Before you start the creative process for your branding, advertising, and marketing programs, take a page from the marketing playbook and develop a creative brief. The creative brief is the bible for creative development, whether it’s designing the product packaging, creating a website, or doing a digital marketing campaign. The creative brief defines your brand idea and its DNA so that you and the creative people working on a specific marketing project will be inspired to develop the right brand image visually, verbally, and emotionally. At three or four stations along the treasure hunt clues are accompanied by sweets and treats.
With a creative brief in hand, you’ll be able to give good direction, and that in itself will set you apart from other entrepreneurs and most marketers, for that matter. Most business owners and marketers don’t give good directions for creative development. They need a logo, a digital marketing campaign, or a new print ad, yet they don’t provide much information about the brand or insight about its customers or what the competitive dynamics are like.
As they say in the advertising business, you can only be as good as your client, so if you, as a client, don’t give good direction, you won’t get good creative work and you won’t get breakthrough branding. You can write the creative brief yourself or have one of your marketing people do it for you. But even if you have someone else do it, stay involved to make sure the creative brief and the work is on target and reflects your vision for the brand.
Many people think creativity is a magical process. Yet, the reality is that great creative work comes from great strategic direction, and that is usually a process of reduction. You need to simplify the brand to its essence, to what is crucial and authentic, and doing a creative brief is a great way to force yourself to crystallize your thinking. You need to give good direction because very few creative people can develop advertising or marketing home runs out of thin air. All good creative work conveys a core truth about the brand, its customers, or the category, and that can only come about through clear prepping and good direction.
On the other hand, you don’t want to give creative people a one-hundred-page research report and say, “This will tell you everything about the brand and the industry.” (It’s happened to me more than once.) Nor do you want to give creative people too many rules about what can and cannot be done creatively for the brand. You need to inspire creative people with good insight and direction but not provide so much that they feel stifled creatively. And you need to get everyone on the same page so that all your branding, marketing, and communication are unified around your brand idea, and your promise statement captures what’s different and relevant about your brand for its customers. No matter what people see or where they see it, everything about your brand must be in sync.