For most agencies, nailing a client project is a team effort. For every department involved, delivering on goal and on budget requires fully understanding the project assignment from all angles before getting started. This is why having a creative brief is essential.

Creative briefs are a tool that agencies use to guide projects from the initial kickoff. They outline the fundamentals of what’s driving the project, what will measure success, and so much more. They are the project’s compass, so if they aren’t put together well, then the entire project will suffer, and you could have a client retention problem on your hands.

If you’re having trouble putting together your creative briefs, or if you’re an agency that currently uses a different method and are interested in switching to creative briefs, then you’ve come to the right place.

Let’s dive into everything regarding writing effective creative briefs. Ready?

What is a Creative Brief?

A creative brief is a short yet comprehensive document that outlines the goals, purpose, messaging, requirements, and other key details for an advertising, marketing, or design project.

Think of it as a roadmap that tells the creative team what they need to do to arrive at the desired destination. It seeks to answer questions about a creative project such as:

  • What will the project look like when it’s done?
  • Who is the target audience?
  • What “argument” is the project going to address?
  • What are the supporting points?
  • Why is the project needed?
  • When is the project due?
  • How and where will the project be published?

Besides explaining the project’s objective, a creative brief describes the innovative approach to achieve it. A good brief also serves as a springboard for ideas, helping your teams unlock their full creative power to make the client’s project a success.

What are They Used For?

Creative briefs are standard tools in advertising and marketing campaigns. Besides providing a sound understanding of the project objective and requirements, they:

  • Put the agency, client, and creatives on the same page.
  • Create a starting point for teams to brainstorm ideas.
  • Eliminate last-minute changes, conflicting objectives, and misunderstanding, which can delay the project, causing you to lose valuable time and money.
  • Maintain accountability and communication, which goes a long way towards making the whole process smoother and more efficient.
  • Provide a quick overview of the brand and its background, making it easier for the creative team to deliver high-quality projects.
  • Align the client’s expectations (and budget) with your creative media plan.

What are the Main Components of an Effective Creative Brief?

On average, 33% of the marketing budget is wasted on poorly crafted creative briefs. To sidestep that pitfall, you should ensure your clients provide as much information as possible for each of the following sections.

Company Background

This portion may not be needed for every brief. Look at including it on a case-by-case basis, or at least for the first brief you put together for a new client.

Make sure the client provides context and background information about their company or product. What are the company’s specific values? Is it mission-driven? The client should provide all the information your creative teams need to understand the brand better.

Project Description

A brief but detailed description of the assigned project. The client should provide as much information as possible to help your team understand what the project entails. What’s the challenge, opportunity, or need?

Project Objective

This is a description of the “why” of the project. It’s arguably the most important part of the brief, and you should iron it out with the client at the onset.

What does the client hope to achieve with the project? How will you measure success? For example, if you are designing a Facebook video ad, you might measure success by the number of impressions or leads.

When the creative asset is designed with the goal top of mind, the chances of success improve significantly.

Target Audience

Who are you trying to reach with this campaign or project? The client should provide demographic information and behavioral insights about the target audience. These details help the creative team develop a design and content strategy that appeal to the audience your client is trying to reach.

Main Message

What message do you want to hammer home? This message should nudge the target audience towards making the call to action, and the messaging should align with the brand’s strategic positioning and objectives. Besides that, it should also reflect the client’s voice, tone, and style.

What is Needed to Write an Effective Creative Brief?

Ideally, the client’s representative or the assigned account manager should meet together to fill out the creative brief. The idea is to get as much detailed information as needed for each of the sections mentioned above. Some of the materials that streamline the process include:

  • Client’s project research
  • Description of audience persona
  • Previous marketing materials
  • Competitor information

Keep in mind that not all creative briefs are created equal, and while the elements discussed above are essential, you could add other sections that make the process easier for your team. As you write more briefs, working with your clients and your creative team, you’ll nail down a formula that works for you — but this should be enough to get you started!