The 7 elements you must include in an effective creative brief (with examples)
Writing an effective creative brief is about more than just jotting down a couple of generic lines on an otherwise blank doc.
After all, if you’re investing time and money into (what you hope it to be) a well-executed marketing campaign, you want to make sure you’re taking the proper steps to ensure success.
A creative brief creates team alignment on projects, reduces roadblocks and bottlenecks that can make a project go astray, and ensures the creative team or agency knows exactly what you want them to do.
But as anyone who's ever tried to write a creative brief from scratch can tell you, it isn't always straightforward.
Below, we'll look at how to write a creative brief and what elements to include (with examples) to nail your next campaign. But first, let's answer a very burning question:
What is a creative brief?
The core strategic document that is meant to guide the creative team on the preparation of the advertising execution.Forbes
Simply put, a creative brief is a one-page doc outlining the strategy for a creative project. The marketing team generally writes the brief for the creative team (or agency). The aim of the brief is to help creatives understand the project, the target audience, deliverables, tone of voice, timelines, and budget.
Always keep in mind that the people who’ll use the brief are your creative team. That's why you should write the brief in a way that's accessible to a designer or developer—this means no jargon, zero fluff, and no "marketer-speak".
The first rule to writing an effective creative brief is to write it in a language everyone involved can understand. The brief below—created by Beloved Brands to illustrate the elements of a good brief—provides an excellent example.
What are the elements of a good creative brief?
1. Include your company's background
Outlining your company's background is particularly important when briefing an external agency. You'll want to make sure they know the values that drive your business and your mission statement. But you also want them to get a good grasp of the products and services you offer—as well as why they are (or should be) important to your customers.
Be transparent and make sure you include links to your website and any other marketing collateral you have produced in the past to help the creatives understand your brand identity and recreate it effectively.
Check out the background section Red Bull used in their creative brief to get an idea.
2. Summarize the project
Use this section to help creatives understand your expectations in terms of deliverables. You must explain in this section what assets will be necessary to fuel your campaign and how each of them will contribute to the final result.
You might request a 30-second commercial to help raise brand awareness of a new product launch, a batch of various banners to drive organic traffic, and a guide or two for email capture. Be specific and include details such as file formats you need (i.e., JPG, PNG, PSD) or size information (i.e., 300×250 pixels).
Don't forget to share with your creatives (or external agency) how your request fits into the broader landscape of your company's marketing strategy or a specific integrated marketing program.
In the brief developed by Beloved Brands (the sample one we saw above), check out how the request includes not just deliverables, but also ideas on how to repurpose the content on different channels, media, and touchpoints.
3. Identify your target audience
For the creative team to nail your request, it is essential that you share your deep understanding of your target audience with them. A generic description such as "housewives,” "busy people,” or "CMOs" may seem self-explanatory to you, but you then run the risk of misinterpretation. The clearer you are here, the more likely the finished product will meet your expectations.
Make sure your brief contains all the details from your market research about your target audience and personas' behaviors, desires, and pain points if you want your creatives to execute effectively.
Check out how footwear manufacturer Reebok went above and beyond trying to describe the target audience for their current campaign in their brief.
4. State your objectives
So you've already briefed your creatives about the assets you'll need to run your campaign. In this section, you can let them know about your campaign goals—whether you are hoping to reach new customers, paving the way for a rebranding, or appealing to a new demographic. By letting your creatives know your desired outcomes, you will empower them to iterate and plan the most effective execution.
Always include the campaign's mission statement and make it easy to spot within the brief. It will provide a concise and practical definition of your overall needs and wants—while safeguarding your brand image.
And brand image was exactly what sportswear giant Nike was trying to safeguard when the brief below was created.
5. Define your competition
While this section is not strictly necessary, it can be a real game-changer. By including an overview of the competitive landscape you operate in and the trends impacting your industry, you'll enable your creatives to help position you effectively in the market.
If you have direct competitors, include what they're doing as a point of comparison. Define your competing companies, their products or campaigns, and identify the elements that make your company stand out.
6. Tone, message, and style
The style and tone of voice must always be consistent with your brand, but some elements are context- or campaign-specific.
If you're requesting a landing page as part of a contest marketing strategy, you’ll want the messaging and design to be lively enough to inspire people to take part. On the other hand, if you're developing a guide for CEOs and directors in the insurance industry, you'll probably instruct your creatives to use a formal and professional tone.
If your company uses brand guidelines, make sure you include them in your brief along with examples of past campaigns and any other factor or requirement that might affect the creative direction.
7. The final details
Sprinkle your brief with details such as deadlines (always anticipate the need for some leeway), budget (keep in mind that your expectations might not align realistically with your budget), and contact details of stakeholders who'll be involved in the review process.
When working together, marketing and creative teams both benefit from technology designed to improve communication and simplify workflows. At Bynder, we make your life easier with creative automation tools—which helps teams deliver high-quality content at scale—and digital asset management to make storing, managing, and distributing assets an easy, attainable task.
Click below and ask one of our experts to tell you more about how our products and modules can help your company deliver creative assets and campaigns that keep your consumers coming back for more.