brand brief

    A long in the tooth brand brief.


    I wrote a brand brief 12 years ago for an organization that helps developmentally disabled adults.  The organization wanted a logo, so I wrote a brief.

    A couple of weeks ago I read about this same group in the newspaper and decided to reach out to see how they were doing.  I sent an email over the transom to the new head of development, along with the brief.  My hope with all brand briefs is that they will live on and on. They are crafted to do so. Each brand strategy (1 idea, 3 planks) is meant to hold the value proposition together and motivate action and loyalty over time.  Even through agency changes and campaign changes.

    The women responded this morning with a lovely long missive. It seems the brand idea is still relevant. Though the organization’s mission has changed thanks to the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008, most of the brief elements are still valid, especially the idea or brand strategy. 12 years ago housing was the key goal, today it is employment. The target was broader in the original brief, while today it is focused on donors.  I’m proud of my 12 year old brief. She has grown well and strong.

    This little exercise, checking in on briefs and brands of yesteryear, is worth pursuing. In this case it proves “Campaigns come and go…a powerful brand idea is indelible.” Peace.


    What Does A Brand Brief Cost?


    At What’s The Idea? a brand brief costs $17,500. List price. The people willing to spend that type of money know it’s s steal. Having an “organizing principle for product, experience and messaging” makes every act of marketing easier. Compare $17,500 to the cost of a newspaper ad, website take-over, or a radio flight. It’s peanuts. Sadly, the word brief, in advertising and marketing has been reduced to an instructive piece of paper telling creative people what not to do. Ish.  They are often poorly written, almost all interchangeable, and not given much heed. But brand briefs – they are different story.

    For a robust brand brief I need weeks. A month actually. A good brand brief requires interviews, fieldwork, research and brain steep. If we’re talking about a brand brief for a billion dollar company there may be lots of qualitative and quantitative testing as well. Up goes the price. And money well spent.

    Done well, a brand brief informs all areas of business. If CRM is marketing template, the brand brief is its architecture. If PR is a communication template, a brand brief is its measure of success. If customer journey is a template, the brand brief is the bread crumb trail.

    If you are in the business of selling things, raise your hand. If you don’t have a brand brief you are a simple fisherman.

    For examples of brand briefs, showing claim and proof (brand tangibles), please write me at Steve at whatstheidea.




    The Brand Brief.


    When a creative person looks at a blank screen or page, and tryies to come up with an idea for a piece of marketing, there’s often an uneasy feeling. Because creativity and selling are dissimilar activities.

    That’s why God invented the brief. Often called the creative brief: a project doc that outlines the business problem, target, and hopefully some stimulating insight that can act as a catalyst for the idea. If the creative brief is too proscriptive, the creative person finds it limiting. An idea buzz kill.

    That’s why brand briefs are better for creative people. A brand brief provides a macro view of the selling premise. It introduces the environment, the language of the consumer and his/her perceptions and attitudes toward the category. It’s broad enough so as to make a creative person feel less confined. And done well a brand brief provides a fecund field in which to plant and cultivate ideas.

    The brand brief is the operative strategy and stimulus doc a creative person needs before beginning work. Each content assignment should also include a short project description outlining the chore and goal.

    Stimulate your creative team, don’t scare them off.

    For a look at a some actual brand briefs, write