Free Guide to Writing a Good Creative Brief

Every marketing agency, designer, copywriter and creative will say how important a good design or marketing brief is and how rarely they receive a good one. A good brief ensures that the client gets what they want and the marketer, designer, copywriter or creative knows what is required to deliver.

Over the past 20 years of working in large corporations like CBI, Sortimo, Friends Provident, Friends Life, Zurich, AXA Wealth, SSE, liaising with agencies and in-house creatives, I’ve seen all sorts of styles of creative, marketing, design and communications briefs. Briefs that are pages long in Excel, briefs that have tables in Word, interactive pdf briefs with limited space for content, a couple of sentences in an email brief, or a two minutes telephone conversation brief. Having a good brief template to capture all the essential information to deliver your client’s requirements is crucial to the freelancer’s or agency’s success.

Many times, a client has expressed to me, “But I just want a leaflet or an email, and I don’t want to complete a form.” I have asked, “Do you know who you are aiming this at and why? What do you want it to achieve and how are you going to measure its success? To make sure I get it right for you I need all this information.” I’ve had clients giving me the brief over the phone. I have captured the information and politely told them they would still need to complete a brief, but to help I’ll complete the information that I already know. I do like to make everything as easy as possible for my clients and my colleagues, but briefs should be given a great deal of thought by the client and be carefully written to avoid misinterpretations. It needs the clients’ input to get the best results for them. Not a copying and pasting job of information from one brief to another as the briefs have different outcomes. The creative brief isn’t just another form; it gives the creative the important direction they need to deliver the client’s desired results.

What is your story Designer working on a creative briefWhen the client and agency have detailed all the necessary requirements in the brief and the client has signed off the brief; the output concepts produced should be precisely what the client wants. If the client says that the concepts are all way off and not what they are looking for, it will come down to the brief. The agency hasn’t asked enough questions and the client hasn’t detailed enough information of what they are expecting. Occasionally, the client’s proposition or brand guidelines can change during the production process, and they’ve not updated the agency. Or the client has written the brief, but they aren’t the person that is signing the final concept off. Or a senior influencer in the company has a differing opinion to the person that wrote the brief. Or the brief was written in haste, excluded any research or consumer insights, or they don’t know enough about their audience, or the client isn’t passionate about their proposition. From my experience when none of the first set of concepts is right and they signed off the brief, I have found that the client doesn’t really know what they really want, only what they don’t want. If this happens, the agency or creative will need to chat to the client highlighting that they have followed the agreed brief. The brief will need to be revisited to ensure that the desired outcome is achieved for the client and that the agency checks that the person they are liaising with has included all the relevant peoples’ input in the brief.

How a client briefs an agency determines what they get back. It is important for us to ask all the right questions to help create what they need. I’ve put together a creative brief in a Word template for you to download and adapt to your agency or freelance style. The brief includes sections with questions and tips for what should be included in each section. To download the Creative Brief Template, click I want it.

To contact me for more information on marketing consulting, communications, strategy, tools or social media training call: 07956 144239 or email: marketing@whatisyourstory.co.uk.

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