A Creative Brief Roadmap
How To Write A Creative Brief That Gives You The Best Results
Starting the creative process for any branding or marketing project in your business can be a daunting task - if you let it. But if you have a roadmap and outline of what you need and your expectations you can manage the process with ease and have a little fun while you do it.
The job of a creative brief is to provide insights to help the creative team - graphic designer, copywriter, artist, web designer, or social media manager. You want to provide the right amount and the right data points for the team to provide you with “on-brand” creative and content that is consistent and authentic for your business. Don’t let your creative brief be a data dump of research and information that the team needs to sift through. Provide concise info that will help them gather the insights they need without getting too far into the weeds.
I have created a Creative Brief Template to help you down the path to your best creative development. I have 14 topics or “categories” for you to consider. You don’t have to include each topic in every brief but I am providing a topline overview so that you have a full outline of what is important for your creative brief. Here are the key topics to include:
- Project Summary
- Project Details
- Key Message Objective
- Current Assets
- Company Vision and Values
- Company Mission
- Brand Benefits & Reasons to Believe
- Brand Character/Personality: Emotional Tone and Style
- Brand Identity Direction
- Target Audience
- Competitive Landscape
- Channels of Distribution
You will want to write up a short summary of the project to kick off the project. Of course, you want to reinforce core brand attributes, connect consumers to the brand and your product, but your goal for this category is to provide an overview of what you want to accomplish. Is this project for the website, social media, or sales materials that the sales team needs for a buyer presentation. Provide the what and why for your project.
For the project details, you want to provide the specifics of the project. This category is exceptionally important as this is the meat of the project and you want to provide all the details that you need and expect to be included in the development. If this was a packaging creative brief you would provide details on the type of container, name of the product, content for the front of the pack, and back of the pack. If you are creating packaging for a food company you will include all the specifications for the nutrition panel, flavors, ingredient listing, number of skus, etc. The important piece for this category is to provide as much information as possible so that the designer can include the key elements on the first go. Check out my free resource “Packaging Checklist for Food Labels” for more details on what to include on your packaging.
Key Message Objective
When developing your objectives for the project take into consideration the rational and emotional benefits that will entice your consumer to buy the product. Prioritize support points so that there is a hierarchy to your messaging. Everything can’t be the focal point. Determine what message will be key and then include contributing attributes.
You might only include this category on the first project with a new team. The goal here is to offer insights into what you already have in your branding and marketing toolbox so that you can be consistent in messaging and visuals. Including your logo or lifestyle photos, you currently use will help a new team understand where you are currently and know to stay the course or recommend a turn. If you have market research you could include it as an appendix but provide key points of the research so that the team does not have to plow through pages of data to find the nuggets.
Company Vision and Values
Your company vision and values should be included when you are starting to work with a new creative team or freelance designer. It will help them understand the purpose of your business and be sure to align with key values.
Another category that is only necessary for a new creative team. Knowing what business you are in and how you accomplish what you do is important so that the team has clarification on your category and the products you make.
Brand Benefits & Reasons to Believe
Brand benefits and reasons to believe apply to your business overall and more importantly to the products. Provide details on what makes your company unique and what the key selling points are for your brand and for the products you will be featuring. Provide data points that help the consumer trust your brand. Include details of certifications, product claims, problems you are solving, or motivations that connect with your consumer.
Brand Character and Personality
This is the fun part! Your brand personality is the tone of voice and visual styles you are creating or are currently using for your brand. This would already be determined by you and you would share the details with a new team or if you are incorporating different personas for different products you would include insights or inspirational visuals here. Including elements of your determined archetype are key along with recommendations for the voice of your content.
Brand Identity Direction
Another fun part of the project where you are defining the visual elements or providing inspirational files to help guide the creative direction. You will want to include style attributes based on your brand character and tone of voice. If your main archetype is the magician you will want the creative team to understand the key characteristics that align for your brand. The magician is visionary and charismatic providing big ideas and making things happen - apply these characteristics to your brand and offer ideas for how this shows up in your branding. Include elements that you want to avoid; messages, colors, or visuals but also include inspirational files for visuals or colors to explore.
A very important piece to help define who will be viewing and interacting with this piece of branding and marketing. Include aspects of demographics and psychographics, motivations to purchase, and the problem that you are solving for your consumer. I like to include the top five key identifiers of the audience.
- What does the band mean to the consumer?
- What currently motivates them to buy?
- What triggers help them to connect to the brand and product?
- How will they use the product?
- What barriers are in the way of purchase?
The competitive landscape is especially good for a new team. Providing an overview of the competitive landscape helps designers see what creative is currently in the space. Provide a list of 3-4 competitors with website links and include an overview of the competitive landscape. You won’t have to include the complete competitive landscape each time but as you launch new products you will want to include a matrix of potential matchups of products that are similar to yours.
Channels of Distribution
An overview of your distribution plan will provide an understanding of where you will be sold. Provide a list of key retailers; online and brick and mortar stores that sell your products. If you are going strictly direct to the consumer via your website it helps to know this when determining your call to action.
Providing expectation for your timeline; start and finish help a team prioritize projects but also align with due dates for printing, media placements, or launch timelines.
Last but not least you need a range of what you will budget for the project. Not only for the team but for your overall marketing budget so that you stay within planned monthly and yearly expectations. Nothing is worse than going over budget where you then need to cut back somewhere else or altogether have to eliminate another project because of unexpected expenses. If your creative team is external get an upfront estimate for the services and any costs for printing, materials, or packaging. Being proactive to costs is a huge advantage to developing the best outcome. Check out the blog I wrote that includes a budget template “Setting Your Marketing Budget To Get Results” for more details on budget planning.
I have included a Creative Brief template to help you outline your projects. Make the template your own with details and inspirational insights that allow your creative team to excel. Establishing clear goals helps you maintain consistent and authentic messaging to position your brand for success.
I am happy to help you walk through the details of your project to get the best outcome possible. With over 20 years of experience, I can guide you through the meandering path of branding and marketing to design a creative brief and work collaboratively with your team.