Creating Through A Lens Of Intent

 Image Courtesy of  Paul Skorupskas

Image Courtesy of Paul Skorupskas

Think, if you can, of your favorite ad campaign. A message or experience that resonated so strongly, that it inspired a deeper connection to the brand behind it. Now, imagine the thinking behind that ad. Chances are, the work did not emerge from a set of rigid requirements and projected results. Instead, the message was more likely guided by a clear sense of intent. 

One could argue that the difference between intent and say, the more routinely used ‘objective’ or 'goal' are negligible at best. It’s admittedly a subtle, semantic distinction, but one that I believe can have huge implications.

Intent implies a higher purpose. It suggests that what we’re aiming for is tied to to something bigger than just whatever short-term results we’re hoping to achieve.

When we start with a set of conditional results we’ve already required something of our audience. We’ve placed our demands ahead of their needs – all before a single line of copy has been crafted. 

Intent is what we start with not where we want to end up. It’s less quantifiable, more philosophical. Intent is about being inspiring, not demanding. 

Creating with intent starts with a fundamental, shared belief in the brand, it’s products and the values and promises that drive it. It also means respecting the audience and their ability to interpret messages that aren't necessarily explicit or instructional.

The typical creative brief might make a symbolic nod to intent but the urgency that often surrounds the process forces old habits to the forefront. When time and information are in short supply, we tend to default to a mindset of minimum viability. Considering intent can often mean acknowledging an inconvenient truth at a particularly inconvenient time. So we fall back on plug and play creative solutions that only serve the short-term.

But what if we allowed ourselves (and our briefs) the time and space to re-connect with the why behind the brand? Perhaps simply by checking in with an already articulated brand purpose and expanding the scope of our questions, we could help enable more inspired work. So that at the onset of a new creative effort, we can acknowledge any immediate business objectives but insist that they are addressed through the lens of a deeper intention.

Below are a just few sample questions designed to add a layer of intention to your existing creative brief :

What is our intention with this campaign/message?

How does this align with our brand purpose?

How will we demonstrate this alignment between message and purpose?

What do we hope viewers will feel upon seeing this message?

What are the values we want to see conveyed in this message/campaign?

Becoming more intentional in our communications planning doesn’t mean we forget all of the principles of effective advertising. Nor does it dismiss the role of functional brand messages. 

Instead, it aims to breathe some balance and purpose into a process often wrought with fear and control. And maybe by simply adjusting the lens through which we view the work, we give ourselves the freedom and space to create something truly memorable.