17 Mar How to write a creative brief for your agency
The creative development process in an agency always begins with the creative brief. It’s a great way of organising all the critical information in one place, it also focuses the mind to think about what you really want to achieve with the marketing activity. After all, if you don’t know what you want, how are your agency going to know.
A creative brief is something that the entire team will work from. They’ll understand the project objectives, strategy, target audience and what needs to be delivered and by when. It means that everyone is working on the same page from beginning to end.
The brief shouldn’t have reams of information in it, it should be clear and concise summary of what it is that you want to achieve, and only contain what’s relevant. Make the creative brief informative but digestible.
Let’s look at what information would be helpful for your creative agency and what the creative brief should include along with key questions it should aim to answer.
This area should provide overall context and background information for the project, so that the whole team understand why the project is happening. It should provide information on the brand and company and the reason for the activity. Include relevant key facts and market trends that would be useful. Don’t assume that people know everything, think if someone that’s never worked on your brand before is picking this creative brief up, what would they need to know.
State the requirements of this particular creative brief. What is the project? What is the output? Are you looking a new brand identity? Is this campaign concepts for Christmas? Are you launching a new product in retail? Or is it a social media and digital advertising campaign? Describe what the project is and what you are expecting to be delivered.
This and the proposition are probably the most important part of the brief. Think about your commercial, business and marketing objectives so that they all relate. What is it that you’re trying to achieve from this marketing activity? What will success look like and how are you going to measure it?
Who are we talking to with this campaign? Share any basic demographic information (age, gender, geography), attitudes, emotional needs and behavioural insights that you have on them. Any customer pain points and motivations would also be useful. If you have detailed buyer personas you could also include these.
This is often the most difficult part to write of a brief. Think about this as the single most important thing that you need to communicate. If you could only tell the customer one thing, what would that one thing be? Ideally this should be one sentence, it should not contain an ‘and’ or a ‘with’ because it should be single minded. Try to make it as succinct as possible. If you are struggling, your creative agency will always help with this.
What is the support for this message?
Why should they believe the proposition statement? How is it unique? List these points in order of priority. These points should support the overarching proposition and can form key messages that you’d like to communicate as part of the campaign.
How do we want the target audience to react or feel as a result of this marketing activity? What do we want to happen? This should link back to our marketing objectives that we’ve written earlier on in the creative brief. For example, we may want their attitudes about our product to have changed, or we want them to go to our website or visit our store to find out more. What action are we looking for our customer to take?
Brand Personality / Tone of Voice
The tone of voice should be consistent across your marketing materials, but it should also align with your objectives. If you have brand guidelines, include this in the appendix but it’s helpful to describe your usual tone of voice and provide any other factors that will provide creative direction. For example, if you’re launching a new product, you’ll want it to feel exciting and inspiring, however if this is a recruitment advert or an annual report, you’ll want to be more formal and professional.
It’s always useful to share anything else that may need to be considered as part of this communication. This could be something that a competitor is doing, or something that has been done in the past and has worked well or not so well. Don’t feel the need to write something here but do include if you think it would be useful.
This should list anything that must be included, for example if this is a press ad it may need your logo, URL and telephone number but if it’s a digital display advert it may need your logo and a strong call to action button. Do you need to include any legal wording? This can be really important for layout purposes or even timings for a video, TVC or radio advert. This should all be included up front within the creative brief so that it’s considered at this stage of creative development.
If you have a set budget of fixed fee that you need to work to you should specify this. Alternatively, if you have a budget range and you’re happy with sharing with your creative agency it’s always a useful guide. If you don’t have a creative budget, then specify that you’d like a quote or estimate from your creative agency. Any agency worth their salt should be providing this anyway and not starting the work until the budget has been approved.
Any critical timings that you have should be included within the brief. You may have a delivery date to get something to media or you may have a launch or live date that you’re trying to achieve. If you also have any internal presentation deadlines (particularly if you need to go through brand and legal sign offs) then it’s really useful to include this also. Again, your creative agency can then work backwards from the final date and give you a timing plan this will outline the overall creative process, along with how many rounds of amends can be achieved and when the critical sign off dates are.
Image Danielle Macinnes for Unsplash