4 Tools For Impressive Creative Briefs & Profitable Projects

“Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.”
– Dr. Seuss

A good creative brief is the foundation of any successful project. No matter how complicated or simple the project, having a solid brief ensures you get started on the right track.

Without a good brief, chaos ensues: the work doesn’t meet the client’s expectations; the studio is frustrated with the changing vision and constant revisions; the project ends up over budget. In this blog, we’ll cover 4 tools that will help you create better briefs and run more profitable projects. 

What is a creative brief?

A creative brief is an outline of critical elements of a project for your team and all stakeholders. It summarizes the project mission, goals, challenges, target audience, marketing and advertising method, messaging, etc. A project manager or consultant is usually in charge of creating creative briefs. 

The purpose of a creative brief is to align all stakeholders on the same page and ensure that no critical information is missed. Not as detailed as a project plan which instructs how to execute a project, a brief defines what, who, where, when, and why. A well-prepared creative brief clarifies each person’s role, establishes a mutual understanding mitigating risks and confusion, as well as creates excitement, and unifies the teams.

What are the components of a creative brief?

The length, format, and elements included can vary depending on the size and complexity of your project. While the sections of briefs can differ project by project, here is a common outline of a solid brief with the most relevant information:

  1. Company description: Provide the client background to help your agency understand the context. Introduce the client’s company, their products or services, together with their website link or other helpful materials. 
  2. Project summary: Explain what the project is about, what it requires, and what the client expects from it. 
  3. Objectives: Highlight the objectives, why the project is important, and what challenges need to be solved. The goals and objectives should follow a SMART format to identify how you can measure success. The objectives will give direction for your agency team to develop a solution that addresses the pain points.
  4. Target audience: Determine the ideal customers for the project or campaign based on demographics, interests, and any behavioral insights you have.
  5. Deliverables: Outline the deliverables in detail. Is it a series of social media content, ad banners, or a full multi-channel advertising campaign? Include the file format required and other information to deliver the right outcomes.  
  6. Competition: Input the client’s competition overview, market conditions, and trends that impact the industry. 
  7. Tone, message, and style: Details the brand personality, style guide, strategic positioning, key messages, and differentiators. Show examples of the client’s past campaigns, if any. This will help your team maintain consistency in the creative direction.
  8. Timeline: Include a timeline and ensure to have contentment from all parties on the completion date. In the kick-off meeting, discuss the creative process and the number of revisions you can agree upon for a fixed-priced contract.
  9. Budget: Reach an agreement on the project costs, realistic expectations, and deliverables before starting the work. Input the agreed budget in the brief.
  10. Key stakeholders: Include contacts of personnel who will be involved in the review and approval process.

4 Tools to create compelling creative briefs and profitable projects

1. Brief Templates

The first step may seem obvious, yet lots of agencies still don’t use brief templates. Using a creative brief template helps you automate the repeated work, save time, and maintain brand consistency across your company.  

If you don’t currently use them at your creative agency, try one of our free creative brief templates like branding creative brief template or website creative brief template, to get you started. You can also use other tools like Figma or Miro to design and brand an engaging project brief. Just ensure that your team and the client have access to and feel comfortable using the creative brief software.

When implementing creative briefs, make sure that you get every client to fill out the brief completely. Many agencies do use briefs, but they’re very lax about getting the client to give complete information. Unfortunately, getting clear, accurate details may not seem important until the project is already off-track. So, to prevent issues from arising later down the project timeline, take the initial time upfront to make the creative brief clear and complete. This will save time, money and lots of frustration in the long run. “I sure wasted time getting that brief filled out properly” – said no one ever! 

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2. Clear Persona

The second step is to make sure that the creative brief clearly identifies and details the persona that the work is targeting. A clear persona helps the creative team point their arrow in the right direction so that they can hit the bull’s-eye. In Joe Pulizzi’s book Epic Content, he talks about the most common mistakes every company makes in creating their personas – likely your clients are making these mistakes too. The most common mistake is that the persona is generic and not differentiated from the competitor’s persona. To avoid this mistake, ensure your clients have answered Pulizzi’s 5 key persona questions: 

Priority initiatives: What are 3-5 problems the buyer dedicated time, budget and political capital to solve? 

Success factors: What are the tangible and intangible factors, metrics and rewards associated with the success for the buyer? 

Perceived barriers: What doesn’t achieve success that the buyer might question you on? 

Buying process: What is your process for overcoming barriers to achieving success factors? 

Decision criteria: What aspects of the product or service will the buyer assess in regards to alternative solutions? 

Try adding these persona questions to your creative brief, or have a separate persona brief. This will ensure your agency has all the specific details it needs to get epic results for your clients. Also, consider that developing the persona for your clients is something that you could charge extra for and encourage it as an upsell option. Or, get your clients to do their own persona with this great free tool called Up Close & Persona. It’s a comprehensive tool that clients can fill out on their own, or have an Account Executive walk them through, step by step. 

3. Client Portal

Next, consider a portal tool where clients can submit their creative briefs, upload assets, submit work requests, approve estimates, and more. A client portal ensures communication is fast, centralized, and convenient, which leads to higher customer satisfaction and retention rate. It also supports document management, streamlines collaboration, boosts productivity and responsiveness, as well as improves customer service by allowing customers to resolve their own queries. By centralizing all information, you can ensure security and avoid documentation errors, while gaining greater visibility on your project. 

For example, Function Point’s client portal will send out notifications to all the ‘right’ people when a client brief has been submitted. This allows the Account Executive to follow up immediately on any incomplete parts of the brief and get the project into the studio quickly. It also ensures that the creative team is working with the most current information as the project progresses. A portal can save you lots of time, money and frustration in managing creative briefs, project information, and client requests. 

4. Project management system

As a project management software, Function Point can significantly improve the collaboration efficiency between agencies and clients. With its user-friendly interface and comprehensive features, this software helps you streamline the project management process from start to finish. It gives you visibility to control project management, time tracking, resource allocation, budgeting, reporting, and all other aspects with one tool, benefiting both parties involved. Here’re some of the best features of Function Point that support you during the briefing and executing projects:

  • Support brief creation: One of the primary benefits of using Function Point is the ability to create detailed project briefs that clearly outline the scope of work and project goals. This helps ensure that both the agency and client are on the same page from the outset, reducing the risk of miscommunication and establishing a clear roadmap for the project.
  • Real-time progress tracking: The briefing software provides a comprehensive dashboard for both agency and client to monitor progress and detect any potential problems or delays. This transparency ensures the project stays on track and issues are addressed quickly.
  • Resource management: Resource management software is a powerful tool to optimize the allocation of resources throughout the project. It helps agencies track and distribute resources effectively, minimizing waste and maximizing productivity.
  • Time management: Function Point helps you create a timeline easily to keep the entire team in sync. You can stay ahead of scheduled tasks and know when to expect deliverables. Moreover, the tool assists you in detecting potential timeline bottlenecks, enabling parties to proactively find a solution. Therefore, you can rest assured that the project is completed on time with a positive outcome and within budget.
  • Billability setup: You can track time based on the duration spent on a project (utilization) or the amount of time billed to a client (realization). For example, if your project requires a lot of research and development, to ensure that the team is not spending too much time, you may choose the utilization approach to track time. On the other hand, if your project involves a lot of client interaction, you can go for the realization time-tracking method to ensure you’re billing sufficient time spent for the client. 

To wrap up

A well-crafted creative brief is crucial for the success of any creative project. The 4 online briefing tools mentioned in this article can support you to create effective briefs that drive profitable projects. By utilizing these tools, your creative teams can streamline processes, foster communication and collaboration, and achieve impressive results.

If you want to learn more about how Function Point’s agency management software and client portal can help you run a more productive and profitable creative agency, why not join us for a free, personalized demo. We’ll take you on a quick tour of the product and answer any questions you have. 

This article was contributed by former Function Point employee, Jehanne Burns.

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