What is a creative brief?

3 Minutes Read

Are you looking to begin your next creative project? You’re already aware of the different pieces that need to come together to complete the vision. But it all has to start somewhere… and at this point, you’re not sure where that starting point is.

This is not an unusual position to be in. Creative work takes, well, work and planning. Without the planning, it’s not realistic that it will come together as it should. That’s why creative briefs are so important to this process. If the concept of creative briefs is new to you, you’ll want to continue reading to learn more about what they are and how to make a creative brief for your next creative project.

What is a creative brief?

A creative brief is the outline of the strategy used for a creative project. It includes everything you need to know about the project to make it happen, including the goal. The brief encompasses answers to many of the questions that are needed to pull the project together to complete it. It’s usually developed at the early or initial stages of the project and it helps to keep all the stakeholders and key players aligned and on goal, on budget, and within the timeline of the project.

Why use a creative brief?

All players involved in the creative project, the creative team and the client, need to know the purpose of the project, the objectives and expectations, and the process moving forward. The creative brief helps to bring this plan to light. Think of it this way, a builder doesn’t start building a dream home without a blueprint, right? So, you shouldn't start that awesome creative project without a plan.

Creative briefs are the blueprints for all parties involved in creative endeavors like marketing or social media campaigns, animation, product design, magazine photo shoots, etc. An effective creative brief lays out all the deliverables and keeps all the key players involved on point. The creative brief gives you a place to start, informs you what to do in between, and lets you know what the final product should look like.

In essence, the creative brief is important because it aligns everyone around the goal of the project, brings consistency and structure to the entire creative process, documents the important details of the project, and defines specific deliverables along the way.

Overall, the creative brief:

  • Saves time by keeping everyone on task
  • Helps with accountability and communication, staying within brand guidelines and utilizing the brand voice
  • Makes requests easier to get approved
  • Allows for a high-quality end result

What’s included in a creative brief?

In order for the creative brief to supply all the information needed to implement the creative project, certain aspects of the project need to be determined from the start. You will probably find yourself asking questions like:

  • What is the brand identity, tone of voice, key message, and purpose of this project?
  • What problem is being solved or what opportunity is being presented?
  • What roles do the marketing team, copywriters, account manager, and project manager play in this project?
  • Who is this project for and why should they care?
  • How, when, and where will this be used?
  • What result do we want from this project?
  • How will the success of this project be measured?

Once the answers to these types of questions have been answered and everyone is on the same page, other determinations can be made that include:

  • The objective of the project
  • The budget at hand
  • The target audience
  • The key messaging that should be utilized
  • The deliverables that need to happen
  • The timelines associated with each deliverable
  • How the results will be measured

These components are likely the most essential elements for your creative brief. You may discover additional elements as you move forward. The creative brief happens with the collaborative efforts and creative approaches of all parties involved.

The client will initially develop their version of the brief. However, after all parties have come together to discuss the project in more detail, the project brief can be strengthened to also include the actual work of the creative team.

Types of creative briefs

Creative briefs come in different forms. As such, here are some of the different types of briefs:

Media: Media briefs are used by ad companies that deal with television, radio, or newspapers. Projects usually involve commercials, news articles, TV shows, and the like.

Strategic: Businesses use strategic briefs to outline and forecast their business strategy to meet certain objectives moving forward.

Management: Management briefs are beneficial for management to strategize how the operations of a business will run, especially around productivity and employee satisfaction.

Business: Business briefs are useful in helping businesses carry out strategies to promote their brand.

Product: While the business brief carries out strategies to promote a business's brand, product briefs are used to carry out the work for a specific product of the business. This could include a marketing campaign.

Hiring: Hiring briefs are useful in a company’s recruitment efforts and are used a lot by HR departments.

Trial or Legal: Trial briefs and legal briefs are both essential for gathering events of a trial.

Health and Safety: Health and safety briefs are used to promote health and safety practices.

Event: Big events don’t happen without creative planning. Event briefs are essential for pulling the work of a film, music festival, concert, etc. together so there are no missing pieces.

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Stephanie Milne

Stephanie is a digital marketer passionate about storytelling and content creation.