Obviously not every project will need this level of detail, especially if your designer or agency is familiar with you, but for new products and marketing initiatives that are new or different to the current projects you work on, it is invaluable to work in this way.
While it takes a bit of time to develop a solid creative brief, it’ll be well worth it to help ensure the deliverables you receive align with your expectations and business needs. Not to mention it’ll also make the whole process smoother and more efficient, and save you money in the long run. So, before you start working on the creative brief, take time to carefully think through your project and objectives.
When it comes to format, the brief can be created in a in whatever way suits you: Word document, PowerPoint presentation, PDF, Google document, or Google presentation. While you can use the same template each time, you’ll want to create a new brief for every project, and make sure you’ve covered and thought through all of the critical details each time.
While it’s a good idea to go into detail, keep in mind that you don’t want to go into so much detail that your brief becomes overwhelming. Make it informative but digestible.
It’s also important to note that a major project shouldn’t start until both you and the creative team have discussed and reached an understanding on everything outlined in the brief. It’s a good idea to have a kick-off meeting or chat over the phone to go over the brief and discuss any questions or issues.
Now let’s dive into a 10 key pieces of information your creative brief needs to include and questions it should answer.
1. Describe your company
The supplier may already be familiar with your company if you’ve not worked with them before, but if this section provides an invaluable insight rather than trying to dig around blindly on your website which may not always be bang on about who you are, and what you do. Provide context and background information on your company to help the designer or creative team get a better understanding of your business. Who are you and what services and/or products do you offer? Include relevant inks to your website and any other background material that might be helpful.
2. Summarize the project
What is the project? And why do you need it? Do you need a corporate identity for your new company? Are you refreshing your company’s social pages for a new season? Describe exactly what the project is, what it entails, and why you’re doing it.
3. Explain your objectives
This is probably the most important part of the brief, and it’s essential that you think through your strategy and objectives completely before you start. Why do you need this project? What are you hoping to achieve with it? What are your goals? Is there a problem you’re trying to solve? How will you measure success? For example, if you’re developing an eBook, you might measure success by the number of downloads. These details will help the designer understand your goals and come up with solutions that address them.
4. Define your target audience
Who’s your customer? Who are you trying to reach with this project or campaign? Share demographic information about who they are and any behavioural insights you may have on them.
5. Outline the deliverables you need
Do you need a one-page brochure? 10 banner ads? A logo maximised for print, for the web, or for both? Be sure to include the file formats you need – i.e., JPG, PNG, PSD .eps, and any other important details needed to deliver the right assets.
6. Identify your competition
Who are your competitors? You may want to include an overview of the competitive landscape and any trends or market conditions impacting your industry. For this project, what are your competitors doing as a point of comparison and as a point of differentiation? For example, if you’re refreshing your logo, what types of logos and colours do your competitors use? These details can greatly help inform the direction the designer will go in (they’ll do additional research as well). You can also include a few examples of designs you like or don’t like.
7. Include details on the tone, message, and style
The style and tone should be consistent with your brand and also what the project is, what you’re trying to achieve, and what action you want your customers to take. To help inform the messaging and ensure it aligns with your objectives, be sure to include your strategic positioning and the key messages that need to be addressed. For example, if you’re creating a landing page for a contest, you’d probably want the messaging and design to be lively and fun to inspire people to enter. If you’re developing an annual report, you’d want something that looks and sounds more formal and professional to instil trust and confidence. If you have a brand style guide or examples of past campaigns or related projects, be sure to share them with your designer. And also provide any other factors or requirements that might affect the creative direction.
8. Provide the deadline
If you have a deadline in mind for your project, include it in the brief. During your kick-off meeting or initial conversations with your designer, make sure to discuss the deadline and agree a completion date. It’s also a good idea to talk about the overall creative process and discuss if edits and how many rounds of them are possible and whether or not they’re included if it’s a fixed-price contract.
9. Specify your budget
If you have a set budget for the project (which is often the case), include it in the brief and discuss it with your designer. If the designer’s estimate exceeds your budget, talk it over and agree upon realistic expectations, deliverables, and project costs before getting started.
10. List the key stakeholders
If other people on your team or within your organisation need to be included in the review process, provide their contact information. You can also include how you’d like to receive deliverables and provide feedback. At the Agency we use Basecamp project management software which makes it easy incredibly easy to communicate and share files to keep everyone involved in the loop.
By thinking through and elaborating on these 10 key aspects of your business and project, you’ll be able to produce a creative brief that’s not only thorough but also effective. With a solid creative brief in hand, you’ll help the designer deliver great results and ensure your project delivers the results your business needs.