Writing a compelling creative brief takes work. You want a creative brief to read clearly and concisely, which can be difficult to do in so few words.
What is a creative brief?
A creative brief is a document that describes what will go into a creative work. It's a short, brief summary of the company's background and campaign goals — you can use a creative brief, therefore, as a blueprint for all types of deliverables, whether you're working on promotional products, videos, written content, a podcast, social media visuals, etc.
So, what is a creative brief used for? Whether you're working on a graphic design, a new video, a product launch or something else creative, you'll likely use a creative brief to describe the direction of the campaign in order to achieve the final outcome — the final design, video, product, etc. A creative brief basically ensures that everyone involved in the creation is on the same page with what's involved and the overall mission of the creation.
Who writes a creative brief? Usually, the company that either hires a creative team to make the creation will write the creative brief to share with their contractor in order to keep the contractor abreast of the campaign's mission and goals. If the creation is for an in-house project (a company may employ an in-house creative team), the creative team working on the creative brief may just use the creative brief that they or someone else in the company writes in order to ensure that everyone on the team is in the loop and aware of the end goals.
In short, a creative brief should describe the Who, the What and the Why of your campaign — but it's up to the creative team to come up with the How.
A creative brief is a good investment in time, as it can save a lot of time later down the line and even motivate the creative team to see the project to fruition.
How do you create a creative brief?
There are several different elements of a creative brief — and, depending on the project at hand, there might be more or less elements. These are the basic elements for most creative briefs, however.
Note: Whatever the case, make sure that your creative brief is as concise, specific and clearly worded as possible. You want to address all potential questions, challenges and opportunities at hand so that everyone is on the same page and working toward the same overall goals.
1. Your company’s background and general ethos
First things first, you want to share the background of your company and your mission. Describe who you are as a company and what makes your company unique. This will help the creative team working on your project understand who and what they're trying to portray.
2. A project explanation and request for creative
This bit of the creative brief will be unique to the creative project you're seeking. You'll explain your overall project (perhaps it's a larger campaign) and your request (maybe it's social media copy to promote a new product). This portion of your creative brief is important so that everyone understands what the ask is here.
3. Your audience (and target audience) demographic information
Your creative team needs to understand to whom they're talking. Understanding the type of audience your company reaches or your company wants to reach will help the creative team shape the content, designs and other creatives. After all, talking to millennials requires different messaging than talking to Gen Z and Baby Boomers. They have different interests and even consume content in different ways. Likewise, talking to men vs. women or upper-class consumers vs. middle-class consumers requires different messaging, too.
4. Your objective
What are you hoping to achieve with your creation? What are the end goals you'd like to meet as a result of the deliverables? Make this clear so that the creative team knows what they're aiming for. When they have a vision, they can work together to achieve that.
5. Your brand voice
Do you have a specific style of speaking or writing that your brand uses that resonates with your audience? Make sure you make that clear. Maybe there are words or phrases that you avoid or ban — make sure you state that early on, too, so as to avoid any unnecessary revisions down the line. In the same vein, if there are colors or symbols you want to use in your logo or brand promotional visuals — or colors and symbols you want to avoid — make note of it. If your social media imagery has a specific style (or you use a certain filter on all of your images to give it a blanket look), let the creative team know.
6. Your competition or anticipated challenges
Describe your competition and/or any challenges you anticipate facing with this campaign so that the creative team can start thinking proactively about how to prevent problems, instead of having to figure out how to fix problems later. Proactive working is better than reactive working.
For example, are you competing against a similar company that already has an edge over you in terms of audience? Are you trying to tap into that same audience and convince them to choose your brand instead? This is important information so that the creative team knows exactly who to target and how to position your company as better than your specific competition.
7. Logistical details
Last but not least, you'll need to provide the creative team with specifics like your budget, timeline, mini-goal deadlines, your overall deadline and other pertinent logistics. Make sure that you include everything you can think of here — it's better to include an exhaustive list of logistics that the creative team may not need than to leave out details that might have been important.
AnnaMarie Houlis is a feminist, a freelance journalist and an adventure aficionado with an affinity for impulsive solo travel. She spends her days writing about women’s empowerment from around the world. You can follow her work on her blog, HerReport.org, and follow her journeys on Instagram @her_report, Twitter @herreportand Facebook.