How to Write a Great Creative Brief

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by Jay Musselwhite, Jaymus LLC

As many of you know, I partner with a variety of talented vendors to deliver what my clients need. Jay is one such vendor. So when I saw his article on writing a creative brief, I wanted to share it with you. While we hope you pick BBR Marketing for your creative and Web projects, providing this level of detail and type of information will make the process move forward more smoothly, and typically deliver more quickly, no matter who you use. Enjoy and learn!

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Writing a good creative brief is about clear, concise communication. You shouldn’t expect a designer, agency or project manager to immediately understand what’s in your head to the degree that you understand. That simply doesn’t happen. And while a detailed face-to-face meeting can go far, the actual act of writing down your tasks and objectives will help organize your thoughts and make communicating the project to your creative team easy.

So where to begin? In this article, you’ll find a skeleton questionnaire that will help organize information about your project. This information will be used to effectively design everything from a simple logo to a hundred-page website and will guide both the creative team and the client. In my opinion, the real benefit of a creative brief is for the client. The process of writing out the creative brief will help clarify thoughts, identify patterns and polish messaging.

Sources for the ideas contained in the creative brief can be anything. Talk to your sales force, have brainstorming discussions, listen your clients and customers and honestly evaluate how the company views itself. Then differentiate that with how the market views the company. This will help clearly define the direction the company needs to be moving and how a new identity, brochure or brand strategy will support those goals.

 

What’s the Project?

This is the easy part. Just describe what needs to be done. We’ll get into more detail later.

 

Project Summary

To begin, state general project goals and relevant background information. Include project history if any and reasons for needing work. Define the company, what it does, how it makes a profit and its place within the industry. The idea here is to clarify what the company does, where it needs to go in the future and how this project will help achieve that end.

  • What is the single purpose of the project?
  • What are the secondary goals of the project?
  • What are the long-term goals of the company and how will the project help support this goal?

 

Audience Profile

Profile the target audience. Provide enough detail to enhance everyone’s understanding of who the audience is. Include some user demographic information if available. Your goal with this section is to answer the following: Who is the target? What do they care about? And what they do on a daily basis? What other companies, competitors or industry-related companies do they have contact with?

Choose a typical current customer to profile in detail. Include occupation, age range, gender, online frequency, activities and any other relevant information. Profile more than one if applicable.

Choose a post-identity, future customer profile in detail. This person represents a new inclusion into your customer base – a customer that you want to capture as a result of company growth. Include occupation, age range, gender, online frequency, activities and any other relevant information. Profile more than one if applicable.

 

Perception/Tone/Guidelines

  • What does the target audience currently think and feel about the company? What do we want them to think and feel?
  • How will this project help to achieve this goal?
  • What adjectives can be used to describe the way the company should be perceived?
  • What specifically do these adjectives mean to the customer’s daily life or business?
  • What are some specific visual goals the project should convey? How will the visuals convey the message?
  • What will be the tone of the messaging and copy? Is it verbose? Short and to-the-point? Industry jargon? B2B? Plain English?
  • What are some common messages used to sell products or services related to yours? Any messaging you know will not work?

 

Communication Strategy

  • How will we convince your customer of your brand assertions?
  • What is the overall message you are trying to convey to your target audience? For example: cost-effective, secure, reliable, efficient, etc. Why is this important to the customer?
  • How will you convey the overall message?
  • What touchpoints are most frequently seen or heard by your customer? Sales force? Company literature? Personal contact? Website?
  • Identify stages of development (if appropriate) used to attract client sales.
  • How will you ensure that the client experience is what your brand promises?
  • How will you measure the success of the final project?

 

Competitive Positioning

  • How do you think your company is different from the competition?
  • How does your customer think you’re different from the competition?
  • Who are your competitors? Where do you fall amongst them in terms of industry perception?
  • What specifically sets you apart from your competition?
  • What do you offer that no other company in your industry offers?
  • What do you offer that everyone else offers?
  • What service is your company best?
  • What services need work to grow?
  • What areas of the current customer perception are successful and why?
  • Does the company have any negative perceptions in the marketplace?

 

Targeted Message

State a single-minded phrase or sentence that will appropriately describe the overall message once it is launched. This is that one idea that sticks in the consumer’s mind. Think “Tide will get my clothes the cleanest” or “Hondas are reliable.”

 

Project Specifics (some may not apply to your project)

  • What is your vision of what the new logo and brand identity will look like?
  • Are there any related companies that would provide a model or inspiration for the look and feel of the new project?
  • How many colors do you foresee the new logo will have? A typical logo would be two colors. Remember, the more colors, the more expensive it is to produce.
  • Should the logo be recognizable from distances as on the sides of trucks, boxes, etc.? Or will it only appear on a website?
  • Are there any working mock-ups, sketches or layouts of the materials?
  • What information will be contained on each printed piece? Will this content be supplied or will it need to be developed?
  • What pieces need to be developed? For example, logo, tagline, letterhead, business cards, signage, envelopes, identity manual, brochures, website, etc.
  • What are the timeframes for development of these pieces? Include a flow chart if necessary.
  • What is the budget for printing of all materials?
  • What is the budget for printing?
  • How many pages do you foresee the website having? Create a web map of the pages if necessary.
  • Provide any additional practical concerns.

 

Additional Information

Please provide any additional information or direction that will help to define the final work.

 

What do you think? Did he miss anything? Would you like to add anything to this list? Please share your ideas with the rest of the class.

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