GLOBAL: Developing the communications strategy, defining its role in addressing the brand's problem, and transcribing it into a brief for the creative department, are key ways in which an agency adds value, two industry figures say.

This is according to a new WARC Best Practice paper, How to write a creative agency brief, by Merry Baskin, of Baskin Shark, and Kate Waters, of Now Advertising, who argue that the distillation of a comms strategy into a brief is an art that demands intellectual skill, creative flair and discipline.

The authors note that concision, clarity, logical consistency and creativity are fundamental to the process. The reason, they say, is that a creative leap at the briefing stage is more likely to generate a leap in the ensuing creative idea.

At its core, the process is the same regardless of disciplines and channels, they write. Sport England’s This Girl Can campaign is highlighted for its particularly robust brief. First, “a good brief must state the problem clearly”. But it must also distinguish between the role of the entire campaign and the role that communications play in achieving that.

“This is often an area where great planning can add real value by defining the problem in a more precise or insightful manner that articulates how communication needs to work to have its impact.”

It should also include the insight about the target audience, described sympathetically as “agency folk”, the authors add, who tend to be “very different from the audience groups that we are frequently asked to engage”.

Furthermore, the brief needs the final creative springboard or key thought to give creatives a clear direction: in This Girl Can: “It doesn’t matter how you do it; the brilliant thing is that you are doing it.”

Finally, “the brief is meant to be a framework to help you think and to express your ideas, but you shouldn’t be a slave to it”. Key to the entire process is “to write for your audience – the creative team, not the client, and not the consumer”. 

Data sourced from WARC