Let's face it, communications briefs are very brand biased.
I like this questioning I saw:
"The brand will be a very small part of the target customers' lives. What's the rest of it like?"
"Where does the brand fit in? Where could the brand fit in?"
At least it's realistic about the role of brands. But it doesn't really reflect how people buy stuff, or that's what I think.
People still buy products, brands are a much values short-cut to choosing. But people care about them much less than we tend to think.
I'm not going to beat anyone around the head with Byron Sharpe, but let's just dwell on the fact that most buyers couldn't tell you why the brand they buy is different and buy others anyway.
I think the focal point of any brief is knowing how or why people buy the category. What goes through their mind when they're buying it?
For example. if you're selling cars, are you selling sports cars? If so, you need to know how people who are not buyers view the product and brand. A sports car is mostly a badge, you need to know what that badge says to others.
While an MPV buyer is probably looking for a trade off between space and something that doesn't feel like a bus to drive. They'll divide between those who don't give a monkeys what others think and those that don't want to look like they've 'given up' on life beyond parenting.
With sportscars, you'll probably be looking for 'positive wastage' and getting the product in front of folks who won't buy but will judge.
With MPV's you're talking to the practical person a lot more. Maybe.
If you're selling soft drinks, brands are huge of course, but belief in taste, increasingly sugar levels and what it might go with (food for example) matter also. You can have a well loved soft drinks brand with sales falling because folks believe it will make them fat and think the sugar free option tastes rubbish.
So maybe briefs and stuff should be a little less brand obsessed.
"What's the business problem"
"What does that look like from a buyer perspective"
"What can we do to change this"
"When and where is the best for this to happen"
"Why would people care?"