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How To Write an Effective Client Creative Brief

Whether your agency is producing a website, an app, a brand identity, a PR or content campaign, or everything in between, whether you're working alongside another stakeholder, or your staff are in-house or outsourced, taking the time to establish a creative brief will result in a better end result for your client.

A good creative brief should be collaboration between agency and client. Sitting down to a face-to-face meeting is useful, but the act of committing the brief to paper solidifies the ideas already presented and provides a framework for the project. A brief can be as open or as rigid as both parties are comfortable with, but the best type of creative briefs outline parameters within which the agency has full creative jurisdiction.

The client might have little experience working on a creative brief, so it is up to you to lead the way. The smaller the brief, the bigger the ideas – a short, 1-2 page brief will give your creative team the freedom to explore new concepts while still remaining within the bounds of the project.

Creative-brief-template

Creative Brief template, from Smart Insights.

The brief should encompass the following sections

  • Project Summary
  • Target Audience
  • Communication Strategy
  • Measurability
  • Competitive Positioning
  • Project Specifics
  • Any additional Information or evidence

Project Summary

Basically, what has to be done, when, and by whom? What are the project's goals? What are the company's goals? You might also include background information here, like company history, branding info, and their place within the industry. How will this project help the company achieve their goals?

Target Audience

This section of the creative brief involves a detailed profile of the target audience. If you have user-demographic information, here is where you include it. It can sometimes help to choose a real customer and profile them, or to invent a customer personality and give him/her all the common characteristic customer quirks.

Questions to ask:

  • Who is your customer?
  • What age/sex/marital status/income bracket/cultural group are they?
  • Do they buy for themselves or someone else?
  • What are they interested in?
  • How often do they need your product/service?

Many creative briefs also focus on a future customer – a change in the customer demographic based on a new market successfully targeted with the product/service/campaign/website.

Communication Strategy

The communication strategy basically explains how you're going to get the client's message to their customers. It could be a website, print material, a marketing campaign – this will depend on the type of work your agency does.

In this section you will examine the message you're trying to convey to the audience – get the client to brainstorm words relating to their message – reliable, cool, secure, efficient.

Measurability

How are you going to measure the effectiveness of the campaign? Does your agency already have processes in place to measure a campaign's performance? Are these the client's responsibility?

Competitive Positioning

This section deals with the competition, and what they're doing. Identify the main competitors. How does the company compare? What sets them apart? How will the project take advantage of the company's strengths in the marketplace?

Project Specifics

In this section, you lay out the specifics of the project – the format, scale, size, etc. What exactly is your agency going to do for the client? You might also include resources such as examples of branding/campaigns that a client thinks are particularly effective/particularly awful or branding information about colours and fonts.

This section might also include the budget, timeframe and deliverables.

Tips for a successful creative brief

6-great-creative-marketing-ideas-for-small-and-midsized-businesses_556_421429_0_14071155_500

Creative cloud, from Inkhead.

  • Keep your brief simple – don't use lots of jargon. Both your client and your creative team need the brief to be clear and concise.
  • Use a template – such as that outlined above. By sticking to a known formula you'll quickly develop a method for producing effective briefs.
  • Work with the client – use their input to generate the brief – don't just write it and get them to approve it. The process of writing the creative brief helps to client to solidify their own ideas.
  • Refer to the brief – when you've created the brief, it should be the central focus of the project. Don't just toss it aside and do your own thing – a good brief enables your team to be creative within certain parameters.
  • Control the strategy, and give the creative freedom – not the other way around!
  • Think long term – help the client to understand how their project has to impact their long-term business goals.
  • Keep it simple! I can't stress this enough. Focus on a single, simple brand message and how to get that message across in an effective way.

An effective creative brief allows an agency to start work on a client project with clear parameters within which to work their creative magic. The process of writing the brief also helps the client to solidify exactly what they want done and the results they want to see. The simpler the process of formulating the creative brief, the easier it is for you, as the agency, to do your job.

How do you write creative briefs? Do you have any tips to share?