A Brief Story. By @Edwards92Sophie

By Sophie Edwards


A Brief Story.


In this SCAB there are 2 things that we’re going to chat about:


  1. Writing an interesting brief
  2. The 7 types of story


Why stories? Why briefs? Why anything? Well. Now it’s getting towards D&AD.

In the summer of 2016 I went to the D&AD Festival. I was an Account Executive.


What I learnt was useful then, even as a suit, and now it’s coming around to D&AD New  Blood 2017 it’s important once again to remember it all.


1.Writing an interesting brief


D&AD briefs are juicy. But how can you make them juicier? How can you find an angle from the brief which makes your work distinctive from others?


This was broached in a session at the 2016 Festival on ‘Briefing your creative team’ with Kit Altin, a Planning Director at Leo Burnett Group & Founder of Leo Burnett Change.


Here is a summary of Kit’s talk, with tips to make a brief more exciting. I’ll elaborate on the ones which are more complicated, but most explain themselves.


STEP 1 – Find the core. Write the brief in 16 words. Then 8. Then 4. Then 2. You now have the core. The essence that must run through your idea. It may be better in 4 words, or 8. But by shortening and shortening you become more and more aware about what is the most important part of the brief.


STEP 2 – Now write the core to make it exciting. Engaging. Memorable. And most importantly in a way to get the creative juices flowing. Here are some options to do this:


  1. Use the Pixar storyline

Now this blew my mind. And I hope it changes yours. Every Pixar story can be explained in this format:


Once upon a time ….


One day….

Because of that ….

Because of that ….

Until finally ….


Don’t believe me?


Once upon a time …. there was a clownfish called Marlin with a small son called Nemo.

Everyday…. Marlin and Nemo would stay in the reef so they were safe.

One day…. Marlin and Nemo had an argument.

Because of that …. Nemo swam out into deep water and was captured by divers.

Because of that …. Marlin went on a huge adventure, making lots of friends on the way, to find his son.

Until finally …. Marlin and Nemo were reunited.


If you can get your brief into this format, i.e rewrite it as a story,  it not only makes it shorter but also makes it more engaging and memorable.


  1. Can you write the brief in an email subject line?
  2. A question?
  3. A tweet?
  4. A rhyme?
  5. One word?
  6. From someone else’s perspective?

How would Kanye West write this brief? A soldier? A grandma? How would your target audience scribble it down? How would the brand? CEO? Another creative? The moment you start doing this, you view the brief in a different light.


  1. The 7 types of story.


This session was run by Al McCuish, co-founder and Chief Creative Officer of creative agency, Sunshine.


You’ll notice that adverts are often centred around stories. By telling stories you get people to engage with your work. They can relate to it and understand what your product can do for them.


Here are the 7 story types and examples of ads which show how each one can be used.


  1. Overcoming the Monster –
  2. Rebirth –
  3. Quest –
  4. Journey and Return –
  5. Rags to Riches –
  6. Tragedy –
  7. Comedy –

So there it is. The two things I learned from D&AD Festival in 2016 which I’m hoping will help with D&AD New Blood 2017.

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