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How To Create An Effective Creative Brief Template

Category: B2B News
How to create an effective creative brief template?
To create an effective brief template you should:
  • Start with a one- to two-page document spelling out the “what” and the “why.”
  • Avoid being prescriptive at all cost.
  • Leave the “how” for your creative team to figure out.
  • Encourage brevity when going about the product, the market and the customers.
  • Remind them to write in a concise and clear manner.

There’s a high-profit project in the pipeline and everyone is excited to commence work. You have a great team of supremely creative individuals who you are confident to be capable of conjuring up the edgiest ideas imaginable.

But the project fails in the end. What could have gone wrong?

Before you charge at your team members or beat yourself up for that big flop, you might want to take a step back and look at your creative brief—or the lack of it.

In this article, we’ll look at the critical elements of a creative brief. If you are a junior team member looking to be considered for a product manager position, you will find the treatment of copywriting creative brief and the elements of a creative brief sits well with the position. We’ll also present a few advertising creative brief examples to give you a concrete foothold of what the job truly requires. There will be a take on some project management tools to help you handle your job better.

effective creative brief

There’s a great divide between creative agencies and clients when it comes to the project intake critical to generating creative briefs. In particular, while 58% of clients believed they have provided clear project inputs to the creative agencies, only 27% of agencies concur with their clients. Most of the problem stems from how the client’s marketers, who typically make up the real client link to the creative agency, often shoot for thorough coverage of their brands rather than focus on single one first. The result is a final project that says very little to the target audience.

The problem is exacerbated by how difficult it can be to obtain the necessary product briefing from their clients.  In fact, inMotionNow reports that as much as 67% of creative teams see their clients as difficult to work with in terms of providing the project input required just to start their jobs.

Trends Significantly Impacting Creative Output

What will have the most impact on creative output in the upcoming years?

Artificial Intelligence

%

Advances in advertising formats (i.e. mobile, VR/AR, video)

%

Changing technology tools for creatives

%

Experiential marketing

%

Influencer marketing

%

Additional workload arising from the need for customization

%

Increasing emphasis and reliance on data, analytics or predictive algorithms

%

Social media usage in advertising

%

Source: MarketingCharts.com

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Add in the fact that creative teams spend as much as 20% of their time on administrative tasks while serving many masters and you can imagine how stressful the work life of a creative really is, further complicating the timely completion of creative projects.

Is for this reason that aside from its renowned project management tool, Wrike has come up with its dynamic request forms to help creatives communicate better with their clients for those all-important project details.

What a creative brief should be to you

As an account manager or a product manager, the creative brief is your most important tool.

A creative brief is a guide given to a team that will perform a creative service. It is the cornerstone of a successful creative project. Liken it to a building’s foundation, which, although hidden underground and oftentimes undervalued, holds up and holds together the building above it. Many people with different creative leanings will be working on your project, and your creative brief should be instrumental in holding the team together toward achieving the desired outcome.

A creative brief should function as a compass that points true north. It should provide a clear vision and direction to your team. It should also be able to give parameters that will check whether everyone is on board and whether other factors such as budget, time, and manpower are aligned with client expectations. Most importantly, it should contain clear indications that you have successfully made it to your destination.

Yes, this usually 1- or 2-page document can and should do all that.

A creative brief should be accessible all the time to all your team members wherever they are. This is where Wrike proves to be useful as a central depository of project documents.

Wrike’s request form template is an accessible project resource for all team members

What a creative brief should not be

While there are many articles on the Internet telling you what a good creative brief is, it is equally important to know what a creative brief is not.

First, a creative brief is not a list of instructions to give to your team. It should not be prescriptive. This will handcuff your team into doing exactly what is enumerated instead of using their creativity to achieve a vision. Give your team the “what” and the “why” and let them figure out the “how.”

A creative brief is not an essay. While there is a tendency might be to let the team know as much about the brand and you may go for the very thorough job memo, it is actually counter-productive. A creative brief should be exactly that – focused and brief, but unambiguous.

A creative brief should never ever be created by a junior team member. Delegating this to junior team members may be the most disastrous and costly mistake you will make, as junior members are not trained to do creative briefs. Remember, you as the product manager have the experience, practice, and faculties to convert the client’s vision into digestible interpretations. While you are the gatekeeper of what goes into the finalized creative brief, this document remains the collaborative product of the team. Wrike is the perfect collaboration platform that allows your team members to contribute their recommendations, which you can condense later on.

If you want to know more about the features you can easily sign up for Wrike free trial here.

Characteristics of an effective creative template brief

Clarity

Clarity should begin with you. If you are not clear with what the client wants, then expect the project to go downhill from the very start. There is much preparation and work needed even before you can start on a copywriting creative brief. It is much time- and cost-effective to spend enough time to comprehensively understand the project and the client’s vision than to put out the fire later on. This means that you will have to call, email, and even meet with the client many times to get as much information as needed until you are completely certain of what the client wants. Grill the client if you need to. Sometimes, you need to use the product or services – as a user, not an advertiser – to get a first-hand experience of the client’s offerings. It is your job to turn this experience into selling points that will strengthen your client’s vision.

Understanding the client’s business, products, services, and expectations is just half of the work. You still need to put your interpretation into words.

But so much can be lost in translation. A sure test that you have clearly understood what the client wants is to get the client to sign off on your creative brief. If the client disagrees with your creative brief, definitely he will disagree with the final output.

A customized Kanban creative brief dashboard in Wrike provides a quick overview of projects and tasks

Conciseness

A creative brief should stretch to two pages at most. But however simple it may look, a lot of digging and immense effort are needed behind the scenes before an effective creative brief gets generated. While you are responsible for generating the brief itself, you will need input from other stakeholders. You need to negotiate with your finance team to check on the feasibility of the project in terms of budget. Your marketing team will be able to provide you with target customer data and competitor details, as well as propose strong promotion strategies. Definitely, you will be consulting with your creative team to analyze the viability of the project with regard to time and resources.

All this research will result in an abundance of information about the project. An effective creative brief should be able to condense all those extracted details, slash out immaterial information, and present only the main vital points. Your creative team will not appreciate it if you hand over a ten-page creative brief.

Communicates

While every creative brief is different, it performs the vital task of communicating information from the client through you and ultimately to its end user – your creative team. It should prevent and solve any misunderstanding at the onset of the project.

For this reason, it is essential that a creative brief uses language that your designers can easily understand. This means that it should not contain any jargon, padding words, technical vocabulary, or ambiguous ideas. A creative brief’s purpose is not to impress your team with your wealth of words. If there is even a slight indication that your creative team does not get the direction of the creative project, then it is high time to have a relook at your brief.

These characteristics can be easily achieved with the aid of Wrike. One of the most powerful collaboration tools around, the application comes with a Live Editor feature that allows team members to update documents and save their changes simultaneously. This, in turn, allows you to modify the creative brief immediately.

If your team members need help in putting down thoughts at speed and the least amount of errors, then they couldn’t do any better than putting to task some of the best writing enhancements solutions available in the market.

Almost in the same category but more focused on grammar, spelling and punctuation errors are the grammar checker tools that could provide some added help to their writing tasks.

For design considerations, the graphic artists in your team can look up these graphic design tools to help them convert ideas into stunning images at speed.

What should a highly effective brief template contain?

As Will Burns—founder and current CEO of Ideasicle—puts it, “A creative brief is the most sacred of all sacred ad documents.” With a few advertising creative brief examples, we’ll see why this is so.

To make the most out of your creative brief, ensure that you cover these elements of a creative brief.

The Business

Background information of the client’s company is useful to your creative team, as this will give them a better understanding of the client’s business and how it wants to be represented in the creative campaign. The brief should clearly state what the company’s offerings are and its brand perception. A link to the company’s website is helpful in giving the creative team a springboard for the conceptualization of the creative campaign.

The Product

The product is the core of the creative campaign. All the creative efforts, as well as aspects of the creative campaign, such as visuals, are centered around it. Identifying the product will help the team identify the timeline and budget of the whole creative campaign.

How does the client want its product to be built up? Certainly, no business wants its offerings to be ranked second place in a world of similar competitors. As the account or product manager, never be content with a brief that will put the client’s offerings to be just on par with competitors or to be just in the vogue.

That is why USPs, or unique selling propositions, are very crucial. This is what distinguishes the client’s offerings from competitors. With the USPs determining the non-negotiable factors of the product to be included, your brief will also help your creative team to zero in their efforts on achieving the target creative results.

The Market

Knowing the product’s market requires intensive research on what marketers call the “three C’s”: competitors, context, and category.

Where is the client’s product advertised and sold? Who are its competitors? What are the competitors’ USPs and how are they using these to their advantage? What are their weaknesses? How do they make their promotion strategy effective? These need to be answered in identifying your client’s competitors. Some businesses position their products as user-friendly and affordable, while some leverage technology. It is also useful to know the competitors’ taglines and colors so your team can avoid these.

Identifying the context is as equally important as determining the first “C”. By context, take into consideration the current economic climate of the target consumers and whether there is a cultural or social event that can be linked to the product. Determining the context is immensely useful in identifying any potential limitations a creative campaign may encounter.

Category refers to how the target consumers perceive and label your client’s products. The goal is to put your client’s offerings in the front space of the target user’s mental market landscape. You can do this by creating a new category instead of competing in an existing one.

The Customer

While the product is the center of the creative brief, the customer is the most important object in it, as customers’ reaction to the campaign will be the basis of its success or failure.

Again, much work is needed for your creative brief to give substantial information about target customers. Findings on consumer interests, lifestyles, habits, needs, beliefs, and aspirations should all point to finding the trigger that will motivate them to patronize your client’s product. Oftentimes, the campaign’s objectives are linked to an identified trigger.

What is the best tool to create a creative brief?

With its native project workflows, Wrike empowers both large and small teams

A highly effective creative brief is the holy grail of any creative project. That is why project and collaboration tools like Wrike have been developed to support creative managers in ensuring that their creative briefs are effective. Wrike is a cloud-based project management application that provides tools to help account managers or project managers as well as marketers track dates, resources, and time spent on projects. It also offers free downloadable creative brief templates that will help you create strong and effective creative briefs every time.

The vendor has a great free trial where you can tinker with the key features at no cost. You can easily sign up for Wrike free trial here.

By Louie Andre

B2B & SaaS market analyst and senior writer for FinancesOnline. He is most interested in project management solutions, believing all businesses are a work in progress. No stranger to small business hiccups and drama, having been involved in a few internet startups. Prior to his for-profit ventures, he has had managed corporate communications for a Kansas City-based Children International unit.

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