Writing A Great Creative Brief

There's a real craft to writing a really succinct brief and it's an equally important part of campaign development as copywriting or art-direction...

I am as guilty as the next person of writing woolly creative briefs. There's a real craft to writing a really succinct brief and it's an equally important part of campaign development as copywriting or art-direction so getting it right is an integral part of a campaign's success.  So here's my quick and hopefully useful reminder on writing a good creative brief.

First things first

There's a difference between a marketing plan and a creative brief. Often the plan is presented as the brief. And why not? The marketing plan usually covers lots of good stuff about sales objectives, product development, competitors, research, consumer profiles, media choice, timing plans and a history of the brand and where it is heading. However this is just background information for the creative team and often a bit dull and noisy. You need to feed the team some insight-led nuggets of info that they can focus on and not get sidetracked through information overload.  If more information is needed it's good to know that it's there but the brief should purposeful, short and insight driven.

Purpose of the brief

The creative brief is a summary of all the planning, research and hard work that has gone before to get to the point of developing the campaign. The Creatives don't need to be wowed with an hundred page document that shows how important the project is or just how much work has gone into getting to this stage. They don't care. They are thinking of words, pictures, headlines, photography, illustration, art-direction, crafting typography and producing beautiful, successful work. They simply need to understand, quickly, what the final desired outcome is and how we want to make the consumer think, feel and act. With that simple knowledge they will not be weighed down with data but motivated and empowered to create great work.

Short and simple

Aim for a page, no more. The heart of the brief may actually be just one line on that page and if it is then you will have reached yoda-like brief writing status.

Make sure you include:

The purpose of the campaign to identify the specific task that the communication is for.

The target audience in terms of attitude and lifestyle rather than demographics or socio-economic guff.

Consumer insight based on your understanding of the audience's needs and wants.

The proposition : the single thought that distinguishes the brand either emotionally or physically

Reasons to believe:  let's see some proof that your proposition stands up for itself.

The brand personality and tone of voice. Where it is now and where it wants to be (which might be the same place).

Two heads are better than one.

Share the brief creation process with colleagues to help create the content. Most importantly, question any woolly areas and take them out. Strive to be succinct, motivating and insight-driven based on as much primary and secondary research or insight that you can lay your hands on.

If you can't answer the key points then spend time with your agency to help define them before briefing the job.  This way you'll get more competitive and compelling creative that has a much better chance of delivering a successful campaign.


Last Updated: 10/05/2016
Author: Joe Chetcuti

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Download our quick one page guide to writing a great creative brief:

  • First principles
  • Understanding your audience
  • Keeping the brief brief
  • What to include


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