The Problem with Creativity:|The Creative Brief

Showcased first at this year’s IPA EffWords Global 2021 comes a new study from BetterBriefs that highlights the scale of the problem born from the current creative briefing process. It’s the first global and largest study ever conducted on the marketing brief, with the aim to reduce the amount of money, time and talent wasted on poor briefs.

In short, it’s fascinating. It shows just how misaligned and confused the client-agency relationship is. For example: 


So, how are we all getting it so wrong? Why isn’t the creative brief system delivering what it should – the best creativity? BetterBriefs claims the solution lies in: clients providing clear strategic direction from the outset, structural briefing processes and rigorous approvals.


It’s an interesting juxtaposition, don’t you think? An industry that thrives on creativity and operates at momentous speed and agility, being weighed down at the very beginning by process, structure and hierarchy….

Let’s face it, no one really enjoys writing briefs, and by the judge of things, agencies don’t particularly like receiving them… how do we expect anyone to be their best creative self if the passion and enthusiasm of the team is overshadowed by a brief nobody is particularly excited about?


And doesn’t it further perpetuate the transactional client:agency relationship everyone is trying to dispel? ‘See us as an extension of your team’ is definitely up there in the most used agency phrases of the last five years. And rightly so… You wouldn’t write a brief everytime you wanted your team’s input. It doesn’t take you six weeks’ of approvals to hash out an idea that’s been brewing in your mind. So, is the premise of ‘brief’ actually the problem? It implies the agency is always held at arms’ length in a transactional cycle of brief – rebrief – execute – debrief and ‘an extension of your team’ becomes more marketing fluff that doesn’t mean anything. 

At Quantum, we practice what we preach. Our clients don’t need a brief, they need an idea… a problem… an opportunity. They trust us to put our thinking hats on and come back with a plan – or create one together. It’s not always right the first time, but it is always useful, productive and inspiring and takes us places a creative brief never would. Isn’t that why we all joined the industry in the first place? 


If the solution to better briefing was better briefs, there would be no creatives left.