How to write the perfect creative brief

How to write the perfect creative brief

Looking for strategies to help you to write the perfect creative brief? Follow our 14-step guide for a fail-safe creative brief and then download a free template.

Working with a creative team, briefing your requirements clearly, and effectively communicating with your team is the key to success for any creative project. In this 'how-to' guide, we’ll explain all the elements you need to create the perfect creative brief. We’ll also include examples so that you can see how a creative brief can be used within a working environment.

What is a creative brief?

A creative brief is a short document outlining a creative project's approach and strategy. It’s a guideline that helps project managers, designers, developers, writers, and art-workers to understand key elements of a creative project. This might include the goals, key messaging, audience demographics, budget, and any foreseen challenges along with other key details. The aim of a creative brief is to make sure that the whole team is aligned, on the same page, and understands what the expectations and objectives of the project are before any work begins. 

What is a creative brief?

Steps to take when you’re writing a creative brief

Although your creative brief only needs to be a short document, it still needs to include all the relevant information to inspire your creative team and ensure they understand the desired outcome of the campaign.

Before you start: Speak to the key stakeholders 

It’s important to speak to the relevant stakeholders to gather all the information you need for your creative brief. You might want to book a kick-off meeting to discuss the nuances of your creative brief and any information you include might differ depending on whether you work in-house or in an agency setting. Once you’ve gathered all the relevant information from your key stakeholders, you should remain flexible in case of any changes. However, you’ll still be asking your key stakeholders the same fundamental questions to determine what to include in your creative brief.

Work through the following 14 bite-sized steps to produce your own creative brief template. This document will then ensure you can effectively fulfill any creative project objectives.

Writing the perfect creative brief

Step 1: Name your campaign or project

The best way to name your project or campaign is to keep it simple. Summarise and explain what the main call to action is in a nutshell. 

Creative brief example: Creative agency project name

“Hot Sauce with More Flavour” Campaign – Hot Sauce

Step 2: Identify the objective

Instead of focusing on the features of the product or service you are promoting, it’s better to identify the problem you need to solve and identify what you want to achieve. Take the time to explore this with your stakeholders - sometimes the problem needs exploring further, as it’s not always the most obvious choice.  

Creative brief example: Creative agency, creative brief objective

The problem: There isn’t enough flavour in traditional hot sauces. 

The objective: Sell flavourful hot sauce.

Step 3: Explain what your product or service is

Keep this section as simple as possible – just outline your product or service.

Creative brief example: Creative agency product or service description

Product/Service: The product is a new hot sauce – the ingredients include black garlic, chilies, roasted onions, and gochujang.

Step 4: Identify the target audience 

Identifying your target audience is an important way to make sure your marketing campaign contains the right messaging and is shown to the right people. Understanding your target audience not only signifies a demographic but also identifies pain points, wants, and needs. 

Creative brief example: Creative agency target audience

Target Audience: The target audience is foodies - people who are early gen-z and late millennials. They enjoy cooking and like experimenting with different flavours. They enjoy traveling and trying food from different cultures. They enjoy watching food videos on different platforms like tik-tok and Instagram, as well as more traditional media like cookery shows and travel shows. 

Their pain points include having to buy lots of ingredients that they only need a small amount of, so the remaining ingredients just sit in the back of the cupboard afterward. They’re looking for a solution to stop food waste but not have to make sacrifices on flavour when cooking.

Our 14-step guide for a fail-safe creative brief

Step 5: Explain what your target audience is currently doing to solve this problem

Explaining what your current audience is doing to solve this problem gives you an insight into who your competitors are and what they offer. It also gives creative teams inspiration on the way they can proposition your offering to your target market. 

Creative brief example: Creative agency audience behaviours

What is the audience currently doing to solve this problem: Currently, the audience is either buying lots of ingredients that get wasted after initial use, or buying hot sauce that doesn’t pack in enough flavour. 

Step 6: Explain the purpose of your product/service

What is your product or service designed for? Explain its USP or the main feature and benefit for your target audience. Remember to keep it short. 

Creative brief example: Creative agency purpose

What’s the purpose: The purpose of the hot sauce is to pack a punch and add flavour to simple meals.

Step 7: Outline the timescale

What are the expectations for the campaign? How long does your creative team have before the campaign launch? Is there a particular date or event that’s significant to the launch? How does the time scale affect the desired outcomes? 

The time scales should outline any deadlines for creative deliverables and also keep note of any key dates and meetings relevant to your creative campaign.

Creative brief example: Creative agency timescale

Timescale: Campaign is due to go live in early summer to capture people planning to have barbecues. 

Meeting timelines: 

  • Kick-off meeting: March 10th
  • Creative brief due: April 1st 
  • Branding first draft due: April 20th
  • Branding final due: May 1st
  • First creative drafts all channels: May 15th
  • Final creative and ad copy due: May 20th
  • All campaigns live: May 22nd
Creative brief example

Step 8: What are the rational and emotional reasons people will believe in your product or service

Essentially, this step is designed for you to explain why your target audience should care about your product. This is an important step in establishing brand trust.

Creative brief example: Creative agency USP’s

Why will people believe in this product: We want the branding to speak to the target audience, be fun, and trustworthy and stand out on the supermarket shelves. They should care about the product because it uses fresh, natural, and high-quality flavours, saves time, and reduces food waste. 

Step 9: Outline key messages

In this section, you need to explain what you want to say. It might be that your product solves a particular problem or it might introduce your brand to your target audience. Whatever your intention, it should convince your audience to choose your products or services. You should also explain how you want your audience to feel.

Creative brief example: Creative agency key messaging

Key messages: One bottle of hot sauce to replace multiple ingredients. Lots of flavour in one bottle. Made with fresh ingredients.  

Step 10: Outline the call to action

What do you want your audience to do? Do you want your audience to buy a product, fill out a contact form, or carry out an action? This is where you outline what you want your audience to do.

Creative brief example: Creative agency call to action

Call to action: Taste the flavour of hot sauce. Buy our brand of hot sauce at the supermarket or online.

Step 11: Outline which channels are involved

How are you going to reach your audience, what channels are you going to use and what creative assets will be required? This might include print, digital, content, paid media, or video. It will help your creative team understand exactly what approach is required. 

Creative brief example: Creative agency channel mix

Channels: Creative branding, social media (organic & paid), PPC, print-based adverts, influencer marketing, TV advert, TV product placement. 

Compiling the perfect creative brief

Step 12: Don’t forget the competition

It’s important for your creative team to understand exactly who the competition is and what sets your solution apart from them. So, make sure to include your main competitors.

Creative brief example: Creative agency competitor analysis

Competition: The main competition in the hot sauce market is Tabasco, Choluha, and Franks RedHot sauce.

Step 13: Confirm what parts of the campaign are essential elements and which parts of the campaign are “nice to have”

There might be specific colours, a brand voice, or guidelines that need to be adhered to, or there may be specific design no-nos to avoid. You might also want to confirm any specific words or images that need to be included within the creative work produced. Other non-negotiables might include any processes or key stakeholders’ sign-off. This is also where to include the budget for each channel.  

Creative brief example: Creative agency budget and requirements

Requirements: The main colour palette must include orange and green. The branding needs to be fresh, and the bottle needs to stand out on the shelves in comparison to competitors. The main emphasis is flavour rather than just adding heat, so the words heat and hot should be avoided. All artwork needs to be signed off by the managing director.

Budget: The overall budget is £50,000. With £10,000 budgeted towards influencer marketing, £10,000 on TV ads and product placement, £15,000 on branding, £5,000 on PPC, and £10,000 on social media.  

Step 14: Define success

Set out what you want you to want to achieve with your campaign. How is success measured and how is it attributed?  In your attribution phase, you’ll want to decide which people you need to assign the work to. 

Creative brief example: Creative agency attribution

How do we measure success: We want our product to take on 5% of the market share. In terms of attribution, we expect to be able to attribute  20% of our sales through influencer marketing and 25% through paid media.

Creative brief success

Free creative brief template 

When it comes time to compiling a creative brief template, it's worth producing versions in a range of formats such as, Word, an interactive pdf or an online form on your website. This will ensure that you cater for any and all clients and stakeholders.

To help get you started, you can either download our free creative brief template or copy and paste the headings below, and use them as a basis for your very own creative brief.

Title and description: 
Objectives and goals:
Product/service description:
Target audience: 
What is the audience currently doing to solve this problem:
Purpose:
Time scale:
USPs:
Key messages: 
Call to action:
Marketing channels: 
Competitors:
Budget and requirements:
Attribution:
People:  

Getting the most out of your creative brief

It’s important to remember that your creative brief is just the starting point for your project. If you’re delivering your creative brief to a creative agency or marketing team it’s important to discuss the brief with them and allow for their input. 

Your creative brief is just a starting point and should evolve as your campaign develops. It should become the cheat sheet for your campaign and include all the key information. So, don’t forget to keep it flexible enough to support a fast-working and moving team. 

Streamline creative collaboration with Oppolis Cloud

When your creative brief is ready for action, Oppolis Cloud can help you to collaborate between your creative teams and your clients and stakeholders. Creative collaboration starts with an effective creative brief.

If you’d like to find out more about how Oppolis Cloud can take your creative brief and help you manage the entire creative project, talk to our helpful team today. Or, if you're already at a point where your business will benefit from the Oppolis Cloud platform, simply sign up for a free trial account.

How to write the perfect creative brief

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Free creative brief template, guide to a creative brief, the perfect creative brief, creative brief template, creative collaboration, creative project management, Oppolis Cloud

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