How to write a killer creative brief

How to write a killer creative brief

Bend, ORI’m in beautiful Bend, OR this week attending and speaking at Bend WebCAM on “Tools of the Trade.” For the first time in as long as I can remember I had time to actually take in a few sessions instead of manning the Raven booth.

From lots of great options, I chose the “Killer Briefs” workshop taught by Lynette Xanders of Wild Alchemy. This session focused on researching and writing a creative brief – basically, outlined instructions for work to be done by a marketing agency’s creative team.

So why do you need creative briefs in the first place? Creative briefs can help you generate greater efficiency and greater effectiveness, while making your life easier in the process. According to Lynette, a creative brief in its best light is a springboard to ideation, the first creative idea/place to play and the last place we all agreed.

Creative brief format

A creative brief must be both creative and brief. I know what just ran through your mind: game changer. But seriously, your brief cannot exceed one page. That will force you to be able to describe what you’re looking for without controlling your designers’ creative skill. As Lynette said, the idea is not to tell your creative department what to paint or what colors to use, you’re just trying to give them an idea as to where to start.

Creative brief contents

A creative brief should answer the following questions:

  • What is the assignment?
  • Why are we doing it (what do we want to have happen)?
  • Who are we talking to?
  • What do they currently think?
  • What do we want them to think?
  • What’s the ONE thing we need to tell them? This cannot exceed 7 words.
  • Why should they believe us?
  • What are we really selling?
  • What is our brand’s personality?

Creative brief goals

The goal is to bridge the gap between strategic and creative thinking. When you’re thinking about your target audience, you should think beyond demographics as they are the least helpful. Think about the pain you’re trying solve.

A great example Lynette gave was Southwest Airlines. They are selling freedom – the freedom to travel wherever you want, whenever you want, cheaply. Harley Davidson sells rebellion. That’s why you see people walking around in Harley Davidson T-shirts and cars with Harley Davidson stickers on the back window – even though they might not own a motorcycle, they are buying into the message.

A few other tips to help you come up with that ONE thing you’re trying to tell your audience:

  • Seek to inspire, not just to inform
  • Paint a picture of who your audience is (and make them likable)
  • Avoid client-speak (words like “scalable”)

Good luck, and remember to keep it brief!