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A Better Creative Brief For The Post Digital Age

Goodby's Gareth Kay suggests different ways to think about modern communication strategies.

Paloma M. Vazquez
Paloma M. Vazquez on August 10, 2010. @pmvazquez

A recent post by Gareth Kay (of Goodby’s Brand Strategy discipline) turned our attention to a presentation he made at Boulder Digital Works on crafting a creative brief for the post-digital age. Kay begins by taking a (somehow comical) look at creative brief templates of yore (1992), which mostly all addressed a very common set of elements: a problem to be solved by advertising, consumers to ‘target’, a message to tell them, reasons to believe, and tone of voice.

Needless to say that there is a continually expanding set of technology devices and platforms – and respective user interfaces – available in our current culture: from mobile to social media, to desktop and mobile video and others. Their impact includes facilitating a more participatory culture, making us more social,  contributing to a more fragmented media landscape and leaving us ‘always on’ and conscious/communicative of our location; these factors need to be considered within an informed creative brief.

To than end, Kay suggests developing a better map of the world – and asking better questions – to arrive at said creative brief. Some of the key ideas and suggestions we selected from his presentation include:

  • Stop communicating products and start making communication products: consider how to deliver useful, entertaining or memorable – and not interruptive – experiences
  • Don’t just seek to fill the media space – create it
  • It’s not what we do, but ultimately what people do to the brand work we create that matters: design for gaps, and not just for finite products. Design for participation.
  • Generous ideas are better than big ideas: have a social mission, and not just a commercial proposition
  • Consider that ‘media is less often about crafting a single message to be consumed by individuals, and more often a way of creating an environment for convening and supporting groups’
  • Think small: the bigger a brand gets, the smaller it should act – ‘because no one likes big’

Key implications for an evolved creative brief include:

  • If the pre-digital brief was about interruption, image manipulation, saying things at people, intangible value and perception…
  • …then the post digital brief is about participation, value creation, doing things for people, creating tangible value, and demonstrating and facilitating behavior
  • Better questions to ask include:
  • What’s the real problem? And who is this among?
  • How might we best approach solving this?
  • Why might they talk about this idea? And how do they get involved?
  • What keeps the conversation going?

Kay concludes that challenging ourselves with developing more compelling, participatory and effective brand work is less about the brief and digital, and more about how we think about modern communication ideas. Modern communication ideas come from culture first (not commerce) – and aim to make a positive contribution to it by understanding and taking an interest in the people that form said culture. Because modern communication ideas need to be participatory, ‘always on’ and fluidly linked across a number of platforms, conversations and gaps – they might not take the form of ads as we currently know them. They may need to create a new space in media, and not just fill the existing landscape.

Gareth Kay

[via Brand New]

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