Every successful project begins with a clear objective and a game plan: A creative brief. In this blog post, we share templates, tips and a creative brief example.
Creative briefs are used in marketing, advertising, design, and project management. Think of it as a clear, concise summary of the project you want to complete or a blueprint of what you need to do to produce stellar work.
If you want to make sure all team members are on the same page and stay on track with the project, creative briefs are imperative.
This article explains what it takes to write an effective and complete brief that drives results.
What is a creative brief?
A creative brief is a short document that outlines a project's scope, goals, target audience, assets, and other key elements. It clearly communicates the objectives and the steps required to achieve the desired outcome.
Its role is to outline the creative requirements of a project and get everyone on the same page. A creative brief is typically created by project managers, account managers, or third-party consultants and should follow the client's requirements.
What is the purpose of a creative brief?
A creative brief provides direction for marketing, advertising, or design teams.
This short yet insightful document also helps internal teams, account managers, freelancers, and other parties working on a project understand the client's vision.
Having all this data in one place can increase work efficiency and accuracy while helping your team save time. Plus, it brings consistency to the process and prevents misunderstandings. A creative brief will streamline collaboration between copywriters, designers, and other parties, keep them accountable, and shorten the approval process.
Not every project requires a creative brief, but you should use one for complex tasks, kickoffs, and projects that last for several months.
Depending on your needs, you can either write the document from scratch or use a creative brief template and customize it for each client or project.
What to include in a creative brief
Creative briefs are typically one to two pages long and cover the following aspects:
- Project title and description
- Company information
- Competitor analysis
- Project goals and challenges
- Target audience
- Key messaging
- Unique value proposition (UVP)
- Deliverables and assets
- Brand guidelines
Depending on the project and the client, a creative brief will vary in structure.
Either way, you'll want to outline the key steps in the creative process and include any relevant information on the company, its products, its target audience, and other aspects.
Writing creative briefs is a collaborative effort. Chances are, you'll need input from several teams and departments. For example,
- Your marketing team may conduct a competitive analysis, provide customer data, and research the latest industry trends.
- Your creative team may analyze the client's mission, and brand messaging, create visual content, write website copy, and so on.
Each project has different requirements and deliverables, and the initial brief may undergo several changes. Think of it as a living document that can be tweaked and updated.
Creative brief example
This creative brief example from Hush Puppies is basic but covers the essentials and can serve as a starting point for most projects.
Unlike a business plan, this document won't detail the company's objectives, target audience, competitors, and other aspects. Instead, it should provide enough information to complete the project.
The Audience field, for instance, will include basic but important details like:
"Women, 25 to 35 years old, medium income, tertiary education, one or more children. They enjoy cooking, traveling, and trying out new gadgets. The target customer spends at least X on home appliances per year."
Creative brief template
Use this creative brief template as an outline for your next project.
Project title and description: _________________________
Company information: Explain your product or services, business goals, and market opportunities.
Competitor analysis: Describe competitors, their messaging, strengths, and weaknesses. How can these factors influence this campaign?
Project goals and challenges: Detailed goals, desired outcomes, and measurable objectives.
Target audience: Who are you targeting with this project? Describe their demographics, values, interests, needs, and lifestyle.
Key messaging: What should your audience feel, think or do? (This will be your call to action)
Unique value proposition: Define in a few sentences how your offering benefits your target audience, and what your solution is to their pain point.
Deliverables and assets: Describe deliverables and assets needed for each channel.
- Social media:
Brand guidelines: What are the creative requirements for this campaign? Include a link to your brand guidelines.
- Stakeholder 1
- Stakeholder 2
- Stakeholder 3
- Date 1 + description
- Date 2 + description
- Date 3 + description
Budget: Define the budget that is available to complete this project and details on how it should be allocated.
How to write a creative brief
Now that we’ve shared a creative brief example and template, let’s explore practical tips for when you’re creating a brief from scratch.
1. Ask the right questions
How you structure your creative brief matters to some extent, but there are other more important aspects to consider.
First of all, make sure your brief provides enough data to be useful. Then, ask yourself the following questions before getting started:
- Why are we doing this?
- What characteristics define the brand?
- Who is our target customer?
- What is the state of our competition?
- What's our primary business objective?
- What is the project scope?
- What's the most important idea to communicate?
- What elements do you include?
- Does the content align with past or previous projects/campaigns?
- How are we going to measure success?
If you want to draft a content marketing brief, you'll also provide information on the target keywords, topics, minimum word count for blog posts, and more.
Writing up a content marketing brief is super easy with StoryChief. It has a built-in creative brief section that you can customize to make sure all necessary elements are included. Watch this step-by-step academy video 📹 on using and assigning editorial briefs to writers and contributors.
In one study, nearly 70% of marketers reported having difficulty getting the information they needed to start a creative project. Given this aspect, it makes sense to have a discovery call with the client, followed by a kickoff meeting with your team.
Try to figure out what you don’t know, and then gather the necessary data to connect the dots and put everything together. See these meeting agenda examples to plan things out and have more productive team meetings.
2. Keep it short and sweet
A creative brief is what it sounds like: a brief document designed to guide creative work.
Therefore, you should keep it short, concise, and to the point.
Using many charts, graphs, bullet points, and other data will only create clarity and speed things up. Brand consultant Graham Robertson recommends writing short creative briefs that cover the following:
- A single strategic objective
- A single, core message
- A well-defined customer group
- One call-to-action
- Two reasons customers should trust the brand
A strong brief should provide actionable insights, not just a bunch of data. Also, avoiding "fluff," such as clichés and unnecessary or irrelevant information, is important.
Robertson also suggests backing up your claims with hard facts. For example, only saying you sell a top-of-the-line product recommended by experts doesn't hold any value. Instead, you should cite a study or conduct your own research to back up these statements.
3. Narrow down your goals
Knowing how to set goals is crucial for project management. Creative work allows for more flexibility than traditional projects, but you still need clear and specific objectives.
Robertson recommends choosing one strategic objective for each brief. You might lose sight of things if you try to accomplish too much at once.
Imagine the following scenario: You're writing a creative brief for a sports beverage company. Your client wants to launch an advertising campaign that drives customers to try out its products.
The question is, do you want more people to buy its products or the same number of people to buy more?
Each of these objectives requires a different approach. Sure, you could try to kill two birds with one stone, but it would require significantly more time, money, and resources. According to Robertson, a smarter approach is to draft two separate briefs for two distinct projects, each with a different budget and deliverables.
4. Provide creative direction
No two brands are the same, and each company or product requires a different approach from a creative standpoint. For this reason, it's important to provide clear, concise, brand guidelines in the brief.
Gather your team and discuss:
- Writing tone and style
- Placement and size of visuals
- Logo specs
- Design inspiration
Consider the company's audience, business objectives, and past or current projects.
For example, if you plan to write content for a customer's website, it makes sense to emulate the tone and style used in previous posts. The same goes for landing pages, social media content, images, and other creative assets.
Write better creative briefs that get results
Writing a creative brief is both an art and a science. A creative brief is there to help your team. It provides strategic direction, and, at the most basic level, it should tell your team what to do to achieve results. The more concise you are, the faster you'll get everyone on the same page.
Before you get started with your next creative project, use the creative brief example and template provided in this blog post to ensure project success.