A creative brief is a document used by creative professionals and agencies to develop creative deliverables: campaign, visual design, copy, advertising, websites, etc. The document is usually developed by the requestor (in most cases an account manager) and approved by the creative team of designers, writers, and project managers. The goal of a brief is to achieve stakeholder alignment on a project before it begins.
Creative Brief Outline
A creative brief is a project blueprint: a short document that sums up marketing, advertising, or design project mission, goals, challenges, target audience, demographics, messaging, and other key details. For businesses, the creative brief can ensure that their marketing campaigns and projects are well-defined, aligned with their overall objectives, and effectively targeted to their desired audience. The content of a creative brief typically includes the following elements:
1. Project Name
Keep the project name short and precise e.g. “Xxxx product launch” and maybe add a case number for later easy search and find in archive.
2. Executive summary
A brief overview of the project or campaign, including its purpose, goals, and key stakeholders.
A summary of the context and background of the project, including the brand’s mission and its background and any relevant industry or market trends, competitive landscape, and audience insights.
4. Project objectives
What is the journey we want them to take? Briefly explain the purpose of the project: “The Problem” and “The Goal”. A list of specific, measurable objectives that the project or campaign aims to achieve. These could include increasing brand awareness, driving website traffic, or generating leads or sales.
5. Target audience
What are the key issues, concerns, and “pains”? What are the current beliefs about the product/service? What does our audience care about? A detailed description of the target audience for the project:
- Demographic: Insight into exactly who the audience is. This includes data points like age, income, education, ethnicity, and occupation.
- Psychographic: This is how the audience thinks and feels about your brand and the product or service.
- Behavioral characteristics: Where is the customer in their buyer journey. Buying behaviors, trends, and other customer insights for the target audience behaviors.
- Geographics: Digital, physical, and hybrid campaigns will benefit from having geographics stated so media buyers can price ad slots in each market.
Consider including customer profiles, buyer personas, or audience segments.
6. Key message and positioning
A simple trick: Ask yourself “We’re launching this project, so what?” The so what? is your key message. It explains why your target audience should stop what they’re doing and pay attention to your campaign. A clear statement of the key message, value proposition and differentiators that the project or campaign aims to communicate, as well as the desired positioning in the minds of the target audience.
7. Key consumer benefit
To keep everyone aligned describe a key consumer benefit (KCB). The benefit that solves the biggest problem for your audience is a good choice for the KCB.
8. Creative direction
A description of the overall creative direction, tone and voice for the project or campaign, including any specific imagery, colors, or fonts, visual or design elements, messaging guidelines, and brand standards. Should the tone be serious, irreverent, fun, or straightforward?
9. Call to Action (CTA)
What action do we want them to take? The brief could have several different CTAs, if you have a primary and secondary target audience. A CTA could have a goal to change thoughts and perceptions about your brand which doesn’t require the audience to do anything at all.
10. Channels and tactics
A list of the specific channels and tactics that will be used to reach the target audience and achieve the project objectives. This may include social media, email marketing, content marketing, paid advertising, and public relations.
A short description of the competitive landscape. A list of competitors with similar product or service offerings. Briefly list a few things your company has in common with them, how the brand has differentiated itself already, and a few areas where this project can help you get ahead.
12. Budget, timeline and approval
A breakdown of the budget and timeline for the project or campaign, including any major milestones, deadlines, constraints and who needs to give the “okay – go ahead”?
Creative Brief Templates
Here is a few different options for free creative brief templates that you can use. Choose the one that best fits your needs and customize it to create a brief that effectively communicates your project goals and objectives to your team:
- Canva Creative Brief Template: Offer a free creative brief template that you can customize to fit your needs.
- Hubspot Creative Brief Template: Offers a free creative brief template that is designed to help you gather all the necessary information you need to create effective marketing campaigns.
- Workfront: A free creative brief template in pdf.
- Casual: Offers a free collection of samples, templates and video guides for different projects.
Get more inspiration
Writing a creative brief can seem daunting at first, but it is an important step in ensuring that your project goals and objectives are clearly communicated to your team. Here are a few sources to help inspire you to write a creative brief: