Creatives don't need a creative brief to do their jobs

I tip my hat to friend, colleague and fellow creative Paul Rector for his astute reply to my last posting.

Specifically, these words got my attention:

"...the number of projects I've worked on without a brief far, far outnumbered the projects I've worked on that had one. And you know what, the work got done."

No argument from me. Although in my twenty-plus years in the business, I never started a project without a brief, even if I had to write one myself.

The more accurate experience for me has been working on projects from mediocre to just plain awful creative briefs that required Sherlock Holmes-like deduction to figure out the objectives. I'd be willing to bet that Paul is nodding in agreement on that point.

The question I ask in response is, why would anyone even contemplate starting a project without the benefits of a creative brief?

Creative folks are, you know, creative and clever and would never allow the absence of such a document keep them from solving the problem with the same creativity and cleverness they'd bring to it if they had a creative brief from which to work.

Creatives are professionals. They thrive on a good challenge.

But when you don't give creatives the benefit of a tightly written creative brief, it's a lot like asking Tiger Woods to compete in a major golf championship and then removing the putter from his bag. Hey, he'll find a way to get the job done because he's Tiger Woods. He'd still beat the field.

But why handicap him? Think about how much more unbeatable he is with his bread and butter club.

It's not the perfect analogy, but it's darn close.

Why ask creatives to spin their wheels either because they have no creative brief, or by giving them a brief that isn't worthy of their talents?

Paul has correctly identified what ends up happening: wasted time because they're guessing about the target audience or they don't have a clue about the competition, or no one has bothered to identify or uncover a unique insight, which is the same as wasting the client's money. And that just automatically means off-the-mark ideas.

Eventually the creative team will figure things out. But is "eventually figuring things out" the strategy you want to be paying for?

The creative brief exists to take the guess work out of the first step in the creative process.

Creatives, don't settle for anything less than a well-written brief. I you have to, shame your account colleagues and write it yourself.