Making the most of your movie magic

It’s fun making movies. Developing ideas; being on set; editing it all together – it’s an exciting process and one that I recommend everyone experiences at some point.

Having worked on a number of award-winning independent shorts, I can honestly say taking a movie from concept to completion offers a huge sense of accomplishment to everyone involved in making it happen. For independent shorts, this sense of having made something valuable is enough to make it feel worthwhile and keeps you interested when the next one comes around.

In business, however, where budgets are assigned with commercial intent, it’s essential that the creative brief is as prescriptive as possible, so that you get the collateral or content your business really needs.

Writing a good creative brief, however, is not as straightforward as simply putting the ‘why, what and who’ of the individual project – it needs to tie in to the brand messaging, reflecting the overall strategy in the tactical projects therein.

When you brief your agency right though, you’ll most likely get the best response with a strong creative idea behind it, right on brief!

So, what does a good creative brief look like?

Brevity, Clarity and Fertility

I was at a Financial Services Forum event at the end of 2015 on the subject of ‘Better Creative Briefing’ – as you can imagine, financial services in themselves are seen as naturally less creatively-charged than, say, the next mobile device you might use.

However, this doesn’t mean there is no scope for creativity in the communications of said services – see my post on South African FS marketing and storytelling in the finance sector for more on that.

So, when approaching your agency with a new project, it’s important to formulate your brief around ‘brevity, clarity and fertility’ to get the best creative response that fits in with the brief’s objectives.

Brevity – It’s tempting to write, at length, on the product/service you’re promoting and get carried away with the detail. A good quote I heard this morning was ‘leave out what people skip’, and I think this applies to writing briefs emphatically. Keeping a clear focus on what this product/service means to your customers and how it ties in with your company brand/beliefs will enable a better creative response, without getting caught up in every technical detail.

Clarity – Having the right information on the product may not be enough to provide a stellar creative response, if there is no direction on how you see it being communicated. There is often hesitation with giving creative direction, as some clients will think they are influencing the creative response. This couldn’t be further from the truth, as giving a good steer on how you see the film looking/feeling will only help guide the creative to a more exciting and original concept, whilst still keeping in line with your brief.

Fertility – Getting a creative enthused about a project will, 9 out of 10 times, get the best out of them. If you can inject a sense of purpose to the brief, the creative response will have the energy and feeling that makes great campaigns. Are you looking to change the world? Are you helping a specific type of person? If so, how? And how does this translate through your offering and how does that set you apart from your competitors? These big ideas are what will inspire a creative to respond, in kind, with concepts that strike at the heart of what you’re trying to communicate to your audience, above and beyond the fact that ‘X fund is looking to grow by Y%, giving you Z return over…’

So where do I start, when writing my creative brief?

There are a number of creative brief templates out there, some of which are very lengthy, others which are essentially blank pieces of paper.

What’s important is getting the right people (decision makers, strategy, brand, etc) involved early on, so that the project and the purpose is truly signed off – there’s nothing more deflating, for both client and agency, when a creative proposal is binned because X board member wasn’t aware it was even being done.

You should also try to write the brief in a way that reflects your brand – if your brand believes in concise, clear, personal language, write your brief in this way so that the person reading it (agency) instantly gets a feel for style and tone of voice. Detail on what the brand means should be in the brief too, so that there is a reflection of it woven into the creative response.

Marketing maths should be included too – giving context to where you are now, what opportunities there are to capitalise on, how your brand looks to embed these into its DNA – this is all helpful for building a creative idea around and needs consideration.

Finally, try to profile your target audience – 45, successful and entrepreneurial isn’t much to go on. Creating personas for your typical user is really helpful when developing ideas and concepts. Consider this, as an expansion on the above description:

“Bob is a 45 years old, successful entrepreneur who, over the last 15 years, has built his business into the success it is today – a tech company with 50 staff, operating globally from 10 countries and 25 offices.

He likes the finer things in life – he drives a nice car, has a decent-sized home where his wife and two children live, and takes pleasure in providing a secure future for them all.

Bob is at the stage now where he wants to work less and enjoy his spare time more, needs succession planning at work and retirement planning at home. He is looking to retire by 50 with enough capital to maintain a travelling lifestyle with his wife, as his kids go off to University.

We’d like to help Bob manage his finances to provide the most stable and secure future, with X and Y products/services that will help him achieve those life ambitions”

It’s a bit longer to write than ’45, successful and entrepreneurial’, but it paints a picture for the creative and helps them think from the customer’s perspective.

This, in turn, will give you a better response and a creative that really reflects the brief’s intention.

Ultimately, that little extra time spent up front will give you a better result in the end.

Make it simple for yourself

As a closing statement, one way to think when you’re putting a creative brief together is to consider three questions:

Where are we now?
Where would we like to be?
How would we like to get there?

Start with these thoughts in mind, taking on board the ideas of ‘brevity, clarity and fertility’, and you should start to see the results in your next creative project!

About the author

Christiaan Harden

Christiaan Harden

Client Services Director

Christiaan is our client services director, who has been in the industry for over 10 years, starting out as a filmmaker. He’s been at Spectrecom since day one so his company and business knowledge is unmatched.

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