The Seven Stages of Brief – By @JesseOHare

By Jesse Sharp-O’Hare


The Seven Stages of Brief


It’s term two now. So far we’ve finished PBs 1, 2, 3 and 4, and have two more to go before D&AD. Add to that numerous poster, TBWA, and Metro briefs. And through all these many briefs a pattern seems to be emerging. No matter what kind of brand or product, no matter whether the cycle lasts one week or three, all the trials and tribulations of a brief seem to be able to be broken down into seven steps. 

1) Chill 

The brief comes, you’ve got three weeks to do it and the whole world seems to stretch out in front of you. The day ends at six, everything is rosy and spent largely on ‘research’, although whether you actually gain any vital insights at this initial stage is up for debate. Generally chatting about the brief though can be extremely useful later on, as the nuggets of information begin to percolate.

2) Denial

‘A week’s gone… have we got the insight yet? We should probably hurry…’ your partner asks. ‘No! It’s fine, look we’ve still got three days for insight, then another two for proposition, one for copy, two for art and still loads for craft!’ you say, as the mental gymnastics in your head reach Simone Biles levels. Even as the days slip away, you just compact whatever you need to do into fewer and fewer days. It’ll all be fiiiiiiiiiiiiiine…

3) Anger

At this point, you’re probably furious at yourselves. You’ve found a pretty smart insight (or so you think), but haven’t been able to convert it into a workable and snappy proposition. Why? Why not? Why are the words slowly oozing out of your pen and dribbling down the page into a puddle of useless drivel at the bottom?

4) Bargaining

This stage is bargaining, or more specifically, bargaining with Pete. You try and get to seem him earlier and earlier in the day, maybe wrangling the first meeting via slack. Anything to get those valuable hours.

5) Guilt

God damnit why did I spend the first four days twiddling my thumbs or working on the brief that was due last week. Time management seemingly is the route of all guilt brief-wise, as the days turn to hours and deadline day approaches.

6) Panic 

Right we have to make a decision right now otherwise nothing will get made. Over the five months we’ve been here, sometimes it’s the right decision, sometimes it’s the wrong one to just go for it at the death. But that panic is needed. Panic is the deadline maker. Controlling that panic so that’s channelled into something useful is a bit of a 50/50, but without it nothing would get done.

7) Acceptance and Hope

With minutes or hours to spare, you’re done. The poster’s in the google drive, the case study’s on youtube and your partner looks a little bit wild-eyed. A weird sense of inner peace overcomes you. Fingers are crossed that SurveyMonkey isn’t too harsh. 

And fingers crossed we start to miss out some of these stages during D&AD.

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