The Ins and Outs of a Creative Brief

Advertising agencies work on projects for clients, and with every project comes the creative brief.  While creative briefs may not be the most flashy or exciting part of every project, they are still very important. The time, thought and effort that goes into one is vital, as the creative brief is the road map for the project, and without a clear brief, the project can go haywire real fast.

I’m not going to tell you what to put in a creative brief because every agency has its own version.  In reality, all briefs have one main goal in common: clearly communicate the who, what, when, where and why of the project.  The tricky part is figuring out how to best communicate the project on paper to the team.  Here are three major things to consider when writing a creative brief.

1. Communicate the Single Main Idea

The single main idea is the most important element of the creative brief. It is the core message the audience should take away from the project. The main idea should correlate with the overall assignment, as it dictates the project’s direction.  Determining the single main idea is harder than it sounds. Many people confuse the main idea with the tactic, like saying, “Brand needs to create a mobile app to gain customer’s attention.” Instead the main idea should be something like, “Brand is the best in the industry and will improve customer’s problems. 

2. Don't worry about length

In school every teacher was adamant about creative briefs being concise and direct. This also meant any creative brief could not be more than a page or two long. This simply isn’t reasonable or realistic. As long as the content is detailed and straight forward, it does not matter how long the brief is.  It’s also better to insure everything is clearly laid out, not matter the length, to make sure the team doesn’t come back with more questions than you can answer.

3. Wording is Everything

When writing a creative brief it is important to be strategic and choose your words wisely.  A single word choice can lead one team member to interpret something one way, while someone else interprets it entirely differently.  This can lead to confusion for anything from direction and creative to implementation and timing.  Even something as simple as saying, “Include digital in the campaign,” can be confusing. Does that mean digital media, digital photography, digital advertising? This list and questions can go on and on!

The creative brief may not be the most exciting part of any advertising project, but it is still important. A poor creative brief can ruin an entire project, while a little time and thought can clearly layout the roadmap for an overall great project.