There was a brilliant piece by 101’s Laurence Green on the Creative review blog this week. It’s all about the conditions most helpful in delivering a great idea out into the world. He explodes a few myths, including the importance of a great brief. As he notes “the truth is that much great work springs from briefs that are merely good (and, whisper it quietly, some from no brief at all). And, indeed, that briefs that themselves aspire to greatness – perhaps inevitably – often inspire work that falls far short of that mark.” He continues “a brief – however expertly reduced – will still comprise more hopes, dreams, intent and information than most creative ideas can possibly serve, and so the most useful thing for a creative team is less the whole thing being perfect than that at least one corner of it is interesting (a surprising objective, say, or an original audience insight).”
I think this is so true. Speaking as one who spends their days polishing ‘creative strategy’ (a phrase some might regard as an oxymoron) I know its very easy to kid oneself into thinking the springboard is more crucial than the athlete who’s vaulting from it.
My own perspective is that the best creative briefs are a little like the principle of wit – because wit provides no punch-line, but effectively telegraphs half the gag, leaving you to fill in the blanks. It credits the audience with the intelligence to figure things out for themselves, like the example opposite. And of course just like a great brief, brevity is the soul of wit.