Far too many times I’ve had clients call me up and say they need a new ad or brochure and that it’s due in two weeks. Unfortunately, this can sometimes be the extent of the information I receive for the project. I have to ask “Who’s the target? What do we want them to do after viewing the piece? What are we wanting to achieve? Why do we need to create this communication piece in the first place?” These are important questions and may take some thought to answer.
I appreciate that people are busy but in order for your in-house marketing department or marketing agency to develop an effective communications piece for you they need more information.
Why companies won’t (or can’t) write a brief
In my experience, the main reason why companies won’t (or can’t) write a creative brief for their marketing team is that they haven’t taken the time to develop (or commit to) a communications strategy for their brand. And, in many cases, they are just too close to their product or service to have a clear perspective on how the outside world perceives them.
Why a creative brief is important
The creative brief (or design brief as it’s often called) acts as a measuring stick to determine if the communications piece meets the defined objectives of the project. It also tells you who you’re speaking to, the net takeaway people should have after viewing it plus the desired action you want the viewer to take. Without one, there are far too many paths the design could take and they may not be ones that meet your business objectives.
It’s called a brief for a reason
It’s called a “brief” – not a document – for a reason. It should be brief. Taking the time to distill each element down to its simplest and clearest form makes everything more focused. And, as a result, your end creative product will be more focused and effective.
Elements of a creative brief
These are the elements that should be included in your brief:
- Key fact: What is the current situation or environment we face?
One or two sentences summing up the current business, marketing or competitive situation or environment.
- Problem: What problem are we trying to solve with this communication?
Define the target’s problem (not yours) that you are trying to solve.
- Objective: What results do we want to achieve?
Ensure this is a quantified objective to measure results against.
– Target audience: Who should we be talking to? (demographic and psychographic information)
– How do they currently view our brand/service/product and the competition? (This is your current position)
– Why do they think like this?
– Who/what is our main competition?
- Key benefit/promise: What is the key benefit our brand/services/product offers? (what to sell)
This MUST be compelling enough to solve the defined problem and meet the stated objective.
- Benefit support: What is the “reason why” we deliver on the key benefit promise? (how to sell it)
Don’t go crazy with information here – a list will do fine.
- Tone: What style/mood is required?
Funny? Serious? Technical? Authoritative? Approachable? Use adjectives to be as specific (but believable) as possible.
- Action: What action do we want the viewer to take?
- Net takeaway: How do we want the prospect to feel after viewing the piece? (how we want to be positioned)
Imagine what the voice in their head is saying to them. This will be an emotional response, not a practical or technical one.
- Other items:
– Mandatory items: logos to include, legal, etc.
– Schedule: a workback schedule for milestones and deliverables.
– Key players: people responsible for approvals for both the client and agency.
Collaborate with your marketing agency
Take the time to write your brief. Or better yet, collaborate with your marketing agency and take advantage of their experience and insight.