You've formulated your campaign strategy, hired the best creative talent and are ready to bring your vision to life. You start tomorrow and feel the butterflies in your stomach fluttering.
That's when it hits you: How do you make sure everyone is on the same page?
The solution lies in writing a creative brief.
This overlooked, yet essential document is your roadmap or gameplan to success! It communicates your goals, strategies and expectations right from the start, giving everyone clarity and a common understanding of your project.
What is a Creative Brief?
A creative brief is a document that clearly outlines your brand's goals, objectives, demographics, and project timeline. It's the single source of truth for your project, and a reference point for further clarification and discussions. When different team members work simultaneously, it prevents any conflicts or miscommunications between all parties.
This document helps guide the creation of any kind of creative work, from advertising campaigns and TV spots to illustrations and website designs. Because the creative brief acts as a framework, it's typically written by the creative project manager, planner, account executive, creative director, strategist or producer.
But to write an effective creative brief, there is no one-size-fits all approach. We'll show you how to write a winning creative brief that will set your team up for success and inspire them to produce their best work yet!
How to Write a Creative Brief to Maximise Your Campaigns Success
Writing effective creative briefs aren't overly difficult, but it's far from easy. You may have the vision, but without market research, you'll have a brief that's scattered in ideas. This interferes with your team's creative process and blocks them from delivering the desired results.
The key to crafting the perfect creative is to break it down piece by piece. Here's a checklist of the essential components you should include:
Come Up with a Project name
While you could name your project after your brand, it doesn’t work if you’re working on multiple creative projects. Come up with something catchy and memorable, and more importantly, use a name that accurately reflects the project. If your campaign centres around a product launch, it's going to be a little different than one that's already established in the market.
Here are a few creative brief examples you can play around with:
Project Ignite: For a campaign focused on getting people excited about an upcoming product launch.
Project Revamp: For a project focusing on a product’s resurgence that’s starting to fizzle out.
Project Connect: For a social media campaign that intends to connect your target audience with your brand.
Or, you could have a longer project name that's focuses more on the brand itself:
The same pleasure with only half the guilt: For a Brand's Low-Calorie Snack Range.
Get Beautiful, Smooth Skin without the hassle: X Brand's 5-minute Skincare Range.
These names focus on the actual brand rather than the campaign itself, so it's an approach you could consider. All in all, choose one that’s concise and clear, so the creative team has a good understanding of where to start.
Write a Description of Your Brand and Its Background
Every company has a unique background that's shaped its current status. If you're handling multiple clients and campaigns simultaneously with similar target audiences, adding this information helps the creative team to differentiate between them.
A company's background should be tailored to the project's goal, and briefly go over what led to the project in the first place. When writing one consider the following:
- What makes this campaign unique?
- Why are you doing the campaign?
- What is the current landscape like and how will your campaign fit into it?
Highlight the Project Objective
This is where we get to the nitty gritty, the project objective. This is the main goal of your campaign, explaining your project's goal, timeline and who they're targeting. However, it should still be easy to understand for your creative teams.
Besides just conveying specific details, it needs to emphasise why the project exists in the first place. By creating a sense of urgency and purpose, you let the creative team know what's expected of them.
Here’s an creative brief example for a skincare company targeting women over 45:
"Our skincare brand’s mission is to provide safe and effective products for mature women. With the current market being saturated with youth-focused products, our refreshing approach to skincare aims to help women embrace ageing and continue to look and feel beautiful."
Alternatively, you can incorporate a problem and solution into your project objective, providing two sections to your brief. Let’s use the same skincare company as an example:
There's a misconception that our brand is only for young women and we're not doing not enough to reach out to our target audience of mature women.
Slowly but surely create a shift in consumer perception, delivering the message that our products are for women of all ages, helping them to embrace ageing and feel beautiful.
Define Your Target Audience
Whether you're running a marketing campaign or creating a new product, you have to know your target audience. This is the segment of people that will use your product or service regularly.
If you don't know your target audience, using online tools like Facebook Ads Manager can help you dig further into the data. You’ll gain a more granular understanding of your customer base, which can enhance your campaign. However, you can also include a secondary targeted audience if needed.
Once you've identified your target audience, include relevant details about them. This can include:
- Demographics - Consumer information like their age, gender, location, and income.
- Behaviours - Purchase history, online and offline activity, and the channels they use to find out about more information.
- Psychographics - What is the general consensus on products like yours? How do they generally view your type of products?
- Geographics - find out where your potential consumers live and what could impact their purchasing decisions i.e climate, local economy, culture etc.
The more specific you are about your target audience the better. Remember your designers, social media marketers, copywriters etc can only work with the information they have. You don’t want a misalignment between who you're trying to reach and the material created for them.
Offer Unique Consumer Insights
Data without insights is just that, data.
It's on you to identify trends among the collected data, using it to create meaningful insights. Once you've acquired your market research data above i.e demographics, behaviours, etc, provide unique insights about the target audience that you can use to shape your creative project.
For our example, let's talk about selling an online course. According to the data, their target audience is single mums between 24 and 32 years old living in urban areas. Here could be some insights:
'Our target audience are busy single mothers juggling work and childcare. Therefore, our online courses must be available 24/7, user-friendly, and accessible on all devices."
Understand Your Competitors
The competitive landscape is often as nuisance as the consumers you're trying to reach.
Are you competing against the top players in the industry or smaller niche brands? Either way, you must research who your competition is.
Besides knowing they merely exist, they act (especially to newer companies) as a performance benchmark and inspiration for future ideas. You can analyse their campaigns, and see what you could improve. Simply use this information to surpass their campaign strategy.
Include at least 5 direct competitors and list what your company does in comparison to them. This could include pricing, customer service and overall product features. You can also list similar project campaigns that have failed or succeeded and what your company can learn from them.
Explain Your Key Message
Your key message is essentially your brand's core value proposition.
It's the primary reason why consumers should stop in their tracks and take notice of your product.
For our skincare example, the main message is that 'ageing isn't something to fear' - it's something that can be celebrated! Your consumers shouldn't resort to intrusive solutions like plastic surgery to change their appearance. Instead, they should focus on simply enhancing what they have to look fantastic for their age.
For your key message, include the pain point or problem and how they'll benefit from using your service or product. Put yourself in their shoes and think what would make them stop and pay attention, then craft your key message. Your consumers need to take the spotlight here, not your company.
List your Distribution Channels
Your distribution channels are primarily determined on who you're reaching. If you're targeting established businesses, LinkedIn could be at the top of your list. You'll also consider other digital and traditional channels that your target audience uses, such as Facebook, Twitter, television, radio, email and Pinterest.
Don't drain your resources by promoting your content with a platform they don't use or know.
Include Your Metrics for Success
KPIs are the backbone of any successful campaign. Without them, you cannot truly evaluate how well you're performing compared to your competitors as you have no metric to measure against.
Possible KPIs can include:
- Number of clicks vs impressions
- Time on page
- Conversion rate
- Website visitors
- Social media engagements
- Reviews and feedback
- Overall monthly revenue etc.
These are all very specific and can be measured, letting you track and monitor performance to see how you're doing. And once you reach your goal metrics, it gives your team a concrete achievement to celebrate.
Lastly, metrics provide the data for future campaigns to build on, facilitating a cycle of continual improvement and success.
Write Down Your Deliverables
This is essentially what to expect from your creative team. Describe deliverables can include:
- Artwork: logos, infographics, banners and other visuals that effectively communicate your brand.
- Collateral: printed or digital materials, like flyers, brochures and business cards.
- Website content: blog posts, service page copy and other written copy to improve your website's search engine optimisation (SEO).
- Videos: adverts, educational videos or other motion graphics to help engage your audience.
- Social media content: posts, campaigns and stories to reach customers on social media platforms.
Again, be as specific as possible with your deliverables. If your social media team is creating Youtube ads, include the right specs, the type of content you want, etc. This prevents any misinterpretations and ensures that everyone is on the same page.
Set The Tone - Carefree or Formal?
How you set the tone is necessary as it will shape how your message is received by potential customers.
If you're targeting Generation-Z on TikTok, a more casual approach that keeps up with current trends or a hashtag challenge may yield better results. But if you're trying to reach a professional demographic on LinkedIn, taking a formal approach that's authoritative and stylish may get more clicks.
Your overall marketing campaign should have a specific tone, depending on your customer base. Here's how to write one for your creative campaign:
"Our brand voice is sharp yet witty, humorous and educational content for older Gen-Z audiences."
Create Creative Brief Templates
A creative brief template provides a framework for all creatives to work on. It's also great for larger digital agencies who handle multiple projects at once.
You can get a template online or create your own. Make sure to include sections like goals, target audience, deadlines and deliverables. You can customise your template to include other important details, like a section on tone and style. Use our suggestions above to include new sections!
Once you have a template, all that's left is to fill in the details and communicate it with your team. You can then use the same template for future projects, saving time from creating one from scratch.
Send Your Creative Brief to Your Stakeholders for Review
Remember how we mentioned that creative stakeholders often want to have a say?
This basically means that if they have a specific direction or idea, they should have a chance to give their input. Sharing your creative briefs gives them that opportunity, making it a collaborative effort.
Once you've created a draft, share it to all members involved, including your stakeholders. This will encourage feedback and allow all parties to raise any queries or make changes before the brief is finalised.
This step also ensures that everyone is on board with the project and what direction it's heading in. If your stakeholders have a radically different vision, then it's better to address it now than midway through the project. Talking it out early on will save time, money and hassle in the long run.
Putting It All Together
We've mentioned several key steps to help you write a good creative brief. But that doesn't mean it should be a dozen pages long and filled with jargon.
You should be able to sum up all the information into a page and include as much detail as possible that's concise. You don't want to put your audiences to sleep with an essay on why your product is important.
The main goal of any creative brief should be to provide a clear message and expectations for the project. Once everyone is on the same page in terms of goals, deliverables and deadlines, that's when the real work begins.
With a bit of preparation, you can write your own creative brief for your team that will inspire them to succeed. Good luck!