Creative Thinking—Part 3: Find the Truth

Flow control, conversion funnelWe started with a deep dive. Asking questions. Digging deeper– more questions. Mining the client’s mind… as well as that of the target. Charting objectives. Collecting data—be it anecdote, opinion or myth. Becoming immersed, enculturated and engrossed in the business, the target and the challenge.

What we end up with is countless bits of data—many profound, others less so. Our next step is to distill all these impressions down to their core.

Bringing it all together.

It’s a process of sifting. Sorting. Arranging and re-arranging. Deciding which dots should be connected and which should not. Lining those ducklings up beak-to-tail. Refining everything down to a compact, portable strategic message: Short. Sweet. And boldly on-point for the brand, the target and the business goals.

And—when it’s ready—what we have is truth.

It’s a truth all the stakeholders in the project should readily embrace. (If not, there’s more work to be done.)

It’s called a Creative Brief. Here’s how I do it…

1. Fast Facts

  • Quick facts about deliverables, deadlines, budgets and key players

2. Background on the client and the brand

  • Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats
  • Their market space
  • Present business challenges

3. Project Overview

  • Why are we doing this?
    • Why does it matter to the business?
    • Why does it matter to leadership?
    • Why might it matter to our target?
  • Identify metrics: how will the client know if it’s been successful? (What is measurable)
  • Key messages
  • Assumed elements of the end product
  • Practical/logistical considerations
  • Who will approve? (Will legal review be required?)

4. Target Audience

  • Who are they?
  • What inspires them?
  • What frustrates them?
  • What are their current attitudes and beliefs about our topic?
  • What do we want them to believe?
  • Who are secondary targets?

5. Creative Input

  • What is the most relevant and differentiating idea that will surprise or challenge the target’s current thinking?
  • Where and when will this communication have the most power?
  • Is there any relevant past creative that we should be aware of (even if only to avoid duplication)?

The Creative Brief is a road map that gets everyone started on the same journey… which is critically important if you want to end up in the same place. It’s a key step in developing creative with a purpose.

I’ll talk about how we use our brief in my next post on Creative Thinking.


Rick Cornish creates communications that inform, influence and inspire… helping organizations increase sales, promote unity and persuade their people to embrace change. Working in video, corporate meetings, event marketing and more; Rick delivers purposeful creative that drives business results and builds stronger brands.

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