When embarking on a new project with a group, it’s important for everyone to be on the same page and know what the goals and objectives are. If everyone isn’t in agreement, you can end up in different places and not accomplish your goal. In the world of advertising and marketing, that can mean delivering something off strategy, off brand, and even off topic, which is why agencies always like to start a creative project with a creative brief.
This tool in the agency arsenal is an important one and is key to the success of larger creative projects. Whether it is written by a client and submitted to the agency or written by the agency and approved by the client, it serves as a touchpoint throughout the process.
In this article, we’ll review the key components of a creative brief and how to write one effectively.
In this section of the creative brief, you want to provide any background information about the project. This typically includes topics like:
- Competitive landscape: Share information about market conditions and industry competitors, and how the work at hand will help the product, service, or brand stand out. This will help focus both the creative and client teams.
- Evolution of the project ask: Discuss what opportunities are driving the project and what challenges motivated the client.
- Pertinent company information: Include overall company details that are integral to the project.
What are you attempting to accomplish with this project? In this section, you want to be specific about your objective and tie it to your key performance indicators (KPIs). For example, are you looking to capture email addresses or increase sales? The more specific you get with your objectives the better, as it will allow you to evaluate the success of your project in the end. Stay away from objectives that are too vague, like brand awareness. Awareness can be a KPI, but a majority, if not all, should ultimately be tied to something measurable.
When you try to be everything to everyone, you’re not as effective, so it is important to narrow down who you are trying to reach. A campaign geared toward millennial males will look very different from one aimed at married retirees. Focus on things like age, gender, psychographics, geography, and anything else pertinent to your target. If you have detailed personas, you can include those in this section. This is a time to paint a picture of your target audience, including how they see the world.
This is also a great place if you need to home in on your target more. Focus on the audience segments that will give you the greatest ROI and don’t try to be blanket all demos. This will allow you to achieve better results, especially with a limited budget.
The Single Most Important Thing to Say
At the end of the day, there is always one vital thing that we need to communicate in the project. Maybe it is an offer. Maybe it is a company differentiator. Maybe it is the details of an event. Stating the required information up front will ensure the vital details are a part of the final project.
Reasons to Believe or Buy
This is the place to explain why your target audience is going to care about the single most important thing you established. Sometimes it can be as simple as knowing the details to an event so they can attend, but other reasons can be more complex. What are the benefits, key attributes to support the idea/product, audience pain points, etc. We need to understand what motivates our audience to action and ultimately achieve those KPIs.
What Else Will Assist Creative Development?
This section covers any additional items that may be crucial for the team to understand before starting on any creative concepting. Is this piece a part of larger project that the team needs to be aware of? Are there things the competitors are doing that they need to know about? This is the place to note anything else not really covered to date.
No one will meet a deadline they don’t know exists, so it is important to lay out your timeline. Include internal deadlines, client deadlines, and publishing deadlines to give your entire team a sense of what is happening—allowing everyone to know what needs to take priority.
In every piece of creative there are always things that we must include like a logo, tagline, or website address. This is also an important section where you can include legal trademarks and disclaimers. If you are partnering with another company who needs to be represented, include their details as well.
You should keep in mind things like landing page URL’s versus main websites and calling tracking numbers versus the general phone line. If you need something different, be sure to spell it out. And always provide a place where the team can find these items like a file name or path.
It is vital to understand where customers are going to be seeing this project as different media pieces have different requirements. When dealing with an outdoor billboard, your message needs to be brief and no more than 8-12 words, but when creating a landing page, you have more time to explain a topic and dive deeper into an approach.
So, in this section, list out all the elements that will be included. This also allows your team to think about how all these elements will work together to create a cohesive look and feel.
It all comes down to money. For example, when designing a house, you are going to build something very different if it is $100,000 than if it was $1,000,000. Creative projects are no different. The team needs to know what they are working with in order to come up with a campaign that will achieve your objectives.
Now when you sit down to write a creative brief, you will have some idea of how to structure it. Keep in mind that while being thorough is important, you want to balance that with being brief and to the point. Your document shouldn’t be more than 1-2 pages in length.
Writing a creative brief before any big creative project will ensure that the work is meeting the objectives of the client and ultimately contributing to your client’s KPIs and business.