What’s a Creative Brief?

Understanding how to write a creative brief is the foundation for all well executed marketing projects. A good creative brief is essential for making sure everyone clearly understands what you want. It doesn’t have to be complex but writing one should be the first thing you do.

Key Benefits

You thought you’d asked for a racehorse but instead you got a camel! Because someone in the team thought the humps looked good.

If you’re not clear about how you want your brand to look, sound and feel in your creative assets. Then the execution will suffer.

The better the brief, the more likely it will be that your creative partners deliver work that hits the spot first time. This way fewer revisions are needed down the road.

You may find that you build your own more refined picture of what you’re hoping to accomplish, when you gather your thoughts concisely and in one place.

When you’re asked to sign off a project you can ask yourself, does the creative work meet the creative brief? Even when you’ve completed a project, your brief maintains value.

Although it is no longer needed on an active basis, it can be a useful reference, when working on similar projects.

An Incisive Blueprint

When you write a creative brief, think of it as a blueprint. One that’s designed to offer your creative partners a clear understanding about how you see the project. What you’re hoping to accomplish, the audience you’re trying to reach and the voice in which you’d like your messages delivered.

Project Details

It doesn’t matter what you’re commissioning. If its graphic design work, website development or marketing communications, then your creative brief should be concise enough to occupy just a single page. However, it’s important that it includes enough detail to ensure that everyone’s on the same page.

Inspiring Collaboration

Establishing clear guidelines from the outset will form the backbone for efficient collaboration between you and your creative partners. After all, if you’re spending time and money to commission a piece of work, then it’s important to ensure that everyone can deliver efficiently.

Your final brief can be as open or as rigid as both parties are comfortable with. But the best creative briefs outline a framework within which the creatives are given jurisdiction to add value. By being creative!

Keep in mind that your creative brief isn’t meant to be written and then left stagnant. At the beginning of a project, it’s the starting point for inspiration and conversations with the creatives. During which the document can evolve as the requirements continue to be scoped and tweaked.

Answer 4 Basic Questions:

Knowing what to include in your creative brief will save you time. Sometimes clients will come to us with an existing creative brief. If not, then we will collaborate to develop one. Either way a good brief will answer four basic questions:

  • What’s the project?

  • Who’s it for?

  • Why are we doing it?

  • What’s the objective?

Essential Creative Brief Elements.

Part 1: Background

Begin by summarising the core elements of your business, so that someone who is unfamiliar with it, can understand your brand and its position. Of course, this may be left out if you’re already working with someone who is familiar with your company.

Part 2: Project Details

This is about highlighting what you’re looking for and how it fits into the larger strategy for your company. It helps creatives to understand what you require in terms of deliverables.

For example, you might explain that you’re commissioning a new website to refresh your branding and attract more customers. Perhaps you’re requesting artwork for an advert to raise awareness for a new product or is this about creating artwork for a new product?

Part 3: Objectives

Think about what you’re looking for beyond the assets generated by the project. What do you want to accomplish? For example, are you hoping to reach and engage with new customers?

Audience

Consider what success will look like and how you will measure it. By providing a desired outcome you’ll help your creatives to visualize the most effective execution.

Part 4: Target Audience

Who are you targeting, who will be consuming your deliverables? Try your best to define what that person looks like by outlining demographics such as age and gender. Ideally, you’ll include some details about their behaviours and desires.

The more you understand about your audience, the more successful your creatives will become at hitting the sweet spot of your request.

Top Tips

If you simply don’t have enough time to get it done, jot down a rough heading for each part. Then ask your agency to complete the draft.

They’ll collaborate with you to do the heavy lifting. After all it’s also in their interest to make sure everyone is on the same page.

Avoid using lots of jargon. Being clear and concise will help make your requirements easy to understand and leave room for the brief to develop through collaboration, if necessary.

Such as the free download included with this article. By sticking to an established formula, you’ll quickly develop a method that works, for sharing effective briefs.

Control the strategy but leave the creatives a freedom for original thought. That way ideas can develop ideas within the bounds of the objective, not the other way around!

This can’t be stressed enough, focus on the objective alongside a simple message. Then simply consider who that is message for and once they’re exposed to it how you want them to react?

Once you’ve created a brief, don’t just toss it aside and forget about it. Share it.

That way everyone involved in the project can keep it on track by regularly asking: does the creative work meet the brief?

Part 5: Tone & Style

Think of this as a style guide that reflects your brand. Do you have a specific tone of voice that you always communicate in? Is there a message or a specific word that you need to hammer home? When your audience receive that message, what should they think, how do you want them to feel and what should they want?

If you have existing brand guidelines like for example a colour palette, then share them here or direct stakeholders on where to find them.

Part 6: Competition

Including details about your competition isn’t essential. But for certain projects doing so can help creatives identify new ways for uniquely positioning the subject of your project in the marketplace.

Competition

Perhaps there is something that your competitors do well which you want to use as inspiration?

Part 7: Timing & Budget

Finally, you may want to include details about your budget and important deliverable due dates. Of course, this will be part of a larger conversation, but providing this level of detail will help align your creative partners.

If you’re working with an agency for the first time, make sure you’ve acquired some background information about their price range and turnaround time. This will help to avoid unnecessary misunderstandings and potential roadblocks further down the line.