's allure
Re-engage the consumer who's been away from Service T
Excite the consumer about the versatility of Brand K
Convince the consumer that Brand Q will make him feel powerful
Educate the consumer about Brand P's superior performance
Remind the consumer that Brand F won taste tests in 100 cities

You can probably think of dozens of other verbs to do the trick, but the list isn't that long. You need only a few really good verbs, ones you'll use over and over. If you can think of a new verb, such as instill or compel and you can make it work, use it!

The point is, when you use verbs to describe what the advertising must accomplish in the minds and hearts (mostly the hearts) of readers or viewers or listeners, you're giving your creative team clear direction. Pick out three really important things you want the ad to say, no more, and find the right verbs to describe the desired effect.

In a future post, I'll address the single-minded proposition, and how you can turn them into works of art that will make your creative team swoon with envy. 

In the meantime remember:

Verbs: the creative-brief writer's best friend.