Planning is an essential part of any project. This is no less true when it comes to marketing. In fact, the first step for any project is creating a plan with clear objectives, and a thorough background. Regardless if you’re designing logos, building websites, creating marketing campaigns, or even writing eBooks, it’s imperative that you know what a creative brief is, how to effectively write one, and how to use one to keep a project focused in the direction.
Creative Brief Template Links:
If you’re just here for the creative brief templates, have at it:
General Project Creative Brief Template — This is your general project brief, it’s quick and dirty, and will get enough information down on paper to get the client’s buy in.
Website Creative Brief Template — Website projects are complex. They deal with many moving parts, and need to deal with integrations across multiple technologies. This brief will ensure all project components are captured before starting the project.
What is a creative brief?
A creative brief is a concise, yet detailed document that provides information on what the goals of a project are and all relevant project and brand background information. They are not unique to specific kinds of projects, as they can be used for any creative deliverable. For instance, in the marketing industry it would cover the goals that need to be achieved for a client’s marketing plan. A brief that’s written correctly will assist your creative partner or client with understanding how you view a project, the target audience, and the kind of deliverables that need to be completed.
“A creative brief is the most sacred of all ad documents.” – Will Burns, Ideasicle
Why should you use a creative brief?
While developing a good creative brief will take extra time, it will be worth it in the end. Taking this extra step will allow you to explain your plan to your client before beginning on their project. Not only will it help to ensure you understand the scope of the project correctly, but it will save you from having to go back and redo work you’ve already completed. A creative brief can come in virtually any format. You can create a PowerPoint presentation, Word document, PDF, or any other document or presentation type you prefer. The only thing you should ensure is that it contains certain information.
How to Write a Creative Brief
Writing a creative brief is a straightforward task, you’re simply filling out a template. But the research that goes into what you’re writing in the template, well, that’s the hard part.
Let’s take a look at key information that should be included.
Typical Sections in a Creative Brief
#1. Scope of Work
In the most simple terms, what are we doing here? Describe the project as agreed to in the proposal/contract/estimate. Be very specific about what the final deliverable will be.
#2. Brand/company background information
This section simply details who the company, and what they stand for.
The first part of your creative brief should set the tone for the rest of it. This is the part that shows you understand the client’s brand. Begin by providing one or two sentences to sum up the company’s business model, buyers, and mission. Then follow with several sentences that provide background information on the brand.
#3. Project objectives and challenges
The next section should contain a short paragraph explaining challenges that the brand is trying to solve with the project. Provide some details on solutions the project will offer. This is a helpful section that emphasizes why the project is necessary. The objectives will help align the team with what’s expected from the project.
If the client didn’t identify any challenges, use this area to focus on objectives and goals. Explain what an effective project looks like and how the company will benefit from it.
“It goes without saying. Yet, still some agencies just don’t do it. In the jazz of tasks, many creative teams just skim through the brief and then they give the client a call or ask for a debriefing meeting. One can’t stress how huge this mistake is.” – ProfileTree
#4. Target audience
To create content that will properly engage the audience, it’s important to understand who the audience is. This section should be used to narrow down a specific audience and what types of information is important to them.
You should include demographics such as geography, gender, and age. It’s also useful to include factors such as customer motivations and pain points in the brief. If your client has provided you with a detailed buyer persona, this is the perfect place to include that character information.
#5. Accepted Buyer Belief About the Category
What is the belief among buyers about this product/service category? How is the category positioned in buyer’s minds? Is this category a necessity, or a nice to have? Do they feel most offerings are commoditized? Or do they feel like there are too many custom options? Is there work we need to do in marketing the category, as well as the product service?
Understanding the competitive landscape of the business is important for the entire team. Using competitive data can help to identify ideas that haven’t been used yet, learn from failed projects, and even help build on strategies that have been used before.
It’s useful to include a short list of competitors who offer similar services or products. You can also list a few things the companies have in common, how the brand you’re working with has differentiated itself, and some ways the project can help move ahead of the competition.
“You see, when it comes to digital competition a core competitor might not be someone who gets the job you just bid on, it might just as likely be a business you’ve never heard of that ranks well for the type of terms you need to rank for. Or, it might be an advertiser that does such a great job with the relevance of their ads that they are forcing your ad bids higher than they should be. If you think of competitive research not simply as a way to get one up on a competitor, but as a way to grow and learn and discover, you might make it a priority.” John Jantsch, Duct Tape Marketing
#7. Constraints and Restrictions
What are constraints and restrictions of the project? What can’t we do? Are the size, or technical limitations that need be considered? What about legal restrictions? Are their things we can’t say legally?
#8. Announcement and distribution plan
Once the project is finished, you’ll need a firm plan on how to deliver it to the audience. Use this section to list platforms or channels that you’ll use to announce the project on. Also include any promotional content that will be created.
When developing this section, you’ll need to once again consider the target audience. It’s a waste of time to create a promotional strategy that won’t be seen. For instance, if you’re trying to capture the attention of Generation Z, it’s best to utilize social media rather than newspaper ads or billboards.
After you’ve listed distribution areas, you should also list captions or messages that will accompany the promotion.
Choose the right creative brief template
You can either follow our list of points here to create your own template, or there are plenty of free sample templates on the internet. Regardless, make sure that each section is laid out properly and it’s easy to follow. While you want to include a lot of information, be sure not to include too much. Remember, the best creative briefs are concise, yet detailed.
The best part about choosing a template is that once you have one created you can use it for future projects by simply editing it to fit your needs.
Share the brief
Once you’ve followed the steps above and have the perfect creative brief made, you’ll need to share it. Be sure to share it with your marketing team and other relevant people at your company, (or the client if you’re an agency). It’s also useful to encourage your client to share the brief at their company.
Always remember that remaining open to questions and receiving feedback on your work is the best way to never miss out on great ideas. When you follow this strategy, it not only helps improve the alignment of your team, but it also increases the project’s level of support, and insures everyone is on the same page.