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Mar 25, 2024 1:30:00 PM | 6 Minutes read

Bad briefs – The Primary Culprit Behind Overwork in Creative Teams

A wise man, Abraham Lincoln, once declared, “If I had six hours to chop down a tree, I’d spend the first four sharpening the axe.” The hours vary, but whether it is eight or six hours, the meaning is the same. One should spend more time in preparation. Embarking on a production project without a detailed creative brief will likely end in disaster. Investing time into a creative brief is time well spent.

The 2019 In-House Creative Management Report from InSource and inMotionNow, showed that 58% of clients believed they provided clear and complete creative briefs.  But only 27% of agencies concur with their clients. This misalignment occurring at the start of projects creates confusion that could easily be avoided and makes things smoother for the creative agency. 


Creativity is subjective and so are creative briefs

Creativity has never been so important. And with different agencies and production partners producing volumes of marketing assets, better direction is required for perfect execution. There is a strong connection between a well-written brief and the quality of work that is delivered in response to it. To the end user, great briefs are a source of inspiration and motivation. 

A good creative brief should be a guide for the outsourced team to let them know the project objectives. This will allow the team to better manage what everyone is working on and determine whether other external factors are aligned with client expectations.


Brief encounter

Creatives, be it artworkers, writers, video editors, or web developers, frequently have to jump between multiple projects and clients. Giving them context for the work they’re about to do – even if it feels obvious and unnecessary – goes a long way towards helping your external partner embark on the task quickly.


Don’t skimp on those briefs!

When it comes to writing that brief, put the time in. 26% of in-house agency leaders cited in EKCS Solving the Overwork Dilemma in Creative Teams Survey, March 2024 said that unclear or changing client briefs as the primary factor contributing to overwork in their teams.

The most common reason for a project failing in the business of production is the lack of a clear creative brief. The process of developing, discussing and agreeing a clear brief with your colleagues and your agency will focus your thinking on what it is you are expecting from your marketing activity and what you expect your agency to come back with.

The problem doubles up when it comes to outsourcing, as language barriers, brand quirks and cultural differences can lead to communication and understanding issues. Language and cultural differences can be obstacles in outsourcing projects. A common goal calls for a common language and terminology when working with a geographically-distributed team. A set of comprehensible terms should be part of a creative brief. This clarifies any ambiguity and enhances better understanding between both the in-house agency and the external partner.


Wear someone else’s shoes

Is the person, or team, you are outsourcing the project equipped with all the correct and up-to-date brand guidelines, asset copy, data, and so on? This will change depending on the type of campaign you are planning but ensure that attached alongside the brief are all the required materials and assets if this hasn’t already been done. By doing this, time will be saved by avoiding the back-and-forth emails chasing up. A shared workflow system can work well. Every stakeholder should be on the same page to reach the desired result.

Defining creativity is another important factor that affects the overall creative production process. Your brief should highlight your creative expectations. When it comes to brand guidelines, what creative discretion, if any, is allowed?


Keep it concise

At the end of the day, the creative brief should be available to the team at any time and place and should serve as the foundation of the project. An effective creative brief doesn’t need to be any longer than two pages. As long as you have presented the main essential points, your key objectives, and your brief will be effective. Moreover, your peers are likely to appreciate not being presented with information overload. 


Invest time in quality briefs

There are a few characteristics that are consistently found in well written creative briefs, and these will help you get your project started without a hitch!

  • Clarity – A project without clarity is bound to breakdown at some point in the process.  When collaborating with others, it is important to ensure everyone is on the same page and working together to achieve a common goal.
  • Communicative – Communication is vital in outsourcing, and the creative brief needs to communicate information needed to produce the work. If the brief does not successfully communicate its message, then chances are the client is not going to receive what they wanted.
  • Context – Creative briefs should also address key considerations including the product or brand asset, the market, the media and of course the customer

In conclusion

A clear and concise creative brief can be fundamental to the success of a campaign. Without these, your agency can experience a lack of insight into the message being portrayed, the audience being spoken to, or the things that have or haven’t delivered in the past. A poor brief can waste time and money, and when working in an in-house agency or publishing house, this is something you need to avoid wherever possible.

Finally, strong creative briefs also foster better relationships among team members which will enable collaboration to prosper. So, spend time sharpening your creative brief, it will save both time and money in the long run.


To find out more about outsourcing and explore how it can help your team to solve production challenges

Download our FREE GUIDES. They look at the benefits of creative production outsourcing, what to consider in a production partner, and tips on how to get started with outsourcing.

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