Show Them Your Creative Briefs

You don’t have to be a big time ad agency or even run a traditional “creative” business to benefit from a creative brief. Maybe you’ve hired an outside team to help you design and build a new website or refresh your logo. Maybe your marketing team is about to get started on Linkedin ads. Both of these examples benefit from a creative brief.

So who is it for and what does it do?

A common misconception is that the creative brief is for the client. Nope. It’s not entirely for the creative team either. It’s for both.

A well constructed brief, put together by the creative team, harnesses all the important details of the project and frames it in a way that provides validation between client and team and sets a track for the creative team to move forward upon. When the creative team gets the client to sign off on the brief they’ve helped to reduce second-guessing from both sides. It’s all right there in the brief.

In order to accomplish this however, a good creative brief needs to answer at least the following questions:

  1. What is the purpose of the project? An example might be, “to educate a specific market segment to the benefits of ourĀ  xyz product offering.” The purpose of the project is not to, “build a new website.”
  2. What is the melody line or the main thought? This is what you’re trying to get across in the communication. It could be a point of differentiation, a new feature or a current event that makes your product or service more desirable right now. It could be something else too. What are you trying to say?
  3. Who is the target? People 18-65 with 2 arms and 2 legs is 2 broad. Narrow down your target so you can talk to them more directly. They will appreciate it and you’ll generate more conversations because of it. Often times it helps to provide a quick consumer profile so the target audience seems more real during the creation process.
  4. What do we want the audience to do? Consider the call-to-action now and it makes the process easier later. Will you want the audience to call or visit a url or see you at a trade show, etc?
  5. What is the Tone of the piece? Make sure you’re communicating from a brand voice that is consistent to your chosen medium. If it’s across social media your voice may be less formal. Also consider any industry or target specific vocabulary that should be incorporated.
  6. What are the visual considerations and guidelines? Is this communication piece photography heavy or do custom graphics need to be made? What are the size requirements? Are there additional components like landing pages, stickers, billboards? Provide summary guidelines for each.
  7. What are must haves and must avoids? List each. For example: URLs or QR Codes, legal language, charts, logos, phone numbers, tracking codes or whatever else may be applicable.
  8. What is the time frame for completion and who is responsible for what?

Spending the extra time completing and distributing a creative brief helps to get everyone on the same page and bring to light any roadblocks before the project is underway. Oh, and it’s called a brief so try to keep it that way.

Have other recommendations for an effective creative brief? Well, don’t just sit there, tell us about them in the comments section.

photo credit: Aaron Stidwell
modified by Shout Out Studio

About Nathaniel Seevers

Nathaniel combines a background in brand communications & design with experience in marketing, copy writing and business development. When not in the office you'll likely find Nathaniel outside with his dog or in his home office listening to records.