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  • Does my marketing project need a creative brief?
  • What are the elements of a strong creative brief?
  • How do I write a creative brief?

Imagine that Frank has a business called Fromage by Frank that express-ship fine cheeses from France.

Cheese aficionados love his business, but Frank needs a wider customer base to be successful. So he hires a designer-and-copywriter creative team to create an “eye-catching online ad” that he’ll run on popular food blogs.

The creative team takes a lot longer than Frank had hoped to come up with a concept. And when they finally show their “edgy” idea, it involves a beret-wearing mouse blowing up a wheel of cheese in slow motion.

Is that ad concept eye-catching? Yes. Does it fit Fromage by Frank’s brand, help Frank achieve his business goals, and appeal to his target audience? No, no, and no. so where did Frank go wrong?

Frank did a good job making his instructions to the creative team short and sweet, but he only communicated that he wanted an eye-catching ad and that’s it. Before hiring the designer and copywriter, he should have taken the time to write a creative brief.

No matter what your marketing initiative campaign is – site redesign, branding, online ads, etc. writing a creative brief is a smart idea.

It’s a simple document that acts as a roadmap for your creative agency or team. It shows creative the right ways to navigate your marketing project and lets them know what goals you want to reach.

A well-written creative brief makes sure the creative understand the project’s background and your vision. It should also be…well, brie. It’s am an outline, not an essay or a brand book.

To write a good creative brief, you should do some prep work first. Start by defining the problem you’re trying to solve clearly, and then gather any research or data that can help you frame your problem in cold, hard facts.

After you’ve clearly identified and framed the problem and set a goal, it’s time to write your creative brief.

The brief should include the problem, objectives or goals, who the target audience is, what action you want your audience to take, your key selling points, the creative mandatories, and approval deadlines. Let’s break down one that Frank made.

First, Frank explains the need for this marketing in 60 words or less. Then, he describes his business’s current position and the problem he wants to address, also in 60 words or less.

Next, come 3 short sections, each 40 words or less: info on his target audience (where they live, what they believe, etc.), the central message to communicate (AKA the key takeaway), and the work’s exact objectives.

He then lists the types of media and key deliverables. He also details any rules like style guides, legal issues, or design and copy do’s and don’ts, along with other considerations. Lastly, there’s a project schedule.

Example of Creative brief:

  • Target Audience Casual Foodies: Late 30’s to early 40’s, living in a major metropolitan area, $60k+ salary/yr. They like finding and sharing new food experiences. Their knowledge of cheese is limited to the “expensive stuff” in grocery stores.
  • Key Takeaway Message: Every FBF cheese has a story to tell. Our ads need to focus on our cheesemakers’ lives instead of the transactional nature of our business.
  • Objectives
    • Build awareness among foodies through compelling narratives.
    • Boost brand value by communicating the “shareable” story behind each cheese.
    • Increase online orders 65% by driving to FromagebyFrank .com.
  • Media Placement Online ads running on 5 major food blogs.
  • Deliverables 3 Rich Media Ads (300×250, 728×90, 160×600) and landing page.
  • Creative Budget $150k
  • Character/Style/Tone Tone is sophisticated, sincere, and refined.
  • Considerations We’d like to feature these cheesemakers – Pierre and his miniature goats, Antoine and his royal lineage, sisters Lea and Marianne.
  • Timing/Schedule
    • 1st round of concepts: August 17
    • Revised concepts: August 21
    • Final designs: August 26
    • Launch: August 28 Approvals:
    • Frank’s assistant will approve the first 2 rounds.
    • Final sign off on finished execution by Frank.

So let’s say you’ve written a nice, short creative brief. What happens if you have more information (like brand guidelines) you need to give to the creatives?

No matter how tempting it is to add that background material into your brief, keep it separate. Your brief should always be a quick, straightforward way for creatives to find the project mandatories only.

For brand guidelines, create a separate presentation or document (like the brand book we mentioned earlier). The same goes for other information you think is relevant to the project, like a deeper analysis of your target audience.

Things should know:

  • What type of media you’ll use
  • Marketing solution for the problem
  • facts/statistics about the problem
  • A business problem I want to be solved
  • Brand and style guides, do’s and don’ts
  • Planned marketing campaign launch date
  • My budget
  • My key marketing message
  • My marketing goals/objectives
  • My target audience

References: Google Webmasters, Think With Google, Google Primer

Mohammad Rahighi

Mohammad Rahighi

Designer and Project Manager who loves crafting big ideas and is passionate about designing meaningful experiences that can influence positive change and help make the world a better place.

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