How to Write an Effective Creative Brief [+Free Template]
A pocket guide on the benefits of using a creative brief, how to plan your own, and what questions to include.
The creative brief is a project management document that outlines the creative project’s strategy. It’s an essential part of the communication between the creative team and all stakeholders that contains crucial details such as:
- Project background: This includes the client’s business background and why the business is launching the campaign.
- Project objective: Identifying the challenges and focusing on the goals and objectives of the project.
- Target audience: Defining the audience that will engage with and benefit from the campaign. This includes demographics, behavior, geographics, and psychographics.
- Message: The voice and messaging of the brand.
- Deliverables: What the creative team needs to deliver in terms of vision, functionality, requirements; and in what form.
- Logistical details: Scope, budget, time frame.
Creative briefs usually follow the same layout. However, some require more planning depending on the project complexity. This is why this blog post will look at how to plan a creative brief, what questions to include, and give you a pre-made creative brief template you can download for free.
Table of Contents
How do Projects Benefit from a Creative Brief?
The first thing you do when you take a new project is to learn its goal and purpose, as well as your client’s expectations for the final result. Creative briefs make it easier for all parties to communicate their vision and ideas and keep them on track throughout the process.
In contrast, not having a creative brief can increase the risk of mixing strategies, and more back-and-forth emails or meetings, information silos, and everything that can occur due to the lack of defining and planning the project from the beginning.
The key benefits of a well-written creative brief include:
- Less time completing the project: Communicating the expectations in detail and planning the creative process from the very beginning of the project eliminates a vast portion of revisions.
- Less approval time: Having the specific requirements and goals clarified can save the project from going in the wrong direction. Often ambiguous project requirements and poor planning lead to significant misunderstandings in the final phases.
- Clear criteria for success: A well-planned creative brief can give the exact measure of success, for example, rates, views, and other analytics. This increases the chances for the creative team to deliver an on-point final product that meets all expectations.
- Trust: Clear criteria give the creative team the responsibility, freedom, and trust, as well as save time by anticipating and resolving potential problems and issues before they even begin.
Whose Responsibility is the Creative Brief?
The client has the most knowledge of what the end product should be like and what goals it should accomplish, so they certainly have the option to write the creative brief before handing the project to a creative team. In many cases, when you work with a client, they will hand you an already filled-in creative brief to familiarize your team with the task ahead.
Even so, that role usually goes to the manager or leader of the creative team. Their expertise allows them to ask the right questions, get the crucial information and help the client outline the vision and requirements.
What Should be in a Creative Brief?
The creative brief summarizes and outlines the agreed purpose, function, and goal for the project and should give you the answers to the following questions:
- Who is the project for?
- What do we (the creative team) need to do?
- Where and how will be the final product used?
- What is the timeframe of the project?
- How are we going to do it?
In terms of the structure itself, most creative briefs follow a similar background that includes 9 key elements. All these elements tend to collect the necessary data needed to give answers to the above questions.
When writing a creative brief of any kind, it’s natural to start with the project details such as project name, time frame, delivery date, project manager name, client, etc.
- Campaign name
- Delivery date
- Project manager
- Client name
The next section of questions serves to gather the brand’s mission, previous project, and circumstances that lead to the development of the project.
- Why are you choosing to launch this particular campaign at this particular moment?
- How will this campaign respond to the current state of the market?
- What sets you apart from your competitors?
Time to get more specific. After gathering enough information on the brand’s mission and its goal in the current state of the market, your next questions will help you learn why the project needs to happen. This includes the problem, major challenges, goals, and objectives. It will help you understand what are the client’s expectations and what will a successful project look like.
- What problem are we solving for the company?
- How are we solving it?
- How does the project benefit the company?
Every project targets specific audience segmentation that will benefit from the final product. You can ask the client company’s marketing team for the audience’s demographics, geographics, psychographics, and behaviors. Many creative agencies use the format of a buyer persona.
- Who are your ideal customers?
- What is the primary audience?
- Is there a secondary target audience?
Since your team will develop creative assets, this part of your brief should describe what those assets and deliverables are. Depending on the assets, ask for specifics such as formats, dimensions, number of versions, design elements, etc.
- What are the deliverables for the project?
This section might seem like the most complex one to develop, however, in reality, it only focuses on one basic concept: why should the target audience pay attention to the client’s campaign? This sums up everything from the audience’s pain points and experience with the pain point, to the company’s solution to the issue and the benefits of that solution. Here are some example questions you could ask in this segment of the creative brief:
- What are your brand values?
- How would you like your audience to feel about your campaign?
- What is the key consumer benefit? (KCB)
- What problem does your campaign solve for the target audience?
- Why does your audience need the solution your campaign is selling?
Projects, especially bigger ones, often require team collaboration, where several individuals from different teams work together. For example, when two creative agencies work on the same project for an end client: the marketing team and the design team from the first agency may have to team up with the developing team from the second. In short, this section serves to identify everyone involved from all parties.
In this case, simply create a list of the stakeholders:
- Project manager
- Creative team
- Marketing team
- Design team
- Front-end team
Free Creative Brief Template
You can now use these questions to build your creative brief and share it with your clients via Google Docs or send aPDF. Or, you can skip all the work and simply download the free creative brief questionnaire we prepared for you in a 2-page interactive PDF.
- 12 Questions and Project Details
- Format: Layered PDF, Interactive
- Number of Pages: 3 (Cover + 2-pages Questionnaire)
FAQ About Creative Briefs
👉 What is a creative brief?
The creative brief is a project management document that summarizes the strategy of a creative project. It’s a part of the communication between the creative team and all stakeholders and it usually includes the following elements:
- Project background: The client’s business background and the reason behind the launching of the campaign.
- Project objective: The problem, major challenges, goals, and objectives.
- Target audience: The audience that will engage with and benefit from the campaign.
- Message: The key message of the campaign; what pain points it addresses and how it solves them.
- Deliverables: What the creative team needs to deliver in terms of vision, functionality, and, requirements; and in what form.
- Logistical details: Scope, budget, time frame.
👉 Who is the creative brief made for?
An effective creative brief is written for both the client and the creative user. It lets the end-user know what they’re getting, when and in what form. At the same time, it gives a roadmap, structure, and inspiration for the creative team, as well as the challenges that they will face to produce valuable results.
👉 When should you produce a creative brief?
Creative briefs serve to put everyone on the starting line from the very beginning. In many cases, the clients are looking for the most suitable creative agency to handle their projects based on many factors from timeline and budget, to the type of work the team can handle, their experience with this particular type of work, their style, and way of thinking. This is why the best time to establish the creative brief is at the onset of the project. Early planning also benefits the creative team by giving them full consultation on the challenges, expectations, and even a full roadmap.
A well-written creative brief can help all parties to communicate their vision, and ideas, and keep them on track throughout the process. It is an important step to define and plan the project from the very beginning and ultimately eliminates the risk of mixing strategies, having more back-and-forth emails or meetings, information silos, and other miscommunication issues.
You can now use these questions to build your creative brief and share it with your future clients via online form tools, Google Docs, or PDF. Or, you can also download the free template we prepared for you and make the desired adjustments.
In the meantime, you can visit some of the related articles for some more insights, and inspiration, or grab a freebie: