A creative brief is a short but comprehensive document used by creative agencies and professionals, which outlines the strategies to be followed in delivering a creative project. You can look at it as a blueprint that informs the entire process and delivery of a creative campaign, such as app development, web design, graphic design, or copy advertising.
A creative brief usually contains the project background, target audience, campaign objectives, among other essential variables. The document is often developed at the beginning of a project.
The following is a comprehensive guide into everything there is to know about a creative brief.
Who Develops The Creative Brief?
A creative brief is normally developed by the requester. The requester is typically a marketing team member from a company’s marketing department.
After development, the document is then handed over to a creative team that implements it in line with the requester’s expectations. Depending on the nature of the project, the creative team may consist of one or more of the following – writers, designers, programmers, and project managers.
In large companies, multiple departments may get involved at various stages of the creative brief making and implementation process.
For instance, the marketing team may focus on gathering customer data, analyzing competition, and crafting a robust media strategy. The creative team would be charged with analyzing the viability of the client’s expectations and brainstorming ideas to implement in actualizing the client’s visions. After engaging the marketing and creative teams, the accounts team may now come in and help in analyzing the financial implications of implementing the blueprint.
It’s normally after the accounts department approves the implementation budget that the brief is considered officially accepted for proper implementation. In some cases, the document may require prior approval by a creative director before official work can commence on it.
Another fact worth noting is that creative briefs are commonly used in a range of creative disciplines. Examples include app development, web design, graphic design, coding and programming, industrial design, copy advertising, architecture, and interior decoration.
Who Is The Creative Brief Developed For?
Surprisingly, the end-user of a creative brief is never the client. Rather, it’s the creative team.
The creative team receives the blueprint from the requester. The team then undertakes all the necessary steps required in implementing the document to the requester’s satisfaction.
However, the creative team will need approval from the client before they can commence work on the document.
Why Have A Creative Brief?
The creative brief development process can be a time- and resource-intensive affair. However, coming up with a compelling document that captures the ins and outs of your creative campaigns is worth the time and effort.
The primary benefit of crafting a creative brief is that the document is standard agency practice. Any professional client would require a creative blueprint before signing off on a project. Similarly, your creative team will expect it before they can begin working.
The following are other top benefits of crafting a compelling creative brief;
a) A Creative Brief Defines Your Brand
It doesn’t matter whether you’re a startup or established venture, a creative brief can offer a perfect avenue for defining your brand. Most importantly, the brief explicitly outlines how the project you’re undertaking will perpetuate and boost your brand.
Since the intention is to strengthen a new brand or revamp an existing one, it’s important to ensure that every aspect of a creative brief reaffirms the brand’s mission and vision. So, the fonts, colors, graphics, language, and content in the document must all be aligned with your company’s expectations.
Generally, a creative brief should capture your brand’s aspirations in a few sentences. To make that possible, the blueprint is typically crafted in a story-telling style where all components throughout the document participate in telling the story.
b) A Creative Brief Identifies Your Audience
A creative brief must also identify your target audience.
The brief must first conduct intensive research to establish what your audience is looking for. This research is typically conducted using digital data analysis or through focus groups.
The document should then analyze the viability of your products or services in satisfying the needs and wants of your target audience.
Lastly, the blueprint should highlight the actual steps you intend to take to tap into your audience. For instance, a target audience made up of tweens and millennials is best accessed through social networking platforms like Facebook and Instagram.
c) A Creative Brief Aligns Everyone’s Interests
Conflicts of interest are bound to occur when preparing to launch a creative campaign. That’s especially true for large companies where multiple departments may be handling the same document. Therefore, it’s important to ensure everyone is on the same page.
To do that, you’ll need to lay the ground rules before assigning roles to different departments. For instance, ensure everyone understands the specific fonts, characters, graphics, etc., to use in the document.
It’s also necessary to adopt a common communication strategy across all platforms. And the messaging platforms you choose should resonate with your target audience.
Ideally, messaging should relay what you offer and include a call-to-action link that your prospective clients can click to take specific actions.
d) A Creative Brief Anticipates Issues
It’s natural to face obstacles during the project implementation stages of a creative campaign. But how effectively you deal with these challenges depends on whether you anticipated them or not.
A creative brief allows you to anticipate otherwise unforeseen problems even before you can start implementing the document.
You can then assign the necessary human or financial resources to deal with the challenges when they eventually present themselves. Better yet, you can make certain adjustments that allow you to avoid facing those challenges altogether.
e) A Creative Brief Saves You Time and Money
Sometimes, you may need an extra pair of hands in crafting a compelling creative brief. Outsourcing the creative team may set you back some thousands of dollars. Not to mention, it’s usually a long and arduous undertaking.
However, a creative brief is time- and cost-effective in the long run. If well-thought-out and meticulously executed, the blueprint can serve your company for years without needing major adjustments or modifications.
Another way a creative brief saves you money is by clearly highlighting your performance indicators. You can then monitor the project’s viability against these metrics to identify any areas that need modifying.
The fact that the actual design process incorporates various stakeholders ensures the final output is exactly what the client envisaged. This saves the time you’d have otherwise invested ironing out misunderstandings and conflicting objectives.
Plus, you can undertake numerous tweaks on a creative brief without fundamentally impacting its letter and spirit.
Elements of a Creative Brief
A creative brief should interpret the client’s visions to the creative team in a clear and concise manner. Therefore, the document should be free from jargon, fluff, or unnecessary diversions.
Also, the document shouldn’t purport to offer definite solutions to the client’s problems. Rather, it should serve as a starting point from where the creative team gets their inspiration.
Another essential element is the medium in which the final output is stored. There’s no shortage of file formats you can choose, ranging from Word Document to PDF, Google Docs, Google Presentation, and PowerPoint Presentation. Just ensure you select a file format to be used across all the other departments.
It’s also necessary to have a template to use each time. However, note that the template may require major changes depending on the specific project you’re working on.
The following are other crucial elements of a creative brief;
i. Company Description
It’s recommended to provide background information about your company. Highlight what products or services you offer, as well as links to your website where applicable.
This information will give the creative team insights into your business. They can then craft a blueprint that captures your brand’s needs and aspirations.
ii. Project Summary
Your creative project should be summarized in a few sentences. The summary should typically include what the project is all about and why you need the brief.
iii. Outline of Objectives
This is considered the most important aspect of a creative brief. You’ll need to spell out your objectives clearly to help the creative team brainstorm suitable ideas to implement in achieving your project’s goals.
Indicate what you’re aiming to achieve and any problems you intend to solve. Also, outline your preferred performance indicators.
iv. Description of Target Audience
A creative brief should define the nature of your customer. Indicate who you’re trying to reach with the campaign.
If possible, share specific demographic information about them, such as their age, gender, geographical location, and internet savviness.
v. Description of Competition
As you identify your target audience, it’s also necessary to understand your competitors.
For better insights into your competitors, you may need to study their marketing strategies as well as understand emerging trends in your niche.
vi. Definition of Timelines and Budget
You obviously want your creative brief to be handled before a specified date. So, ensure you provide the timelines. Most importantly, settle on a mutual deadline with the team before they can commence any work on the project.
You’ll also need to spell out your budget. Ideally, the creative team must be in agreement with your proposed project before commencing with the work.
vii. Outline of Deliverables
In this section, you’ll need to spell out how you need the final output to be. For instance, do you require a one-page advertisement material or a batch of 20 logo designs?
You’ll also need to indicate your preferred file format, file size, and ways to share the final output. Don’t forget details on the fonts, colors, graphics, tone, style, and message.
Lastly, specify any individuals or departments that will collaborate on the project, such as reviewers. And if possible, include their contact information.
A creative brief is a fundamental requirement when preparing to launch a creative campaign. The best thing about this document is that it isn’t cast in stone. You can tweak it continually to accommodate the changing needs of your business.