Nike has found lasting success through giving serious and consistent attention to three foundational pieces of their brand:
Product - Nike has stayed true to their founding mission by continually creating quality products for athletes with a focus on making them better.
Endorsements - Nike has spent huge sums of money to attract and hold the most iconic athletes in the world to be the face of the brand in action.
Culture - Nike has consistently amplified its voice through provocative entries into pop culture through entertainment and social issues.
Nike has been able to preserve the founding ethos of Phil Knight and Bill Bowerman, who set out to make products that would serve and improve the performance of world class athletes. Early on they aggressively sought out top, aspirational athletes to go set world records and win championships while wearing Nikes.
The performances spoke for themselves to fellow athletes and sports fans. But Nike’s next revolution as a brand was to unearth and amplify the voice of the athlete. Through a mix of provocative, imaginative and entertaining marketing that leveraged their athletes, Nike came to stand for both championship level performance AND attitude. Every athlete was positioned to be approachable and just damn cool. Nike found a way to be a sports brand that is rooted in both authentic sports and pop culture.
This is a formula that has worked over the years. The athletes have changed, but Nike has continued to find a way to make athletes inspirational beyond the realm of just athletes and sports fans. They have found a sophisticated way of using sports as a metaphor and lens to view society. They have partnered with their athletes to make bold statements about provocative topics such as racism, cancer, AIDS and equality. This is an approach and counter intuitive leap that other sports brands have failed to make. Nike continues to bet on the absolute best athletes, teams and leagues in the world, while also feeding their brand into culture and sub cultures through sportswear.
The problem could be about a negative perception that needs flipping. It could be that no one realizes a certain product’s key benefit. It could be a topical societal problem that a brand wants to address.
The bigger and more immediate the problem, the better and more provocative the creative solutions will be. If there is no problem clearly identified, you run the risk of inspiring a very generic set of creative solutions.
A creative brief should carry a feeling of immediacy. You should inspire the creative team to see a very specific window of opportunity. The brief should feel relevant and timely and like it could only be delivered under the current set of circumstances. This approach will light the creative fires.
Great creative briefs clearly lay out a relevant conversation within a specific target audience. The conversation should be as polarizing as possible, and the creative brief should educate the creative team on what the debates in this conversation are.
Everything outside of the specific problem that needs immediate solving, is extremely secondary. If you have inspired the creative team to understand the breadth and depth of your central problem, you have done an extraordinary job delivering your creative brief.