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When The Brief isn’t the brief

Untangling the infernal chaos.

May 3, 2024

Headshot of Kyle Monson - Founding partner at Codeword

Kyle Monson

Founding partner at Codeword

One lesson I’ve learned over 15 years across hundreds of clients: Sometimes the biggest marketing challenges aren’t solved with marketing. 

So many briefs also have a “brief behind the brief,” an unsaid business challenge or a larger problem to solve, along with the marketing need in the brief itself.

Maybe it’s about managing a tricky exec stakeholder. Or helping different silos on the marketing team work better together. Building a case for more budget. Getting on the same page with the sales team. The longer we work with clients (and we have a few decade-plus partnerships), the more those implied briefs become explicit ones. And that’s when the fun really starts, with the kind of challenging, strategic, consultative work we love to sink our teeth into. 

Codeword’s positioning as a communication design agency is our best attempt to describe that work. It’s a holistic way of looking at a company’s communication, wherever it might appear, and the needs of the audience, whoever it might be. And the realization that communication is pretty much everything. It can mean creating a specific piece of content. It can also mean building a full editorial program, reimagining your channel strategy, developing a change-management plan to help your team do things differently, the list goes on to infinity. 

When you’re stuck on a less-than-inspiring brief, or you’re in a rut and feel like things could be better, that’s a great time to step back for a moment and ask yourself: 

What does real success look like? 

What will it take to get there? 

Is the effort worth it? 

The answer to that last one is usually “yes”! And one final question: 

Do I have the resources around me to make it happen? 

If you’re not sure, let’s chat! Communication design can be a helpful lens through which you’ll see your challenges differently — read more about it here. 

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