How-To: Writing an Effective Creative Brief

Hummingbird CreativeBranding & Creative

start your creative projects off on the right foot

Starting a new creative project for your company can seem like a daunting task. There’s so much you need to get organized and in place for your team (internal or external) before work can being. If you’re planning to start a new project, a creative brief can be a useful tool to help you organize your goals for the project and allow you to communicate more effectively with prospective designers, writers and other consultants who may be working with you to implement the project. A meeting may feel like it’s enough, but notes can misplaced, directives can be missed and more to hinder communication. A creative brief can enable you and your team to focus more clearly on the project at hand. A well-written creative brief, coupled with timely meetings, will result in a completed project that meets your goals.

Your creative brief should include 10 elements to be effective.

company background

Your company background may include historical highlights, mission, vision and core values– the more information to reference, the better. This will help your team know where you’ve been so they can understand where you company is going.

competitive advantages

Evaluate your brand in relation to your competitors. What makes you unique? What is your company’s standing in its industry? How do you provide value to clients?

analysis of the situation

What instigated the need for this project? Why is this project necessary? Are you introducing a new product; is your company changing focus; or are you trying to gain general awareness?

project objectives

What are the objectives of the project? What are the key marketing messages? What do you want to convey through this project? Is there a financial goal for the project (e.g. increase sales by 10%) to be met?

target audience

Who is the company’s overall target audience? Who are you specifically trying to reach with this project? For multiple targets, rank them in terms of importance. Are there any unique qualities of these target audiences? What is your geographic target market?

brand analysis

What is your current image in the marketplace? How do you want prospects to perceive you? What image do you want to convey through this project? Are there any graphic or verbal brand messages that need to be prominent?

budget

What is your ballpark budget for this project? Build in some flexibility and provide a range so the project can be designed and implemented with the budget in mind.

schedule and deadlines

Are there any absolute deadlines that must be met with this project? Is there a sequence of projects that must happen by a certain target date?

design medium

State any preferences you have in terms of size, design, medium for the project. With so many advertising avenues open– social media, digital, traditional and more– knowing all the information about the medium can help your creative team get the job done right the first time.

constraints

Are there any other parameters for the project? Are there any technical guidelines or standards that need to be met? What company information is absolutely required?

Companies in the healthcare industry may have very specific requirements they have to fulfill in their marketing pieces. Real estate may have special disclaimers they need to include in all materials. Make sure to include a note about these so your creative team is fully aware of your needs.

If you are interviewing multiple companies to help implement a creative project, the creative brief will help you give each prospective vendor the same requirements, so you can be certain they are all quoting to the same specifications. If you already work with an agency, the creative brief is a useful tool to explain the project’s objectives and give your creative team an outline of your requirements they can reference as they work on your project. For most agencies, the creative brief is a useful tool to help any project stay on schedule and on budget. Many agencies write their own creative briefs if one is not provided by the client; however, a client’s participation in writing the creative brief helps ensure everyone is on the same page. Additionally, the creative brief helps to keep meetings about the project on target and is a good tool to go back to in the case of creative or technical disagreements. The brief is often utilized for guidance and as a reminder of the initial purpose of the project.


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