The creative brief is the seedling from which all advertising and marketing campaigns spring to life. Depending on that seedling you may end up growing a flourishing rose garden or a tangled mess of weeds. In other words, a badly written brief will lead to misdirected creative and more often than not, an unsuccessful campaign. Even the best creative team cannot undo the damage of a carelessly composed brief.
Why are there so many ineffective creative briefs out there? It can be down to a variety of reasons: time pressures, lack of effort, an account management oversight or sometimes people just may not fully understand how powerful a well-written brief can be. It takes time and a lot of thought to create a useful brief, so make sure you give it the energy it deserves!
There are several steps involved in preparing to create a great brief:
- Talk to the client and ask them lots of questions.
- Research the product or service; get to know it personally!
- Research the competition; know what you are selling against.
- Research your audience.
Once you have done this you can start putting pen to paper. Here are some of the main points your creative brief must capture:
1. What is the purpose/outcome for this campaign?
This is hugely important, as it will drive the direction, style and creative of the project.
2. What is the background/marketplace?
Giving your creative team insight into the current market and any issues within the environment will allow them to prepare their creative from an informed position. It will give them a good starting point for the campaign and will help them to avoid any snags along the way.
3. Who are we talking to?
This is where you can provide your research about the audience. Be specific here. Describe the demographic with insights into their behavior, shopping patterns, feelings etc. Provide detail in particular about their interaction with the client’s product/service.
4. What is the unique selling proposition? (The unique product benefit that the competition cannot claim)
This is the meat of your brief. It is where your research has brought you. It will be your campaign strategy. This is a condensed, one liner that will capture the essence of your project. As such, this should take the most amount of time to come up with.
Some great examples are:
- Domino’s Pizza: “You get fresh, hot pizza delivered to your door in 30 minutes or less—or it’s free.”
- FedEx: “When your package absolutely, positively has to get there overnight.”
- M&M’s: “Melts in your mouth, not in your hand.”
5. What are the reasons the audience should believe in your client’s product/service?
These will be supplemental arguments for your USP. They will back up the USP and help to drive the campaign strategy forward.
6. What are the deliverables of this campaign?
How will the campaign be delivered? Print, Web, Outdoor, TV etc.
7. When and how much?
You can choose to add a schedule of deliverables here as well as the budget. This will help your creative team to work within deadlines and ensure that they can stay on budget (as much as possible).
Once you have all this information on paper try to condense it to 1 page if possible. Review with your creative director if you can before you bring it to the client. Get ready to share your brief in person ideally with your client (you want to be there to sell your strategy to your client and answer any questions) and get their sign off.
Fuel the design process in your creative agency with our creative brief templates.
This article was contributed by former Function Point employee, Karen O’Mahony.