Starting with a problem allows for a larger universe of possible answers. A typical agency creative brief is a distilled positioning document – useful in many but not every case. In the case where a functional creative solution is needed, we require a tight definition of the problem, not the communications proposition.
Defining the problem requires rigorous research. We need to check that the problem isn’t one that’s coloured by our personal view of the world. It needs to be grounded in real consumer insight. As Google rightly said, “Start with the user and all else will follow.” More empathy, less ego.