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During my education – in both high school and the first half of college – I have had lots of opportunities to be creative. But even in those moments, there have almost always been clear guidelines, instructions or requirements that have, in a way, stifled my creativity.
After my sophomore year I had more freedom to choose topics and projects in which I was actually interested, but it wasn’t until I watched the documentary “Briefly” by Bassett & Partners that I realized how much the years of restrictions had affected me.
While watching the documentary, I was almost shocked to hear the various creatives talk about how flexible the creative brief was. The idea that a “great project is a brief and response that resonate but don’t agree” was so new to me because in almost all of my previous experiences, the end result should have naturally and logically followed the initial assignment.
It was also surprising that the team actually prefers clients who don’t have one campaign in mind, but rather those that have a long-term marketing or branding goal. For example, Samsung’s brief to become the “credible number two to the smartphone leader” was intriguing because it wasn’t simply requesting an advertising campaign – it wanted a strategic plan to develop its name.
This relates perfectly to the statement made by one of the creatives in the documentary. “I don’t believe in briefs,” he said. “I believe in relationships.” In other words, creating a compelling campaign is not as simple as following instructions by the client. Rather, it requires a dialogue, an honest conversation about the brand’s ultimate goals, values and priorities.
Finally, the idea that you should “use the projects you’re given as a way to start to define how you think” greatly resonated with me. All too often I view assignments as short-term requirements I must complete to receive the grade I want or to add something to my resume. But when it comes down to it, I should view assignments as creative opportunities to explore what I care about; what I might want to pursue after graduation and what type of person, thinker and professional I might want to become.
Because, for better or for worse, May 2018 is only one short year away.