How to Inspire the Creative Mind


How do you get into the creative frame of mind? Are you inspired by facts? Visuals? Music? Stories? Surroundings? Snacks? Mmm snacks. 

If you’re in advertising, you indulge in the creative brief your wonderful account planning team poured their research-intensive hearts into. The core purpose of any brief is to inspire the team to make a leap of creative faith. And strategic planning is the springboard.

If every brand is different (and it is), why are so many briefs created the same? Let’s face it. Not everyone is inspired by reading paragraphs sprinkled with facts masked as insights.

Certainly what goes into a brief is important. It’s also equally important to consider what the creative team can take away from it. When in doubt, be brief. But be insightful.

With all that said, below are two sample creative briefs for real-world brands. One of them is for a church. Yes, a church. Everyone has a brand. (Even you!) Christianity in America is certainly in need of a brand refresh. More on that later.


#1. Northland | A Church Distributed

What do you know about the church and its history?
Northland Church is a Florida-based congregation with roots that go back to the 1960s. Today’s Senior Pastor, Dr. Joel C. Hunter, has been at Northland since 1985. Before it was a mega church, it was a close-knit community gathering in an old skating rink.

Today, Northland attracts more than 20,000 who worship around the world thanks to the connective power of the web. It’s a distributed church model, meaning Northland has more than one location, it’s a church of churches. Northland believes church is more than a building—it’s a network of spiritual families.

Whom are we talking to?
Northland serves a diverse audience. This initiative will focus on reaching millennials (adults who were born between 1981 and 1996) who have some prior experience with church, but do not regularly attend.

Millennials make up about 20 percent of the entire U.S. population. Not only are they the largest generation in the history of America, they are a progressive generation. To describe them as liberal would be a massive understatement. They grew up on the Internet. They want connection. And they want authenticity.

What do they currently think?
Millennials think a lot of things. (And the world thinks a lot of things about millennials.) This tech-savvy, social-media-obsessed generation is skeptical of organized institutions, like the government. They view the church as an institution that clings to traditions rather than strives to stay relevant.

According to Pew Research, half of millennials say they believe in God, and only about four-in-ten say religion is very important in their lives. Millennials have witnessed church scandal after church scandal after church scandal after church scandal. They are repelled by hypocritical Christians. And holier than thou preachers.

What’s the problem? Is there an overarching negative to address?
Just 27% of millennials attend religious services on a weekly basis. Even if they believe in God and consider themselves spiritual, going to church feels like something their parents and grandparents do. Millennials think they can respond to the needs of others without going to a building once a week. Therefore, churches across the nation are not attracting this key generation.

What’s the brand?
World changers, not holy rollers.


#2. Harbor Inn Seafood

What do you know about Harbor Inn Seafood?
Harbor Inn Seafood opened its doors more than 20 years ago. It is a family-owned chain of restaurants that span North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. Each of the six restaurants provides affordable, high-quality seafood, including a variety of broiled and fried seafood options. They are also known for delectable desserts.

Harbor Inn delivers a consistent level of quality, unlike national restaurant chains which suffer from disparate service standards that vary by location and management.

Whom are we talking to?
For this initiative, our target audience will be mothers. We know that moms plan the meals and coordinate family schedules. Moms know that their families are busier than ever, but the dinner table is still a place where everyone can gather, and sometimes, unplug.

We are talking to moms who also have to deal with picky eaters, but moms also care about the food that their children eat. Opting for broiled seafood over pizza once a week seems like a responsible option. And dining out is a great way to get kids to eat stuff they wouldn’t normally try at home.

What do they currently think?
Dining out means less time in the kitchen. And more time with loved ones. It’s a chance to do something as a family. Harbor Inn also has a children’s menu. Moms know that seafood is brainfood. They think Harbor Inn’s menu is reasonably priced, and they appreciate the atmosphere.

What’s the problem? What’s the negative?
In a word, competition. The marketing challenge is to distinguish Harbor Inn as unique, not just another fish in the sea of restaurant sameness.

What’s the brand?
Family. Friendly.

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