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A Guide to Creative Briefs (+ 6 Free, Customizable Creative Brief Templates)

A creative brief is an absolutely essential component of any project. It acts as a project's blueprint or roadmap, established from the very beginning and answering big questions like the whats and the hows.

A creative brief is an absolutely essential component of any project. It acts as a project's blueprint or roadmap, established from the very beginning and answering big questions like the whats and the hows.

What is a creative brief?

A creative brief is a document that serves as a guide for marketing and advertising campaigns. It acts as a project's blueprint or roadmap for creative teams.

Creative briefs vary from project to project, but often include elements like:

  • Project summary
  • Target audience
  • Project objectives, deliverables and KPIs
  • Anticipated challenges
  • Processes
  • Project timeline
  • Budget
  • Design and style guides

...and other essential details.

This might sound like a lot of information, but it's also important to keep creative briefs... Well, brief.

A great creative brief shouldn't be more than a couple of pages long so that it can be referred back to with ease. Words like comprehensive and concise are your best friends here.

Creative briefs are especially important in advertising and marketing plans, but are immensely useful to any creative team that wants to make open collaboration their starting point and consistently exceed their project benchmarks and goals.

Why every project needs a creative brief

A creative brief is an action plan for a creative team. Indeed, it's an extremely beneficial document that should not be overlooked in the planning process. Here are some of the biggest reasons why your project should have a creative brief.

Creative briefs...

Improve creative team communication

Creative briefs often start as internal documents at larger agencies or organizations. Owing to this, they act as important creative team resources and ensure that clear communication and transparency will be prioritized throughout the project at hand.

First of all, creative briefs concisely outline all the important details about a project. That means that those working on it will be able to verify exactly what needs to be worked on at any given time.

Creative briefs may require input from several team members, so clear communication is key. This gets everyone on the same page and makes it much easier to take the team's broad vision to the client.

Represent project vision

Creative briefs are just that... creative. Even though their most important quality is the fact that they contain your project's important details, they're more than just sources of information. They also have to capture a certain je ne sais quoi about the project's chief message and the client's vision.

Because creative briefs are especially important when working on things like media strategy and marketing guidelines, they should account for elements like branding, company tone, and general project context.

Basically, a creative brief should act as an outline for a project and capture its creative nature at the same time.

Save time and money

Put simply, effective planning and organizing saves you money. Creative briefs are an important element of carrying out a project plan and sticking to it. 

Basically, when things don't go as planned, they cost teams time and money. People need to work longer hours to correct mistakes and resources get wasted on the wrong things. This isn't the kind of situation anyone wants to be in.

Since a creative brief lays out all the important aspects of a project early on in the development process, it helps avoid miscommunications, conflicting visions and requirements, last minute changes, and the like. This ensures that you’re getting excellent work done in the shortest amount of time possible, without any surprises.

Produce better results

The best creative projects require a high degree of planning. Your creative team will need to spend a lot of time brainstorming their vision, planning out every task they need to do to make it a reality, and ultimately bringing it to life. That's not something that just happens with a snap of someone's fingers, but starts with documentation, like the creative brief.

Something beautiful happens when creative teams put in work, plan their processes, and get to see their results flourish. When you have clear objectives and make a concerted effort to reach them, you'll get there.

On another note, documentation like the creative brief helps keep your creative team motivated and engaged. They'll see how they're progressing through their work and check off accomplishments as they go. This is a great thing because invested, motivated creatives produce better work at the end of the day.

Are resources for the future

You probably initially clicked on this article because you wanted a creative brief template download. Creative briefs can be tricky to write and take a lot of time to put together at the outset.

However, once your team has put the time and effort in and developed a great creative brief, it can be used as a resource for the future. That means that the next time you need to write a creative brief (especially for a similar project), life will be much easier.

What are the benefits of a creative brief?

You should make a creative brief for your next project if you want to...

  • Keep the project manager, the team members, the client, and any other stakeholders on the same page right off the bat.
  • Make project management a breeze.
  • Define project essentials such as key messages, project timeline, and deliverables so there isn't any room for confusion, disorganization, or scope creep later on.
  • Have one comprehensive source outlining all the key aspects of your creative project for your team to refer back to regularly.
  • Easily refer back to your project's visual guidelines, including everything from graphic design and style guides to content marketing and branding.
  • Foster accountability from all parties working on your particular project.
  • Optimize collaboration between different teams! Creative work is best done together. It's easy for the marketing team to collaborate with the social media and design teams if the comprehensive project strategy can all be found in one place.
  • Establish criteria for assessment and metrics for success, so everyone will know when your creative team kills it!

 

The key elements of creative briefs

Naturally, the contents of creative briefs vary depending on the project. Nevertheless, there are some elements that appear consistently across different creative brief examples. These are the essentials, so make sure that you include them when you're creating or customizing your creative brief template.

Basic information

Most creative briefs start off by outlining a project's basic information. That means noting down things like project name, project manager, project stakeholders, project team, client information, client's company, and current date.

Executive summary

Write a short and sweet project summary. Don't waste time and only include essential information. Your summary should tell the reader everything they need to know about your project in just a minute or two. They can be as short as one or two sentences.

Problem statement

Identify what problem your project will set out to solve, how it will solve that problem, and why that solution will be the best one out there. Basically, your problem statement determines your project's reason for being and justifies why it should be worked on.

Target audience

Identify and determine the target audience or ideal customer that you're tailoring your project to. This helps give projects direction and establish exactly what creative direction it will be going in.

If you're working on an advertising campaign or marketing project, this is even more essential. You might even decide to dive deeper into customer research.

Project objectives

Identify your project objectives here. Make sure they're specific, measurable, and agreed upon by all parties involved. Some creative teams find it useful to note down objectives in a list format.

Key performance indicators (KPIs)

Key performance indicators are tools that teams use to measure their project's progress and ultimately determine its success. They're measurable values that are best determined early on in the project development process.

Some examples of KPIs include new revenue, new leads, and website/social media page engagement.

Project timeline

All projects need some kind of structure. Project teams need to assess how long it'll take to carry out their work and clients need to know when they can expect their final deliverables.

Effective creative briefs often establish a rough project timeline and lay out when key milestones and deliverables will be due.

Project budget

A good creative brief will cover the project budget. That means determining how much the whole thing will cost from beginning to end. Make sure your project budget is within your client's budget and will earn your team members fair compensation for their work.

How to write an amazing creative brief

1. Find inspiration

Don't be tempted to rush the beginning of a project. Prioritize starting things off with the right frame of mind. Envision a finished creative project that will wow all parties involved and get excited about it!

2. Determine the purpose of your creative brief

Before you get started, the most important thing you can do is feel abundantly clear about why you're writing a creative brief. Determine what kind of project it's for, its most important details, and what you want it to accomplish.

3. Identify key details about your project

It's important that your creative brief details all the key basic information about your project right at the beginning.

This includes the project manager, the account manager, key team members, budget specifications, contact information, company name(s), current date, and the like.

4. Define your objectives

This is arguably the most essential part of your creative brief, so give it a good amount of thought. Outline your ultimate project or business objective, how it'll be achieved, and why it's important.

Hint: Make sure that all parties are on board with this!

5. Provide context

To start things off, you'll need to provide your team with some background information. Talk about the client or company's profile and branding as well as the specifics of the product or service you'll be marketing for them. Keep this short and sweet, but illustrative.

6. Establish your target audience

In order to market effectively, you need to define exactly who you're trying to reach. Really dive into the identity of your target audience. Ask your team questions like "What are their needs and wants?" and "How can we get their attention?"

7. Describe the problem your project is solving

This section goes hand-in-hand with your target audience section. Now that you've specified your target audience's wants and needs, identify what problem your project is setting out to solve and why. Ask your team questions like "How will our project solve this problem?" and "Why will our project's solution be the best one out there for our target audience?"

8. Add milestones

To carry out a perfect creative project, you'll need to break things down into a step by step process. Your creative brief is a great place to do just that.

Split your project down into tasks, subtasks, and deliverables. Then, be sure to put together an initial project timeline that covers things like key dates, milestones, and deadlines to keep everyone on track.

Slite's free creative brief templates

Many companies make the mistake of putting together creative briefs by copy and pasting different components from previous campaigns. Don't be that person! That's absolutely no way to put together an effective creative brief.

When it comes to your next creative project, take the time to start your creative brief from scratch and really get started on the right foot.

Putting together your own creative brief doesn't have to take forever, mind you. We've got you covered with our creative brief templates. They look great, are 100% customizable, and did we mention that they're free?

At Slite, our mission is to help teams work better together, asychronously and collaboratively. Our free templates allow you and your project team to do just that. Forget about searching through different tabs, emails, and links trying to find the right project details. Once you fill in our creative brief template, you'll have all your project's vital details in one place to refer back to at any time.

Agency Creative Brief 

Try Slite's free agency creative brief template

Description: This creative brief template is designed to be used internally and within an agency, whether you're working on marketing materials, video projects or another creative undertaking. It's a basic, clear brief that's perfect for customizing according to your needs. With fields on client guidelines, target audience, and execution strategy, you can't go wrong with this template download.

Graphic Design Creative Brief

Try Slite's free graphic design brief template

Description: This creative brief template was specifically designed for graphic design professionals. So if you work in the graphic design industry, this is for you! It's a simple template that's easy to customize according to your own and your client's ideas. It includes fields on branding, colour palette, colour codes, and preferred file types, but the sky's the limit in terms of possibilities.

Video Production Creative Brief

Try Slite's free video production brief template

Description: This creative brief template is designed for any video production creative who's working on a video production. It's a simple template that's easy to customize to meet your specific production needs. It has fields where you can enter in your video overview, target audience, and video objective. Any video creative working on a production can benefit from a creative brief template like this, trust us.

Book Launch Creative Brief

Try Slite's free book launch brief template

Description: If you need a creative brief template for a book launch project, you're in luck. This template is perfect for your creative process. You'll be able to cover your book description, your project objectives, your target audience, your rough timeline, and your deliverables.

Campaign Creative Brief

Try Slite's free campaign creative brief template

Description: If your creative team is working on a marketing campaign, it's likely that they'll need to write a creative brief. In fact, marketing teams are some of the biggest fans of creative briefs out there.This simple creative brief template is perfect for any marketing or advertising creative working on a campaign. It has fields on campaign context, campaign schedule, and campaign goals, but it can be customized in order to perfectly fit your needs.