How to Increase Your Social Presence with Nike's Creative Brief

How to Increase Your Social Presence with Nike's Creative Brief

Why is finding content that will boost your social presence like trying to find the ancient severed head of the sculpture Winged Victory of Samothrace?

It’s still lost somewhere in Greece after 152 years.

The reason may be a lack of deep knowledge that leads to perfect messaging. If you’re struggling to reach a viral social storm, you can learn from the successful work of professional agencies.

Not from their enviable end products…

…but from how they made them.

Media craftsmanship begins with the creative brief. A brief is the summation of research, learning, conversations and interviews that an account manager conducts to learn about her client company. That data helps the account manager, client and creative team generate the single idea that is most likely to help move the marketplace.

That idea is what is contained in the brief.

The Creative Brief

Nike Creative Brief and Social Media | Blueprint

The brief explains this single idea with simplicity and vitality, usually on a single page. It’s handed to the creative team who craft the content. (The creative team will have often influenced the brief itself.)

The brief is livelier than: “Sell more chicken burgers.”

Higher sales is not the goal that can enrich the creative department’s juice – that’s why the account manager actually has a creative job to do (and many account managers are creative people in disgust – I mean disguise.)

Selling more is an amorphous goal that doesn’t cut to the gizzard of what problem the company wants to fix such as: Why are people are not buying enough chicken burgers?

That’s already more interesting.

But such a question is just the beginning. The account manager’s job is to research, hold meetings with people who know the product and its history and learn enough about the vertical – its ebbs and flows – to render a studied hunch on the best message. This process can take between a few days and weeks.

It’s called getting the background.


Apple for example has used a backgrounder that asks no less than 36 questions about marketing, audience and tactics, all of which are used to create a one page brief for a single advertisement.

All of the background information is entwined by the account manager to create the armature. In sculpture, the armature is an internal skeleton often made from aluminum wire that will support the outer form of artwork.

Original Nike Statue | Blueprint

Much deliberation came prior to crafting the Winged Victory of Samothrace (at the Louvre, don’t miss it.) This masterpiece depicting the mythological Nike would have been impossible to conjure if Pythokritos of Rhodes shot chisel straight to rock, proclaiming: “Let’s make ourselves a flying woman!”

Too often that’s how companies make content…but that’s not the armature of the real Nike.

See a Real Nike Brief

Here’s “the main idea conveyed” from a brief used by Nike, written by Dalya Taman. (Remember, it’s designed to inspire their creative team…)

“Nike Attire & Equipment will leave you feeling like a famous athlete. The way it fits and the way it looks will make people turn heads and wonder “who is that?!” Nike will make you feel like you can do the impossible and it will be easy doing it.”

What else was in that Nike brief?

  • Project Description
  • Objection
  • Copy Strategy
  • Who are we talking to?
  • What are they like?
  • What’s the main idea we’re trying to convey?
  • What supports this idea?
  • Competition (hint: everyone)
  • Emotional / Psychological Barriers
  • Brand History
  • Brand Personality
  • Tone of the advertising
  • Execution mandatories
  • Production Schedule
  • What business are we in? (Answer: “Developing athlete potential”)
  • Brand value (Answer: “The impossible is possible”)

Now you know what goes into your favorite Nike ads.

To boost your social presence you must first produce armature – the brief – crafted by competent background material. That will steer creative minds to produce the most beneficial media to solve your advertising problem.

By: Joshua Bains
  • Elizabeth Weaver

    Yes! This is awesome, Joshua. Since your explanation of the creative brief and it’s importance, I’ve been very interested in seeing examples from some of the brands we know and love. Thank you for sharing this. With so many endless routes for creatives to take, it only goes to show how necessary the brief is. Great stuff!

    • Joshua Bains

      Thanks, Elizabeth. Those endless routes are one of the great benefits of the brief – condensing the right amount of info in a creative way for creative people to run with.

  • I’ve used creative briefs with clients before. They helped the team capture their ideas and generate consensus on the best way to craft the content. Creative briefs also helped ensure the content hit the mark in terms of tone and brand identity. The important thing was always to remain flexible. The creative brief was a guide but it didn’t set the process in stone.

  • Adam Baxter

    This is so important to anybody who has to do anything remotely creative. Making something ‘look cool’ does not do the job. It has to tell a story. It has to convey the right message. And ultimately, it has to be sincere. A creative brief gives you direction to craft meaningful content. Great job, Josh.

    • Joshua Bains

      Cool is what sells. Right you are, Adam.

  • Patrick Price

    The more information presented in a brief, the better the outcome of your idea. I think as I continue to write content, I look for as much info to create the best blog or web page possible. It really means taking your idea or product to the next level. Boring briefs give boring results, so turn it up a notch. Interesting read Josh, thanks!

    • Joshua Bains

      Creating a more riveting brief will help your writers create better content (faster).

  • Aaron Ward

    A creative brief outlines the deliverables so that the content doesn’t miss the mark. I think the music studio Big Machine Records, the company that discovered Taylor Swift, has the best reasoning behind the briefs that they create. “Think about the most outlandish thing that we can do and simplify.” You’ll be amazed what can result from this method. You can always outsmart a project scope and design smarter. A brief provides a blueprint for the designer that says here are the deliverables ,now create a designs that incorporates the functionality and target audience that we are reaching for.

  • Aaron Ward

    The most important item in this brief is determining your USP, unique selling point. What makes your product or service stand out from its competitors. There is always a competitor whether you know it or not. In the words of Mark Cuban, find your weaknesses before your competitors do and fix them. Pretty simple right. A creative brief will point out what is lacking in your company and how to realistically improve on this flaw.

  • John

    Struck most by the creativity within this blogpost. It is a creative brief about creative briefs, and at the end I was excited to learn more about creative briefs with the goal of making them myself for future projects. I had wikipedia open while reading it and everything…

    • Joshua Bains

      Don’t fret, I use it too.

  • Naima

    Briefs are very important when it comes to understandings brands. They are also the solid
    foundation for creating robust marketing campaigns. I can’t wait to create one for our clients and see how far it can take us. Great article Joshua!

  • Erin Li

    I have taken the account planning course in school where my team and I conducted several ethnograohic researches and summarized the results in to creative briefs for certain brands. I believed even since that this process of gaining consumer insights is the foundation of any campaigns for only those who understand the target audience know how to talk to them. In some agencies this responsibility is assigned to account planners, in the other agencies it still belongs to the account managers. But no matter who’s doing the work, they are truly creative people in disguise, indeed.

  • Samantha Torres

    Great points to consider and certainly answering the questions you’ve listed is important for any agency to understand their client and work. I would only warn against “falling down the rabbit hole” during the research phase. Certainly more knowledge is better, but overall goals have to be kept in mind too. Some industries take months, even years, to fully learn, but results are expected in weeks. While the creative brief is absolutely important (and I love the idea of using this for every piece of creative work), spending too much time just in the research phase can ultimately hinder results. Always has to come back to the bottom line!

  • Victoria Vener

    There is something immensely satisfying and exciting about a well crafted brief. As a writer, I find that a good brief takes what is usually a chaotic mess of creative impulses and ideas, and refines it almost immediately.

  • Jeff Cline

    Wow Joshua, you lay out a great insight with that example – and it’s a step that many companies overlook. More than just “sell more stuff” you make it clear that the idea, image and inspiration behind “why you want to buy more of OUR stuff” can fuel the creative juices and inspire the content that emotionally drives a brand. Thousands of people stand in line for days awaiting the sale of the newest i-phone. Not because it’s technically the best, but because Apple has enticed the emotion of wanting it because it not only fills a need or simplifies your life, but because of it’s style and how it almost sets you into a special elite group of phone users.

  • This article makes me want to get onto social and “just do it.” Thanks for the Magna Carta of Creative Brief info, Josh. I am challenged.