Every creative team faces the same challenge of doing excellent work under the most rigorous of deadlines, using whatever resources are at hand. But one effective tool that they use to make sense of all the incoming jobs is the creative brief. In fact, some creatives say that a complete brief is the single most important indicator of whether a project will be successful.
Advertising pioneer, strategist, and author Jon Steel wrote in his 2008 book Truth, Lies and Advertising, "Different creative people will argue about the relative importance of this briefing process, although most will tend to agree that if a brief is informative, well argued, and insightful, then their chances of creating better advertising are increased and the process of doing so is made considerably easier."
The creative brief is a document that is typically filled out by your account manager or traffic manager after a face-to-face discussion with the client. How should you structure it so that all involved get the info they need to begin work?
We've laid out all the elements of truly effective creative brief template that you can customize to your needs.
Why Do You Need a Creative Brief Template?
Firstly, the goal of any creative brief is to inform the team about all the details of the work you’re being asked to do. Thus it should contain, at the bare minimum, three things: project scope (which outlines both tone and execution), context (especially useful if the work is part of a greater campaign), and a timeline.
But secondly, the creative brief should also inspire the team. It should synthesize all the information from the customer and from consumer research, and distill it into an idea or a direction that creates a sense of the possibilities. Jon Steel writes in his book that, "it is at the same time an exercise in synthesis and expansiveness."
This creative brief template we put together is meant to be a guide so your team can build its own later on, based on your needs and circumstances. We're not saying you should use this template as-is — keep the useful elements and discard the rest.
The Elements of Your Creative Brief Template
1. Contact Details
As with any work intake form, specify who the client is, and list email addresses, phone numbers, etc. for the contact person(s) in that company. Do the same for your internal team.
2. Creative Brief Template Overview
This section gives you the chance to talk about the request from a high level. What is this job about? Paint a picture for your team that answers the who, what, and where of the project. Provide enough context so that your team comprehends where this job fits in the big picture.
Some questions to answer: What is the client's need? Are there opportunities or problems in the market that will affect this job?
3. The Objectives
Here's where you summarize the goals of this job. What does the client want to achieve? If it's a customer-facing deliverable, what action do you want the end user to take? Or what do you want them to feel or think?
Watch the 1:42 video below for some tips on writing out the objectives in a creative brief.
4. The Audience Profile
This section tackles the target audience. If you build a complete picture of the audience that you must persuade, then your creative team can do a better job of tailoring their work to the audience's needs and concerns.
Some questions to answer: Who are they and where do they live or work? How will they be reached? What issues concern them?
5. The Execution Specifics
Here's where the main meat of the creative brief lies. This section should hold all the execution details about the deliverable and how you communicate your message, including:
- Tone: What is the tone of your written copy and your message? What adjectives describe the feeling or approach? What do these adjectives mean to the customer?
- Message: What are you saying with this job? Does messaging need to be developed? What will the audience remember at the end? What similar messages are competitors using?
- Visuals: How will the visuals convey the message? Is there a certain visual style the client wants? Are there visuals in place already or must they be created?
- Other details: list all deliverables and their formats/measurements.
- Timeline, schedule, and budget: When do things need to be done? How much will it cost?
We put together a downloadable creative brief template (PDF) that you can use to get started. Enter your email below to grab a copy.
What the Creative Brief Template Can (and Can't) Do
One thing to keep in mind: no matter how you structure your creative brief, the end result will be like a checklist in how it outlines the information and objectives of a campaign. However, never underestimate the value of a comprehensive, well-thought out creative brief — it can guide the work in a specific direction, inform the team about the details of audience, client, and pain points, and might even be able to inspire the team to generate some groundbreaking ideas.
Jeff Goodby, co-chairman and partner at advertising agency GS&P, once likened the creative brief to a fisherman's guide — that person who takes you to the best place to fish, and even provides you with ideas on which bait and lures to use. He won't fish for you, but he provides the fisherman (the creative talent) with the information and inspiration to be successful.
Build Your Creative Brief With Wrike Requests
While the template we suggest above is perfectly usable as a PDF, you can further streamline the way you accept incoming work requests and how you manage all ongoing creative jobs.
Wrike is a campaign management tool used by many creatives and marketers to manage the rhythm and organization of all creative work — from intake to execution and delivery. And Wrike Requests allows you to specify all the details you need for your creative brief.