9 Must-Haves For A Stellar Creative Brief

Ordinary creative briefs are often missing the detail and direction needed when multiple people are working together to bring a project to life. And while they can sometimes get the job done, they don’t always create that initial spark that can lead to an amazing end product.

Some might even argue that the standard creative brief can even be a dangerous thing. Left to their own devices and with little direction, teams can sometimes produce end products that are way off-base — and that means spending precious time reworking a deliverable that could’ve been spot-on with a bit more preliminary direction in the creative brief.

This is why you need to create an extraordinary creative brief that’s concise and directive about what’s needed to bring the project to its full potential. Being more deliberate about crafting this document before any work begins can be the difference between major time and budget investments into a project. Here are nine must-haves for a stellar creative brief.

A clear objective and goal for the project. It’s not enough to put together a few general sentences. The creative brief should include a complete, detailed project overview with an objective and end goal. Get everyone on the same page and working toward a single cause before the project even begins.

Metric(s) for measuring success. Benchmarks for measuring the success (or failure) of the project will help participants gauge their work and more accurately judge their efforts and tweak elements along the way. Without metrics in place, there’s no real way for anyone to evaluate performance.

Customer feedback & insights. It might not always seem relevant to share customer feedback in a creative brief, but sometimes, this data can be worked into projects for greater customer satisfaction in unexpected ways as the project progresses. And with data from Gartner indicating that customer experience is expected to be the main competitive differentiator by as soon as 2017, this seems more relevant than ever before.

A summary of the theme or tone of the project. Themes and tones should have plenty of room for creative interpretation, but be shared as a basic background of what is trying to be communicated and accomplished. Share examples of images, colors, inspiration sources, etc. that creatives can mull over when coming up with ideas.

A breakdown of the target audience & channels. Be as detailed as possible when explaining who the target audience is, and which channels the team will be using to reach them. Build out an ideal persona and break down everything from age range to typical pain points so the team can speak directly to the target audience member. From here, outline out what channel(s) will be used (online, email, print, etc.) and the specifics for each medium or platform. Part of the campaign may be how each of the channels compliment each other.

A primary call to action. Define the one call to action (CTA) for the project, as well as how it relates to the metrics for success. This singular CTA will help keep laser focus on the main objective at hand — as too many CTAs can be distracting both for the creative team and for the target audience.

Summary of competitive landscape. Aside from a list of competitors within the marketplace, include a list of existing competing materials that the project is up against. This helps ensure there is less overlap and that the project keeps a fresh, new angle.

Brand information. Share company information such style guides, copy, logos, fonts, etc.) plus specifications for use. This is also a good place to share any existing company resources you want leveraged, including research, quotes from the founder, etc.

Due dates for drafts, edits, and launch. Putting due dates in the creative brief keeps everyone accountable about when things are due and allows for flexibility if it’s needed.

With a creative brief, less isn’t always more

It seems that creative ‘brief’ might be a slightly misleading name for this document. Adding a bit more detail can actually add a great deal of value for the team — and can help create a much higher quality end product. It takes a little longer to assemble, and yes, it looks more intense when you hand it over to the creative team, but the extraordinary creative brief can produce incredible products from teams who are motivated, have direction, and feel confident in what to do next.

Is there a recipe for a perfect creative brief? We think this is pretty close, but there’s no way of ensuring it will work every time. However, with a bit more detail from the start of a project, it’s likely that you’ll spend far less time fixing project outcomes that results from ordinary or subpar creative briefs. Take the time to build out a strong creative brief at the beginning and you’ll get a stronger end result.