The 5 Deadly Sins of Brief Writing

June 21, 2016

By Lauren Stradley, ANA Faculty

The brief is the cornerstone of any customer-centric B2B or B2C marketing effort. It’s where objectives, messaging, target audience, customer insights, metrics, and channel approach come together in one key document that will keep everyone on track. 

But let’s be honest – writing a brief isn’t always easy! And writing a brief brief – couldn’t resist – is even harder.

It takes some time and strategic thinking to know what should and shouldn’t be included. Since the brief needs to be something your team will actually read, it should be clear, insightful, and succinct. After reading it, every person should be on the same page about what the marketing effort needs to achieve.

In my experience, there are several pitfalls that trip marketers up when they write briefs. They are known as the five deadly sins of brief writing. On your path to a powerful and motivating brief, here are the sins that you should steer clear of:

  • Gluttony: Do you put too much in the brief? Do you tend to “kitchen-sink”? Laser-sharp focus is crucial the success of your brief.
  • Sloth: Do you craft the brief as quickly as possible just to get through it and meet a deadline? It’s key to spend time thinking strategically about what a brief should say before you begin writing.
  • Pride: Do you craft the brief on your own without consulting or collaborating with key partners? Consulting with others should be a part of the strategic thinking stage.
  • Greed: Do you receive feedback from key partners, but don’t act on it to improve the brief? Value other perspectives to ensure your brief is as effective as possible.
  • Envy: Do you wish you could work on a more exciting project? It’s time to stop focusing on what you’d rather be doing and focus on what you need to do.

How many of these sins have you committed? It’s time to recognize them, resolve to correct them, and write briefs that will set your team up for success. Because the stronger the brief, the stronger the marketing effort. And with that comes a stronger emotional connection with your customers.


Lauren Stradley is senior strategy consultant at Noetic Consultants. Lauren is a Eugene Kummel Scholar who received her M.B.A. from Yale University. She will share key insights and learnings from her more than 15 years’ experience in brand management and marketing at the upcoming Strategic Customer-Centered Marketing workshop.

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