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Creative Briefs: A Brief (And Creative) Guide For Your Marketing Campaign


Before embarking on a strategic marketing campaign, it’s important to begin with a creative brief. The brief ensures your creative team can effectively execute the deliverables required. A creative brief should be short — no more than two pages — and full of information, so everyone is operating within the same parameters. 

You can use a creative brief for a larger project, such as a website launch or redesign, or for smaller projects such as photo or video shoots, ad copywriting, content marketing projects that may include blogs or landing pages, even graphic design work, such as ad creative. 

What Is a Creative Brief?

A creative brief is a summary of all the factors and elements that go into your marketing campaign. It defines the goals of the project, the target audience, and the exact deliverables. The brief should be easy for your creative department, as well as any stakeholders, to skim and understand exactly what is intended, what the content should accomplish, and what it should include. 

A creative brief doesn’t need to go into the weeds on your brand, detailing logo colors, fonts, or design style. Leave that information for your brand guide. Instead, a creative brief should focus on the specifics of a single marketing project. 

Benefits of a Creative Brief

A creative brief ensures that everyone is on the same page when it comes to the deliverables required. If you are working with outside contractors to design the creative, it can help them understand your company better. 

The creative brief gives everyone on your team — including those in your marketing department and those involved in other aspects of the campaign, such as product development — a chance to brainstorm, share ideas, and refine the idea behind the content to produce superior creative assets. 

A well-planned creative brief can be considered a shortcut to marketing excellence since it gives your creative team specific guidelines for content creation. By clearly outlining deliverables, it can also help reduce scope creep. Some creative briefs may include timelines that can further help your project stay on track. 

Elements of a Creative Brief

Although the parts of a creative brief may vary based on the project, most include:

  • A title
  • The project’s goal or objective
  • A description of the target audience
  • A summary of the benefits of whatever you’re marketing
  • Insight into your competitors
  • The overall tone and voice for the project
  • A distribution plan and a list of the final deliverables

Plugging each of these elements into your brief makes it easy to steer your creative team down the right path for your campaign. 

Defining the Goal of Your Marketing Campaign

Whether you’re looking to increase brand recognition, drive clicks to your website, or increase revenue, your content will take on a different flavor and tone depending on your goals. Therefore, it’s crucial to outline goals for a campaign before completing the rest of your creative brief.

This may include actionable insights and measurable statistics. It can also describe exactly what you intend to promote through the campaign. 

Pinpointing Your Target Audience

You can use buyer personas to describe the group or groups this campaign should reach. Be clear and specific, especially if you’re working with people outside your organization to craft the creative since most companies have multiple target audiences or demographics. 

Exploring Competitors

Every creative brief should include a competitive analysis. Have your competitors done similar campaigns? What did you like or dislike about the angle they deployed? What sets your offering — and your campaign — apart from theirs? 

Describing the Tone and Voice of Your Campaign

As you can see, each aspect of your creative brief builds on the one before it. Once you know your audience and the goal of the campaign, you can determine the tone or overall voice you want to use within the creative. If you’re putting together a brief for a highly visual campaign, such as a video or a photoshoot, you’ll want to describe the overall look and feel this creative content should have. 

Outlining the Benefits and Creating the Key Message

Your creative brief can have many steps, but the most important is outlining the benefits of your offering and crafting the key message. Spend as much time as you need on this aspect, and you’ll make it easier for the creative team to deliver exactly what you want for the campaign. 

Your key message should reflect the voice and tone you’ve decided on, and resonate with your target audience, which will help you meet the goal of the campaign. Now’s the time to really get creative, brainstorm ideas, refine, and rewrite until you have a plan that project stakeholders love. 

Devising a Distribution Plan

To give your creative team a clear view of the project’s scope, your creative brief should outline where the content will be distributed. The medium often drives the message and format. 

Listing the Deliverables

Finally, to avoid scope creep and confusion, your brief should conclude with a clear and simple list of the deliverables. Is your team writing three related blog posts of 500 to 800 words each? Are they creating social media assets? Visual ads? Videos? Whatever it is, define the scope and quantity. 

Additional Elements of Your Creative Brief

If you’re working with outside contractors on your marketing or ad creative, you’ll want to share even more details about your company and its brand. You want to be sure your creative team understands everything about your company, including its unique selling proposition, broad target audience, and mission and vision. 

You may also want to include a bit about the project, including why you chose this specific campaign. And you can share any insights into past campaigns that were successful, what made them work, and what you’d like to do the same or differently in this campaign. Keep your brand pillars in mind when you create this section, to give in-house stakeholders and your freelance creative team the information they need to make sure your messaging is on-brand. 

How an Agency Can Help You Craft Your Creative Brief

Writing a creative brief takes time, thought and a well-organized process. But you’ll find that most of the heavy lifting for your marketing campaign is done once your brief is completed, revised, and in the hands of your team. 

A creative consultancy like Hawke Media can help you from start to finish with every aspect of your marketing campaign, from helping your team create the brief to executing the deliverables. Contact us today for your free consultation

Dawn Allcot is a full-time freelance writer and content marketing specialist who frequently covers marketing, eCommerce, finance, real estate, and technology. She is also the owner and founder of GeekTravelGuide.net, a travel and lifestyle website. 


HubSpot.com — How to Write a Creative Brief in 11 Simple Steps

SkillShareBlog.com — Guide: How to Write a Creative Brief

Special thanks to our friends at HawkeMedia for their insights on this topic.
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