Before embarking on any project, whether big or small, you need to define the goals for the project and make clear plans for achieving them. This will help you and your team to understand the objective of the project and complete it without any hitches.
To communicate your goals to your team, you need to provide everyone with a creative brief. If you do not know how to write a creative brief, or if you want to learn how to write more effective briefs, keep reading! In this article, we explain how to easily produce a creative, and effective, brief. You will also find a creative brief template that you can use for your own brand campaigns.
What is a creative brief?
A creative brief is a document that defines the goal(s) and processes of a project in more detail. The brief also explains each project member’s role in the overall project’s accomplishment.
Creative briefs, as the name implies, are usually short. They explain the expectations, challenges, proposed solutions, and the ways that creative teams will work together to make the solution a possibility.
Short projects sometimes do not require a creative brief. However, before commencing a brand campaign, a team needs to have a creative brief. In most organizations, creative briefs are standard practice. An agency can’t start working on a project until the creative brief has been presented.
What is the form of a creative brief?
A creative brief form is a questionnaire that stakeholders of a project complete. The form helps gather information from all involved people and presents it in a well-laid-out format that will be used to draft the actual brief.
Creative brief outline – What is included in a creative brief
When preparing a powerful brief for your own team or agency, you should cover the following points:
Background information (company description)
A design creative brief always begins with a short description of your company and brand. This part gives a concise summary of the vision and mission of your company. Explaining your company’s background makes it easier for everyone to understand your goals and motivations.
The next part of your creative brief explains what distinguishes your company from similar brands. You should capitalize on your unique selling proposition (USP) to achieve the goals of your campaign. Harnessing the USP of your brand helps you gain the attention of your target audience and meet desired goals.
After the brand’s description and your USP, you now come to the project’s objectives. What are the goals of the project, and how do you plan to achieve and measure them? Effective creative briefs concisely detail what is expected to be achieved at the end of the project.
The target audience for every campaign varies based on age, gender, location, and needs. Therefore, the brief for a creative campaign should precisely define the target group that you want to address. This information is also important for creating the right content.
Market position and competitors
In the next step, you should describe your market position as well as define your competitors. These can be companies that sell a similar product or target the same audience. Analyzing your competitors can also generate new ideas for your own project.
In this section, you should define what type of content your creative team or agency will be producing for the project. This could include designs, slogans, or a video.
Tone of voice
In your brand guidelines, you might have already defined a tone of voice for your brand – meaning how you intend to communicate with your target audience. In this section of the brief, you explain how the tone of voice should be adapted to this specific project.
Another essential part of the briefing is this section, where you define the budget you are willing to invest for this project. It’s important to keep in mind that the budget should be proportional to the scope of your project. More time and more resources will require more budget.
Timelines and milestones
A project timeline and milestones help guide the creative team as they work to achieve the overall objective of the project. Milestones cover multiple smaller tasks, and timelines show the interdependencies of tasks as well as define when milestones and the entire project should be completed.
This part of a brief lists everyone included in the project and their exact roles. This can include internal team members and also external partners or agency members.
Download a free creative brief checklist
If you start working without a clear brief, it’s like driving with broken headlights at night. Sure, it’s still possible, but you’d have to drive slowly, and chances are high that you’ll veer off the street.
We know that it’s tempting to rush past the creation of creative briefs. Creative teams are usually itching to get started. They don’t want to waste time in the planning stages. But investing time in a good brief protects you from encountering serious problems later on down the road. Believe me, it is an investment that will pay off.
Want to have every important point from our guide on how to write a creative brief at one glance? You can download your free checklist right here:
How to write a creative brief
When designing a creative brief, you don’t want to end up with a large folder full of information. Instead, you need a short and clear guiding document. Try to condense the information to a maximum of one or two pages. Structure it with bullet points for increased readability. Alternatively, you can create a PowerPoint presentation with one topic per slide.
Give background information
Every company and brand has a background story. This background information should be a vital part of the creative brief, regardless of the makeup of the actual team undertaking the project. In this section, share all the background information about your brand and the product or project at hand.
In some cases, the creative tasks being assigned are part of a broader project. In such a situation, the creative brief should contain additional background information about the broader project as well as the current task that needs to be completed. This will help the creative team to understand the bigger picture.
Be clear about the purpose of the brief
Briefs are created with specific goals in mind. For creative briefs, the goal is to ensure that the essence of the project is communicated effectively to the creative team. So, it’s important to include a small section that explains the primary purpose of the creative brief. This will help the team or agency understand the scope of the project and what your company expects from the outcome.
What is your USP/ key message
What is the USP of your company? And based on that, what should be the key message for your project? The unique selling proposition of your campaign is that special feature or benefit that will attract the target audience. It is an offer that is irresistible. Additionally, the USP makes your brand distinct from the competition. It gives the target audience a reason to ditch other brands and prioritize your company.
Find out what interests your audience the most – price, quality, reputation, or other features. Then, harness that interest to create the strongest USP for your campaign.
Define your objectives
How can your team meet your expectations if they don’t know them? The first step of any project should always be the definition of the objectives. Objectives are the fundamental scoresheet that will be used to evaluate the success of the project when it is over.
The results your creative team or agency produces after completing a project should be weighed against the objectives communicated at the beginning. Therefore, the design brief serves to put everyone on the same page in order to avoid conflicts down the road. Ensure that all stakeholders agree with the objectives that are written in the brief before commencing the project.
Describe your target audience
The objectives of the campaign relay expectations, but you and your team or agency will not produce these results by magic. Moreover, you cannot sell the message of the campaign to everyone. You will need to adapt your content for a specific target audience.
To do this, you need to define and describe your target audience in detail. One way this can be done is by creating buyer personas. A buyer persona is a fictional character that represents a member of your ideal target audience.
Describe your market position and competitors
Another section of your creative brief should explain the position of your company or brand in the market. How do customers rate your products or services? While looking at your brand’s position in the market, you also need to assess your competitors – other businesses that offer similar products or services.
This can be done with a SWOT analysis. In a SWOT analysis, you review internal and external factors to define your company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. The result of the analysis will help you figure out the position of your brand in the market.
List all deliverables you need
You hired a creative team (whether in-house or an agency) for a reason. You expect them to complete a project and return certain deliverables to you. It’s easy to assume that they already know what’s expected, but this assumption can create a gap in communication.
When creating a brief, list all of the concrete deliverables you expect the creative team to produce. Be as clear as possible when describing these assets. For instance, you can include a list of deliverables that reads somewhat like this:
“Expected deliverables include a PDF of logo, Vector files for logo, and 3D mock up of brand logo.”
Describe your tone of voice
Think of your brand as a personality. If it were a person, how would they act and speak? How should others, especially your target audience, perceive your brand. What impression do you want to leave in their heads? Try to come up with a few adjectives and attributes that describe your brand.
Define your budget
Budgeting is important. Many managers omit this part because they want to keep the numbers confidential, while others address budgeting too late in the process. However, it’s essential to mention the budget in the creative brief. A budget is closely related to the relevance, scope, and amount of work expected to go into a project.
When setting the budget for a project, consider the scope and skills required to complete the various tasks. Naturally, bigger projects require higher budgets. Plus, projects that require a high level of expertise and specialists often require a higher budget because specialists often charge above-average fees.
Create a timeline with milestones
In this next step, you should propose a timeline with milestones for your creative project. After sharing the brief with the creative team, they can review the timeline and confirm that the tasks and milestones can be completed in the suggested timeframe.
Creators appreciate clients and managers who set realistic deadlines for projects. So, to ensure that you are setting your timeline reasonably, consider the following factors:
- Define single tasks and estimate how long it will take to complete them.
- Identify task dependencies to avoid bottlenecks.
- Bundle similar tasks together into milestones.
- Most projects have a final deadline by when the projects need to be published. Use this deadline to plan backwards and define all other milestones and tasks that way.
Share your brief with important stakeholders
After you have outlined the details of your project, it’s time to share the brief with important stakeholders and collect their feedback. These stakeholders include everyone who has a role to play in the success of the project, whether within your team or outside of your company.
When done via email, sharing the brief and collecting feedback from all stakeholders can be a time-consuming and nerve-wracking task. That’s why you need a review and approval tool like Filestage. With Filestage, you can easily upload your brief and share it with all stakeholders in seconds.
Then, stakeholders can view the file in their browser, leave comments directly on the file, and even discuss changes in the comment section. After the first review round, you can revise the brief and upload the new version. Once a stakeholder is happy they can approve the brief with just one click.
Download our creative brief template
You can download our creative brief template right here:
It’s a PowerPoint file. Each slide contains a major question you need to answer clearly. Furthermore, you’ll find a short explanation within the notes section of each slide that gives you further guidance.
To save an editable copy, follow these simple steps:
- Click “File” in the top-left corner
- Click “Make a copy”
- Choose your destination folder
Feel free to adapt our PowerPoint template to your own needs. Use your own logo or add slides where you want to bring in more details. When you’re done, you can share your creative brief in Filestage with your stakeholders to get feedback and approval.
Why do you need a creative brief?
Some brands believe that a creative brief is unimportant if the managers can effectively communicate important details with the project stakeholders. But if you only communicate verbally, there’s nothing you can refer back to when the objectives of the project are not met and/ or results are unsatisfactory.
Here are a few benefits that a creative brief offers to both you and the creative team:
The creative team/ agency
- A creative brief helps the team to better understand the purpose and objectives of a project.
- It lays out a plan to follow for achieving the goals of the project.
- It helps the team understand the expectations of the client and therefore ensures success.
- With a creative brief, creatives can stay accountable to both themselves and their client.
- It saves time that could be wasted on waiting for corrections or conflicting objectives.
- The creative brief puts everyone on the same page by clearly defining expectations and requirements.
- It serves as a means to communicate the expected results before a project commences.
- A creative brief can be used to measure the success of a project.
- Creative briefs help to define a clear timeline and deadlines for projects.
- The results of a campaign are usually better when a creative brief is used.
Use cases for creative briefs
A creative brief isn’t some huge task you should save only for big projects. A brief is useful for any marketing content you want to produce. You might not have considered using creative briefs for all of your content, but they can help you create anything from webpage copy to video projects.
You might find you need multiple, separate creative briefs – but when it comes to in-house content, you can use a creative brief like a style guide. When you’re producing regular blog articles or video content, your brief will save you time and ensure consistent content.
A creative brief can be used for different purposes, including as a:
- Marketing brief to start your marketing campaigns
- Branding brief to define your brand assessment
- Project brief to kick off your projects
- Strategic brief to plan your next steps
- Event brief to start planning an event
- Logo brief to get started with the design process
- Company brief to share background on the organization
- Videographer brief to prepare a producer
- Team brief to get your team on board
- Media brief to start your media project
3 tips for creating a creative brief
Knowing what should be in a creative brief is not enough to craft an effective one. Here are three tips that will help you draft useful briefs.
Be clear about what you aim to achieve at the end of the campaign. Use figures and statements to measure the project result. Establish the tone which you want to use to communicate with your target audience. Knowing what you want is indeed the first step in achieving it.
Keep it short
This is a brief after all, not a novel or a dictionary. Stick to the name, and be concise. Your brief cannot be effective if people cannot skim through and understand the background and objectives of the project. Mention the strategy you will use to complete the campaign but do not go into too much detail. Each paragraph of the brief should tackle one feature concisely.
After writing a creative brief, it is normal to wonder if the brief is clear enough and effective. Even Fortune-500 companies face this problem, but platforms like Filestage help you get feedback and approvals on your briefs from key stakeholders quickly and easily.
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Five other creative brief templates
Rather than creating a creative brief process from scratch, save time by starting with a template. Customizing a template allows you to create a more professional look for your creative brief, and it also provides you with quality-tested questions.
Creative brief template advertising by Milanote
Milanote offers a slick user-friendly design to help you organize all the elements of a creative brief. It allows you to create private templates with various boards and hierarchies for different levels within your team. You can collect all of your requirements in one secure place which helps to speed up tasks and keep everyone in your team updated.
Marketing creative brief template by 99 Designs
This creative brief from 99 Designs helps you to plan for the various elements of your needs, from color palettes to the style of your business. 99 Designs provides another simple template that won’t take long to complete and that you will find massively helpful in the long run.
Creative brief template by Smartsheet
The Smartsheet template for a creative brief allows you to list everything included in a design brief while maintaining simplicity. This template can be used for different kinds of projects while remaining effective and conveying relevance. Plus, the template is not restrictive, so you can take advantage of that feature to be more detailed when writing the brief.
Creative agency brief template by Hubspot
This template from Hubspot aims to keep your team motivated with an attractive creative brief. If you’re looking for something to inspire your creative team while helping them to understand the project, then the Hubspot template is a great choice.
Logo creative brief template by Your Creative Junkie
Although this template has been designed with a specific goal in mind, it’s actually a really useful tool for any creative brief. This brief has various sections so you can really get to grips with your needs. Moreover, it has an attractive design but is still a simple text template, so anyone can use it. A logo brief template is definitely a useful tool for creative projects.
Four creative brief examples
Still not clear on how to make your own top-of-the-line creative brief?
Don’t worry; we’ve put together a selection of industry best practice creative briefs to help you!
PayPal creative brief example
Paypal’s creative brief has a really nice design and flow to it. It’s clearly in line with their style and content. It’s also not too busy, so you can scan the text quickly to remind yourself of the most important information.
Reebok creative brief example
This simple design highlights the important messages in the creative brief. You might also find bullet-pointed lists useful for quickly conveying key information. Keep your design brief and scannable with lists and sections like these.
Red Bull creative brief example
Red Bull has got this brief right by providing a short introduction to the company and then diving straight into the objectives of the project.
Something about this brief template from Doritos is different from the others. It does not have a creative design like the other ones. Instead, it is short and straight to the point. The brief focuses on the primary benefit of the project to the target audience.
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Writing good briefs can be time-consuming when you start from scratch. That’s why you should download our template and checklist to save time and create even better briefs. Although briefs can require participation from every project stakeholder, they are still worth every bit of effort in the long run.
And if you need to get fast and precise feedback on your briefs (or any other assets), you can share them with Filestage. On the centralized platform, stakeholders can leave comments and collaborate on files in real-time, helping you meet all your deadlines.