Creative Brief 101: What They Are and Why You Need One

Are your team’s creative juices flowing? If not, maybe it’s time to consider a creative brief. Creative briefs are essential for any marketing or advertising project, big or small. They help to ensure that everyone on the team is on the same page, and they can be a great source of inspiration.

When it comes to drafting a creative brief, there is no one-size-fits-all template. But there are a few core elements that should always be included.

This article covers the what, why, and how of creating effective and motivating creative briefs. Keep reading for a step-by-step guide to help your team produce their best work yet.

What is a creative brief?

A creative brief is a document that outlines the key information for a marketing, advertising, or design project. Any member of the creative team should be able to reference the creative brief and quickly understand the trajectory of the project.

The one-to-two-page summary typically includes the following:

  • Background
  • Goals
  • Deliverables
  • Messaging
  • Calls to action
  • Target audience
  • Timeline
  • Budget

Why bother with a creative brief?

Although creative briefs take time and effort to create, the juice is worth the squeeze. Here are three of the main benefits of drafting a brief for your team:

Create alignment

The best creative briefs act as a North Star that keeps a project in sync. By outlining the objectives and expectations upfront, team members can execute confidently without constant check-ins. This allows copywriters, designers, and other creatives to work in parallel and move the project forward.

Avoid scope creep

With deliverables, timelines, and budgets all laid out in the creative brief, teams can prevent the costly delays and revisions associated with scope creep. Creative briefs provide a clear roadmap for what needs to be done and when, making it easier to course correct if the project starts to veer off track.

Inspire creativity

A successful creative brief will do more than just keep a project organized; it will also inspire your team to solve a problem. Whether you are trying to reach a new audience, increase brand awareness, or sell more products, the creative brief should remove all barriers and allow your team to focus on generating new ideas.

How to write an inspiring creative brief

To create excitement around a project, write a brief that helps your team understand and embrace the challenge at hand. Answer the following questions to provide parameters for their creativity, and then let their talents shine.

1) Who are we?

To craft a message that resonates, your team needs to appreciate the business and what it stands for. Summarize the company’s core values, mission, and offering in a way that will help them connect with the brand identity. Try to avoid jargon and long-winded explanations; the goal is to distill the essence of the company down to a few sentences.

Next, detail the business’ voice and attitude. Is it quirky or traditional? Formal or conversational? Creative or scientific? The more specific you can be, the better. And if you have an existing marketing deck or style guide, include that as well.

2) What are we doing?

Now it’s time to get into the nitty-gritty of the project. Provide an overview of the campaign’s background, objectives, challenges, and expected outcome. This will give your team perspective on the problem they are solving and what goals you hope to achieve.

To offer additional context, be sure to include a list of deliverables. This might include website copy, social media posts, email marketing content, or product packaging. Whatever the big idea is, your team should recognize what is being asked of them and how their work will be used.

3) Who are we speaking to?

No matter what type of content you are creating, it needs to be targeted at a specific audience. The more detailed your segmentation, the more effective your messaging will be.

Potential customers can be divided based on:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Interests
  • Lifestyle
  • Marital status
  • Income
  • Geography
  • And more

Once you’ve established who you are trying to reach, your creative team will be tasked with positioning the brand. Jot down any expectations you have on the voice, style, and approach that should be taken. If there is already an established relationship with the customer, mention that as well.

4) Where will we reach them?

With the audience in mind, think about where they consume content and how your team can best reach them. If the deliverables include social media posts, identify which platforms will be used. If you’re planning a website overhaul, consider how people will find the new site. Will you be running ads? If so, where will they appear?

Determining these communication channels early on will guide the direction of the project and ensure that your team is creating relevant content. The chosen social media platform, for example, might dictate which type of media is created. This context is necessary for your team to tailor their work and produce the most impactful results.

5) What does the landscape look like?

Your team should also be aware of the competition and what other companies are doing in your industry. Competitive analysis will help identify areas where your business can differentiate itself. This will also give your team a better understanding of what has been successful in the past and what might be worth trying.

To complete the picture, include any relevant industry news or trends that might be worth considering. Creative teams need to stay on top of current events to ensure that their work is relevant and timely.

6) Why now?

Put yourself in the customer’s shoes and think about why they should act now. What is the benefit or reason that they might want to engage with your brand? Is there an urgency to the ask?  If not, what may compel them to take action anyway?

Creative teams can use these insights to craft messaging that speaks to the customer’s exact needs. Outline the unique value proposition that your company offers and how it can be leveraged in the current market. This key message will inform the communication strategy and help shape the creative direction.

7) What do we want them to do?

This is perhaps the most important question of all. Creative work is ultimately judged by its ability to drive results, so it’s essential to establish a clear call to action.

What do you want your audience to do after consuming the content? Make a purchase? Visit the website? Share with their network? Whatever the ask might be, make sure that it is realistic and measurable. This ultimate goal will dictate the direction of the entire project and help your team stay focused on what matters most.

8) How is success defined?

To gauge the success of a creative project, establish KPIs (key performance indicators) based on the campaign’s calls to action. These could be sales numbers, web traffic, social media engagement, or something else entirely.

Be as specific as possible when defining success metrics. This will give your team a clear goal to strive for and help you evaluate the performance of the project once it’s complete.

9) Share the creative brief

With the previous eight questions answered, you now have a well-rounded creative brief that gives your team the information they need to get started. Next, share the document with all relevant parties and ensure that everyone is on the same page.

Take this opportunity to gather any feedback or questions that might be used to improve the brief. Make changes as needed and then finalize the document before moving ahead with the project.

Final thoughts

And with that, you’re ready to start creating! A well-crafted creative brief will provide the parameters your team needs to produce at the highest levels. The answers you drafted will allow the creative team to step into the customer’s shoes, understand their pain points, and deliver an on-brand solution.

With a little bit of upfront work, you can prevent confusion or creative blockages down the road. So take the time to write a comprehensive brief before moving ahead with your next project. Your team will thank you for it, and your results will speak for themselves!

Guest Author: Daniel Anderson is a marketing expert who writes about entrepreneurship, business, and personal finance. Learn how to launch a side hustle, scale through digital marketing, and plan for financial freedom with his step-by-step guides at

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