The Creative Brief – What is it? How to Use it.

The Creative Brief – What is it? How to Use it.

The Creative Brief – What is it? How to Use it.

The Creative Brief is perhaps the keystone document in the process of creating a successful marketing communications program. It is the summation of and vision for creative execution. The guiding light in weaving a compelling story or buying idea in words and pictures.

“If I had more time, I’d have written a shorter letter.”

– Mark Twain

The most difficult aspect of writing a Creative Brief is keeping it brief. Ironically, to do so takes time crafting a Creative Brief that’s both Creative and Brief. Like the maxim, “I’d have written it shorter if I had more time,” the Creative Brief requires a good deal of thought and time. As well as familiarity with the product, service or brand, the marketing requirements, and most importantly some context from the voice of the customer.

Creative Brief Customer Insights

Customer insights are the priceless components in a Creative Brief. The better you can convey what drives preference from pain to pleasure, the better prepared a creative team will be in executing brilliant solutions for the marketing communications opportunity.

Consequential customer insights provide strategic guidance and arm the creatives – those people with the big ideas – with information that leads to concepting. Without that direction or by just letting the creatives throw ideas around without a road map, there’s no purpose, problem to solve, or mindset to change.

Briefly Speaking…

When writing the Creative Brief, you must know the product, services or brand well enough to help the creatives truly understand the difference between your client and their competition. It’s important to illustrate the “what to do” rather than the “how to do it.” What is a catalyst for free-flowing creativity. How is a buzz-killer that limits the enthusiasm of the team.

The Creative Brief also needs careful and thoughtful vetting. When you finish the one-page draft – yes, one page – put it aside for a while before asking, Am I presenting the opportunity clearly and succinctly? Have I given insights into how the customer feels, thinks and positions the product/service/brand? Is the challenge clearly benchmarked – what customers think now vs. what we want them to think?

The Buy-in

Now, present the Creative Brief to your team. You want their reaction to be “I’m in” and hopefully, excitement. You should reach agreement on this contract between you and the creatives. However, unlike a contract, you don’t negotiate. If the creatives don’t get it, you won’t get what you want. That’s when you go back to your Brief to rethink and rework it. It happens…

If it’s off-target or off-brand, it may be one of two things: a reflection of your Creative Brief, or your team isn’t understanding the brand and the problem/solution nexus. That’s when you revisit the Creative Brief with the team and re-direct their efforts based on the Brief.

A well-constructed Creative Brief always helps produce better work and strengthens relationships on all sides. Even Forbes shines praise on them. When everyone is on the same page, it makes the creative product easier to execute, easier to understand, and easier to sell. As to being on the same page…

Remember there’s only one page – It’s a Creative Brief.

To discuss your creative needs, contact Ben Marion,

NOTE: Templates for a Creative Brief abound. Every agency has a form and many can be found online. Click here for an example. For more reading about the creative process, see our recent post, Finding Your Creative Energy in the Year Ahead.

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