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How to break down a brief

A four-step exercise to simplify complex briefs

We need creative briefs, but they can be a bit overwhelming. To fend off the fear, we've got a four-step exercise for young creatives on how to tackle a creative brief, keep ideas fresh, and improve your creative process as you enter the creative industry and need to boss those briefs time and time again.

How to Break Down a Brief

Step 1: Five minutes

Take that brief in hand, and get a highlighter ready.

Read all the information it has to offer. Think about what the really essential points are, what specific words communicate and the key pieces of info that jump out. Highlight them.

There's probably a lot there, and probably A LOT of words flying around. So now you’re going to break down the creative brief into just 16 words. These 16 words should communicate what the brief is asking you to do. Imagine you're giving this to someone instead of the full creative brief. How can you get them to understand what the task is? Switch up the sentences you've highlighted, pull in your key words and phrases, or just write a new 16-word brief from scratch.

Step 2: Two minutes

Now you have your 16 words, really think again about what the crucial points are.

How many words could you shave and still communicate what the creative brief is asking? Could you get rid of eight words? Ok. Do it. The brief in eight words. Rearrange the ones you have, or use eight new words or mix it up.

Step 3: One minute

You've got it down to the bare bones now, right? Those eight words are all gold and all completely vital. But which could you do without? Could you do without another four?

Try and get it down to just four words. Remember, you're trying to communicate as much of the information from the full creative brief as possible. Say a lot, in a little. 

Step 4: One minute

What next? You guessed it. Halve it again. Two words. Go.

And there you have it. Your whole brief squished into just two words.

This exercise will help you understand the creative brief. Now, it'd be silly to actually go by two words when there's a whole wealth of info sitting there in the full brief. But, all those other words will seem like a luxury now. As you start developing your ideas, remember to stay true to your two words. Keep referring back to them, are you getting those two things across? 

Fancy tackling real creative briefs set by real clients? Check out New Blood Awards and have your work seen by some of the industry’s top creatives. For more creative inspiration, why not download some of our favourite advertising and design briefs and tackle a piece of New Blood history.

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