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How we launched Proof briefs to improve the quality of creative feedback

3 min read
Mat Atkinson

The known value of creative briefs

In the creative sector, it is generally accepted that a high-quality creative brief dramatically improves the quality of any creative project. 

A high-quality brief aligns the creative team. It sets out concrete goals and provides a structure for the project to follow. The critical components of a high-quality creative brief include: the main objective for the project, the project context, the target audience, the messaging parameters, the deliverable inventory and description, as well as the technical requirements.  

Each of these components provides the project team with the information to deliver high-quality creative that meets the project’s objective. 

Without a high-quality creative brief, there is a risk that the team veers off-course and fails to meet the objective. With one, the team can remain highly focused on delivering exceptional creative work. 

The surprising absence of briefs during creative review

Despite the known value of briefs during the creative process, creative teams often pay little attention to using briefs during the creative review. Project teams spend hours, days, and even weeks producing creative work. Yet, when sharing that work for review, it is often just "thrown over the fence" for feedback and comments.

This is surprising, as getting feedback is an essential part of the creative process. The higher the quality of feedback, the higher the quality of the final creative output. Conversely, poor quality feedback can distract the creative team from the project's main objectives and cause problematic delays. Why then does so little effort go into ensuring high-quality feedback by properly briefing reviewers?

If this sounds like we are preaching, we aren't. We learned this lesson the hard way on several recent creative projects of our own. We found that our creative projects began to veer off track, and we realized that this was happening during the review process. 

Our creative team shared assets for review without providing any guidance or context for the reviewers. As a result, they received feedback that did not align with the original project goals.

These were initially small gaps, but as more versions of the creative work were produced and feedback given on each, those gaps became significant. Eventually, the divergence was discovered and the projects were brought back on track. However, before the gaps were identified, considerable creative effort and review time had been wasted across the team.

We asked ourselves how to avoid this from happening again.  

Introducing Proof briefs: Getting high-quality feedback on every creative asset

Once we looked at the problem, we realized the requirement to align the review team with the original creative brief. Additionally, there was an opportunity to go further and help reviewers give higher-quality feedback by specifically briefing them on what was needed for each version of each proof. 

That's why we are very proud to announce the release of a simple but powerful new feature called Proof briefs.

Proof briefs are a free text field that is pinned to the top of the comments list in a proof. They are an incredibly flexible way to brief the review team on that individual version of each proof. They are a simple way for the creative team to brief the review team on the context for that proof and specific elements to consider in that proof.

Ziflow proof viewer and comments section feature

In addition to text, Proof briefs can link to or attach reference documents. These might be the original creative brief, a checklist, brand guidelines, or any other reference document for the review team to consider. 

Proof briefs can be changed from version to version. The Proof brief for reviewers on earlier versions of an asset might be more detailed than those on later versions. For example, earlier versions might involve links to reference material. However, briefs on later versions may be as simple as reviewing a small revision made from the previous version. This way reviewers can be asked to focus on exactly what matters in that version.

The objective of proof briefs is very simple. They are designed to supply your review team with the information they need to give you the highest quality feedback possible and help you deliver the highest quality creative possible.

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