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Digital Marketing 9 min read

What Is a Creative Brief, and How Do You Write One?

Sarah Edwards photo

Written by Sarah Edwards

Content Writer @ Galactic Fed

Dallin Porter photo

Expert reviewed by Dallin Porter

Marketing Director @ Galactic Fed

Published 11 Jan 2023

How do you launch a major marketing project in a way that ensures everyone involved is working toward the same goals? How do you get stakeholders, project managers, content creators, and others on the same page while maintaining scope?

The easiest way to fulfill all these requirements — even in the most involved project — is by utilizing a creative brief. But you may not know how to write a creative brief. You may even be wondering, what is a creative brief? 

These are important concepts that you must understand. Once you make it standard practice to draft briefs for your campaigns, you will find that they run much more efficiently.

What Is a Creative Brief?

A creative brief is a document that details the key components of a marketing strategy, advertising campaign, or design project. Marketing teams will often draft these helpful marketing tools to ensure that all participants are on the same page and share the same vision. 

Creative briefs will vary in style and content but will address most of the following:

  • Project goals
  • Potential roadblocks
  • Messaging
  • Target demographics
  • Platforms
  • Key team members

Marketing consultants will also use briefs to pitch their campaign ideas to prospective clients, making them helpful tools for both internal and external purposes.

Why Should You Learn How to Write a Creative Brief?

Creative briefs can keep a campaign on track by clearly setting expectations and creating a detailed framework that prevents scope creep.

However, if you’ve dealt with the frustration of bloated project methodologies that only slow down production, a brief may seem like just another deliverable that doesn’t really add value. Therefore, it’s important to understand what makes a good brief and how to write creative briefs that work for your campaigns.

The Elements of a Winning Creative Brief

Most briefs will share the following elements and framework, making this a great starting point when drafting your next brief:

Project or Campaign Name

The name of your project or campaign should be memorable and reflects what your team will be working toward. If it involves a specific product or service, you should also incorporate its name.

Why is this so important? It’s not just fluff; centering stakeholders around a common name promotes collaboration and cooperation. Additionally, if you don’t come up with a name yourself, you’ll soon find that people will create their own names for the project, and they may not be flattering or appropriate choices.

Write a Brand or Project Summary

Don’t fall into the common trap of skipping the project summary. This is an important element to include for both internal projects and agency campaigns. 

The purpose of the summary is to contextualize the campaign by providing some background information and connecting the campaign to the brand. Think about your company’s brand and organizational goals, then articulate how the project goals and messaging will align with those.

Identify the Problem/Opportunity and Solution

Every project or campaign is created to solve a problem or take advantage of an opportunity. As such, you must define these elements clearly. This establishes the scope of your campaign, and if a proposed activity doesn’t fit within that scope, it doesn’t belong.

It helps to come up with a concise statement that combines your problem or opportunity with the solution your campaign will provide. You can present this to stakeholders as a quick yet convincing summary of your value proposition.

For team members who will be directly serving the project’s needs, you can get a bit more detailed, writing out the problem or opportunity with a bit more detail and context and creating a lengthier description of the solution. Consider the following:

Problem: Acme Outdoors Inc. is losing ground to competitors successfully engaging the 18–25-year-old demographic on TikTok. Additionally, there are emerging resources for marketing and advertising on the platform.

Solution: The marketing team will create a small proof-of-concept TikTok campaign as part of Acme Outdoor’s spring camping sale. This will include short-format videos demonstrating various fun and humorous camping experiences featuring Acme Outdoor’s team members and external influencers. Followers will be encouraged to duet, stitch, or share using a branded hashtag.

Target Audience Details and Customer Journey

You may have already touched on your target audience while identifying the problem/opportunity and solution. But here, you will go into much more detail. You need to specifically define who you are trying to reach, their demographic, where they spend time online, their values, their pain points, and so on.

Next, identify the point in the sales journey that your campaign will focus on. Will you focus on awareness, lead generation, or conversions? 

Competitive Analysis

Evaluate the competitive landscape that your team will need to navigate. Which of your competitors are in the space right now, and which will likely be in the future? What have they done that has worked, and what have they tried that hasn’t?

Next, make a list of your current advantages. Then, detail how this campaign will make your brand more competitive and give it the edge.

Primary Message

What is your campaign going to communicate to customers? Why will they stop, pay attention, and take action?

You’ll want to frame this with a customer need, desire, or pain point as the focus. This will help ensure you keep the customer’s experience as the central focus.

The Key Customer Benefit

What is the most important, widely experienced benefit your customers will gain if they buy into the product or service that your campaign will feature? Remember that this won’t necessarily be the fanciest or flashiest thing. It’s enough for customers to see their specific pain point solved, and superfluous elements only distract them.

The marketing team may need help dialing this in, so make sure you consult with product designers and stakeholders and then look at relevant data.

Keep in mind that your campaign doesn’t need to focus solely on the key customer benefit, but it should be a top priority.

Voice and Tone

How will you speak to your audience? It’s important to define the right tone and voice, then implement it in every aspect of your content and messaging. Remember that in marketing, these elements aren’t just communicated through written and spoken word — visuals also create an aesthetic that also gives your campaign a tangible voice.

To clarify the voice and ensure everyone understands why you chose it, make sure you explain it. For example, “Our customers over the age of 60 appreciate a reassuring but authoritative tone when money is the key topic.”

Your team may find it challenging if the chosen tone is one you haven’t used before. After all, you want to reach your target audience with a tone they can relate to, but you want to avoid contradicting your overall brand voice, which can seem inauthentic to the people you want to reach. If this is a concern, you can set some parameters to define boundaries you won’t cross when it comes to campaign voice.

Primary Call-to-Action

In the best-case scenario, what is it that you want your customers or prospects to do when they encounter your campaign? Your campaign content will likely offer multiple calls to action, so the one you define in your creative brief should focus on the action that is most important.

Other Things to Consider

Once your brief is complete, you must carefully evaluate it as a finished product. Does it clearly reflect your goals and intentions? Does it benefit the campaign? If it doesn’t align with your expectations, take a closer look at each element. Alter various sections accordingly, or add sections of your own.

Next, it’s time to get it into the hands of your team members and stakeholders. However, this may not be as simple as it seems. You want to give anyone who has a key role in the campaign a copy, but you don’t want to distribute the document too widely. Otherwise, you risk the project getting bogged down with too much input from people who would otherwise not be involved.

Finally, you may notice some patterns emerging after you write a few briefs. At this point, you might consider creating a template to save time and resources during future campaigns.

Improve Efficiency and Effectiveness with Creative Briefs

Scope creep, lack of focus, and poorly defined terms can slow down campaigns and lead to disappointing results. But now that you know how to write creative briefs, take some time to draft a brief at the beginning of every project or campaign to align stakeholders and create a clear vision.

Your creative brief should harmonize with your marketing plan. Whether you need help with a single campaign or your overall strategy, Galactic Fed has experts who can tackle your most challenging projects.

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Sarah Edwards photo

Sarah Edwards

Content Writer @ Galactic Fed