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The Definitive Guide to Creative Briefs

These days, more and more companies are using creative briefs to manage their creative projects efficiently and effectively. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything related to creative briefs and answer your most-asked questions. Let’s get started. But before that, take your pick!

What is a creative brief?

A creative brief is a document that explains the details of a campaign to an agency, a creative team, or a designer. It helps the creative team to understand what’s expected of them and also allows a project manager to shape the goals and overall strategy for the project.

A good creative brief takes a bit of time to develop. However, it is a useful tool in ensuring that the project deliverables align with the client’s expectations and their business needs. In addition, a good brief makes the whole project more efficient—it saves both the client and the agency money in the long run. But before you start working on the brief, take time to think about the project and the objectives.

Who creates a creative brief?

A creative brief can be written by a project manager, creative director, designer, producer, account executive, strategist, or planner. The person with the most knowledge about a project is the best person to write the brief.

As the account manager creates the document, they consult with the client to ensure they capture all the important information. So, a creative brief interprets a client’s ideas and vision. But since it’s usually created by the company or agency handling the project, it is open-ended in nature.

Who is a creative brief made for?

The project team, the client, and other stakeholders. It allows everyone involved in the project to understand the objectives, the audience, the messages, and the key deliverables.

Why is a creative brief written?

A creative brief forms the foundation of any successful creative project management or campaign. It makes the client’s vision clear and ensures everyone is on the same page. The brief outlines the strategy of a project and contains details like the project’s goals, purpose, requirements, demographics, messaging, and other key information in project management.

Why is a creative brief important?

A creative brief is created before the design process begins and serves as a guide throughout the project. It also organizes a client’s objectives. But since many creative briefs are short (between 1 and 2 pages) and inward-facing, most organizations undervalue their importance.

But the document can have many benefits and create a foundation for the different phases of work that will happen down the road. Let’s look at 6 reasons why you should have a solid creative brief.

1. It ensures everyone is on the same page

A creative brief gets all project participants on the same page: account managers, creative directors, designers, and copywriters. Not everyone attends every client meeting or gets involved in the project from start to finish.

For example, if your agency is creating an ad, the voice-over artist and the character animator may only be involved in the project for a brief period. The creative brief lets everyone know what’s expected of them. That’s why it must be easy to read and contain all the relevant information.

2. It’s a reviewable document

Long after you’ve completed a project, a creative brief will still continue to offer value. You can refer to it when working on similar projects. It will help you know what you did right before and give insight into what you’ll need to do to achieve similar success. So, be sure to save the document as you may need it down the road.

3. It captures the client’s tone and value proposition (brand messaging)

A creative brief captures the client’s tone and value proposition. It doesn’t just contain quotes about the client’s product or service. For your brief to be strong, it must go the extra mile and have a vision. It must describe the client’s wants, needs, and requirements. Make sure that it is clear enough for all stakeholders to understand.

4. It makes for effective project execution

Because a creative brief pairs vision with information, it addresses your overarching responsibility. The creative team can go through it and understand the desired results. Also, they gain a lot of insight into the strategies they can use to achieve the results. A brief is particularly helpful when there’s a strong connection between the product, the brand, and the tone.

What are the benefits of a creative brief?

Here are just a few benefits of a creative brief:

1. It defines a brand

When you’re crafting a creative brief, you must take time to clearly understand the brand. You must capture the image customers have of the business before you start the project. Take time to define the brand thoughtfully before the market does it for you.

Every aspect of the brief must fit the brand’s style. That way, every team member can assess how each task reaffirms that style. For example, the colors, graphics, and content must all follow the same design to meet the overall objective.

2. It helps you to identify the audience

A creative brief must clearly identify the target audience. You can carry out research to find out what different demographic groups respond to. For example, if you’re targeting teens, find out what they are listening to, watching, and wearing.

A creative brief can also help you to pick the right spokesperson for your ads. In the brief, including the target audience, their modes of communication, their spending patterns, and how you’ll connect with them.

3. It gives you a clear vision

Many company missions comprise a sentence or two. However, when that mission is translated across mediums, it loses clarity. A creative brief gives you clarity because it explains the vision and goals being dealt with.

Spend a lot of time in the beginning understanding the client’s vision because you’ll be able to create a firm foundation for the project. If you don’t, your results may differ from the client’s original vision—especially if your team comprises creatives.

Marketing Strategy Template
Use our marketing strategy template to help plan increased exposure of your business’s offerings and amplify your organization’s revenue.

What are the 7 key elements of a creative brief?

A professionally-crafted creative brief can jumpstart a project and save you a lot of headaches. Include all the important elements in your brief to avoid any confusion later on. It will help the creative team get things done as per the client’s requirements.

The client can also use the brief to track the progress of the campaign. A creative brief should consist of 7 key elements:

The client’s needs: Take time to explain to your team the client’s requirements. Only start the campaign when the goal is clear and measurable. When you and the client have the same vision, things proceed smoothly. You can start with a pre-defined creative brief template.

The scope of the project: This is similar to the purpose of the project. It comprises different parameters like the goals, KPIs (key performance indicators), and processes. These 3 essential things will help you and the client to agree on how the project will run.

Market and audience demographics: Write about the demographics the client wants to reach. The entire campaign is pegged on this key element. If you get it wrong, you’ll waste a lot of time and resources. Sit down with the client and ask them about their target audience before creating the brief to avoid confusion and doubt.

Competitor analysis: Highlight the amount of risk the project faces. Carry out research to help the client know how the project will outsmart the competition. You may need to monitor competitors digitally before creating this section.

Competitor Analysis Template
A competitive analysis allows you to understand the market and create unique strategies based on your strengths.

Brand messaging: Ensure that the project aligns with the interests of the client and their business. Make it clear how the campaign will benefit their brand.

Key deliverables: These are the milestones to be tracked during the campaign with the help of project tracking software. They let the client know whether the campaign is progressing as expected. Project deliverables include increased customer engagement, a specific number of leads, or increased revenue by a specific deadline.

Deadlines: Ensure the deadlines are clear to everyone involved. You can write the deadlines for every milestone to help the client understand the campaign’s pace.

Which questions should you ask yourself when writing a creative brief?

With the right blueprint, every project produces great results. But oftentimes, project teams work without strong guiding principles. A carefully crafted creative brief can inspire teams and keep them focused. But to create a great brief, a lot of information is needed so all the big questions should be answered in advance.

Here are 9 questions that should get answered by your creative brief:

Why are we doing this? This question helps creative teams understand the more detailed information that comes later.

What is the objective? The creative team needs to know the vision and how progress will be measured. If the objective isn’t defined, the project may continue to expand but never get completed.

What is the budget? If you don’t specify the project’s budget, your team won’t know the effort and resources needed.

Who is the target audience? Do you want to reach a mass audience or focus on one niche group? Understand the target audience by consulting the client and doing lots of research.

What is the project’s message? If you had to describe the project in one sentence, what would you say? What is the key takeaway? If you don’t understand the project, no one else will.

How will the message be transmitted? Will you use websites, branded video content, social media, signage, logos, or traditional media? Consider the channels for transmitting your message.

What is the project’s tone? What’s the style and feel you’re aiming for? The tone should be determined by the client’s brand and the target audience. For example, B2B messaging is usually formal and jargon-laden.

What is the timeline? Create milestones to ensure your team is productive and efficient. The creative brief may also explain how many rounds of revisions are needed.

Who okayed the project? In most cases, the creative director usually gives the final sign-off. Make it clear who the final authority is.

5 common creative brief mistakes

Having too many goals: This can confuse the creative team; they won’t know what to focus on. Sit down with the client and discuss what they want from the project. If they have many goals, focus on the most important one. If there’s one thing your brief should do, it is to provide clarity and direction.

Not establishing a target audience: Let the creative team understand who the target audience is and what motivates them—paint the full picture. Include all the relevant information about the audience, it’s the only way you can build a campaign for them.

Copy-pasting information: If you’ve worked with a client for a long time, you may be tempted to reuse information from an earlier brief. Don’t give in to the temptation, make every brief unique so the creative team doesn’t skim the repeated material.

Using generic descriptions: Avoid using meaningless descriptions or jargon, they don’t add anything to the brief. Write in simple English and leave out terms like cutting-edge, innovative, original, etc. Simply explain what sets the client apart from the competition.

Leaving out some information: Provide all of the information that is essential to the project. Don’t leave anything out, not even the small technical details you consider unimportant. You risk creating a concept that can’t be executed.

Will a creative brief save time and money?

Yes. When you write a creative brief to outline a project’s vision, timeline, audience, and measurables, you create a roadmap for success. You also show your client that you’re both working towards the same goal. A brief also acts as your safety net in case things change during the course of the project.

Use project management templates or an online project management software like Kissflow Project to create a solid brief for your campaign, starting today.

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