Two more thoughts on becoming a better brief writer

When in doubt about your skills, think fundamentals. It's like any new skill you learn—you need to practice the basics before you can advance.

In basketball, it's doing lay ups. In ballet, it's barre work. In writing creative briefs, it's, well, writing creative briefs.

But you needn't actually write briefs over and over like a school boy or girl.

Tip #1: Do them in your head.

Instead of brands, use everyday items you likely take for granted. You can write a brief in three simple steps. It'll take you less then five minutes. Do this once a day, say during your commute to or from work, and you'll discover your brain will add creative-brief-writing muscle before you know it.

For example: the object on which you're sitting right now. A chair.

Step one: identify the features of your chair. As I type this, I'm sitting on a counter stool in my kitchen. My stainless steel and leather stool is comfortable. It's attractive. It was inexpensive. That's three features.

Next, identify what the benefit is for each feature.

Comfort: I gravitate toward this chair because it's comfortable, so I like it. A lot.

Attractive: I feel proud of my excellent taste in design.

Inexpensive: my aren't I the clever chap for finding something so wonderful and at such a bargain.

Three features, three benefits.

Oh, and guess what. We've already found the hardest thing to write on a creative brief: the single-minded proposition. It's always one of the benefits. Always. The question is, which one?

For your practice exercise, it doesn't matter. Write (in your head) an SMP for each benefit. It's good practice. (If you read my post last month, you know I sometimes provide my creative teams with multiple SMPs. When you do as much creative testing as I do, you often need different creative approaches.)

For comfort, try this:

You'd give this chair a standing ovation except you're too comfortable to get up.

For design, try this:

You keep a photograph of this chair in your wallet and show it off any chance you can.

For inexpensive, try this:

If they gave out Nobel Prizes for finding a great chair for a ridiculous price, you'd get one.

Notice that each SMP could be a headline. They don't have to be good headlines, however. You're the pioneer headline writer on the assignment. Your job is to write the first one to inspire something better from your creative team.

Now, you try it. Pick everyday objects—a pencil, your bedroom slippers,  your cereal bowl, a coffee mug, your reading lamp. Keep them simple and unremarkable. It takes the pressure off.

Remember: three features, three benefits, three SMPs.

When that gets easy, do your pet. Your best friend. Your mother. Your mother in law...well, that's for real die hards.

The point is, practice.

Tip #2: Never write a creative brief all by yourself.

Never. Never. Never.

Always collaborate: With another brief writer. With someone on the creative team who'll be working from your brief. With your boss. It doesn't matter.

Two heads are always better than one.

Remember: creatives always work in teams. They produce better work that way.

Why would it be any different in writing a creative brief?