A creative brief is the very foundation of any advertising/marketing campaign. Making a simple (but relatable) analogy, the briefing is the metaphorical treasure map that creatives follow. The brief shows the creative professionals not only where to start digging to find the golden ideas but also how to open the treasure chest.
By definition, a creative brief (or creative briefing) is a document produced by the requesting party (the customer) with the goal of establishing the defining aspects of a creative piece of work, such as a print ad or website banner. The term is often heard in the advertising market where it represents the first step in the journey of producing all sorts of material such as promotional videos, websites, etc.
According to this amazing SlideShare by Edward Boches (take a couple of minutes and check it out, it’s awesome), a creative brief:
Is a blueprint, a guide, even a source of inspiration. It details our objectives, audience/community, message or utility, the context in which we’ll engage, timing and budged. In short, the what, who, where, when.
Boches continues by explaining that the briefing defines what we’re doing while the creative aspect defines how.
Thinking about a broader concept, a creative brief can also be defined as a relatively short written document used by project managers and/or creative professionals with the goal of guiding the development of creative materials to be used in marketing/communication campaigns.
A well developed and compelling briefing will normally have under two pages in length and is enough to outline the goal of the piece, establish the direction and defines the audience and the message while showing that are the desired results.
If we were to compartmentalize the communication process we’d be likely to position the creative brief at (or before) the design phase. A good briefing clearly states the communication strategy and context in order to ensure all creative deliverables will be produced in alignment with said strategy.
Why should I develop a Creative Brief?
As stated above, the creative brief’s main function serves as a guide written by the person requesting a creative service (the customer) to the responsible for the activity in order to clearly define what’s expected of the deliverables as well as the communication strategy it should be aligned with.
According to this great article by Hubspot:
Great creative briefs have one primary function — to inspire your creative team to come up with the most brilliant and effective communications response to solve a particular problem. While a collection of facts, the brief should put your creative team in the right frame of mind to come up an innovative and creative solution.
Having a well written, compelling briefing is essential for guiding creative professionals towards developing messages and materials that not only fit within the company’s communication strategy but also make it as successful as it could possibly be.
It’s safe to say that normally, under the usual circumstances, developing a creative brief is not a one man job. It takes a small team of professionals from various fields to thoroughly explain the message the creative piece should convey.
The reason why it’s so important to have more than one person from different work areas working on a creative briefing is that it ensures it won’t convey a single person’s point of view and, consequently, be less accurate. It also ensures that the definitions and concepts within are clear enough for the receiving team to understand.
If there’s only one person responsible for writing a creative brief, his or her personal opinions can get into the way and make the briefing less clear and detailed as it should be.
All creative briefs must be developed after a thorough situation and audience analysis. The reason why it’s so important to analyze the context for the campaigns is simple: as cliché as it may sound, knowledge is power and the more knowledge you have, the more specific you can be about what’s expected from the service provider.