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:

Funniest Copywriting Conference Ever


Copy Cabana Copywriting Conference 27 September 2017 @Copy_Cabana #cc2017

I’m all inspired and fired up after a brain blazing day at Copy Cabana, the annual copywriting conference in Bournemouth created by Andy Maslen and Vikki Ross. Last year, I attended the first Copy Cabana after hearing about it at their Creative Digital Copywriting course, and I loved it. It was funny with great industry speakers. I was keen to come again.

Copy Cabana Copywriting Conference presenters' Matt's blue loafers, Peter's purple loafers, Andy's colourful brogues and Glenn's white trainers.

Blue loafers, purple loafers, and multi-coloured brogues.


Copy Cabana opened by the organiser Matthew Desmier from Silicon Beach wearing a fun blue summery rompsuit with bright blue loafers, and he introduced the hosts Andy in his multi-coloured brogues and Vikki in her silver sequined converse. Colourful shoes were the order of the day on stage. From the outset, there was laughter and jokes. The trio are great characters, and immediately there was a relaxed and humorous atmosphere in the theatre.





Sarah Topping, Copywriting, Voice of Puffin, at Copy Cabana Natalka Design.

Sarah Topping by Natalka Design and her books.

With sunbeams and a magical speaker, Sarah Topping, Creative Copywriter, Playing with Words, Copy Cabana 2017 had started with a bang. As the Voice of Puffin at Penguin Sarah had worked on splendiferous books, from authors like Raymond Chandler and Roald Dahl. It was wondercrump to hear her stories about writing the blurbs for book covers and the marketing materials for Roald Dahl books, the classics Mark Twain, Enid Blyton, through to conjuring up the copy for J.K. Rowlings’ Pottermore. I was spellbound listening to Sarah telling her story with her original childhood copy of Matilda signed by Quinten Blake. The best copywriting job ever. The A to Z of adventure and hufflepuff with Sarah Topping.



Peter Stephen and Glenn Sturgess Copy Cabana Copywriting Conference

Peter Stephen and Glenn Sturgess, The Robots are coming

The Robots are coming had a powerful introduction with Glenn Sturgess, Head of Copy (and Crumpets) and Peter Stephen, the best-dressed Senior Copywriter at Ogilvy One Business with his purple loafers. They were full of energy and wit. Their topic was smart and well put together. “15-20 years until AI can take on copywriting briefs.” Wow, this made me think more about artificial intelligence and our working roles. If you think about it, 15 years ago there weren’t any Social Media Manager roles. Today, Social Media is embedded in our marketing strategy and advertising campaigns. AI can automate copywriting. But machines can’t be curious and ask the many questions we human copywriters ask. “Don’t be a Luddite. Copywriters have curiosity, courage, and generosity.”

Glenn and Peter shared some top advice from David Ogilvy “On average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy.” Why aren’t we putting five times more effort into our headers? We need to test our copy. “The best ideas come as jokes. Make your thinking as funny as possible.” Glenn and Peter certainly gave a valuable and funny.


Kerry Thorpe, Communications Lead for Ben & Jerry’s Europe gave us the scoop on Ben & JKerry’s. Kerry has a wonderful sense of humour; by changing the J to a K in her interview got she the job. She fondly describes the founders as two hippy guys who met in the gym, threw cookie dough chunks into the ice cream for more taste and adapted a pizza restaurant business plan as their own by only changing the word pizza to ice cream. Their motto is ‘If it isn’t fun – why do it?’ Kerry’s perks include taking three pints of ice cream home a day and being able to take her dog to work and walk it around with other dogs in a parade pen in the office. It sounded like a fun place to place.

Kerry Thorpe, Ben and Jerry's Copywriting Conference

Ben and Jerry’s climate change campaign

There is a flavour graveyard, the factory is the ‘Creation Station, ’ and everyone has an aka name. Everything is a pun with the copywriting, ‘Son of a ‘wich,’ ‘Spoon bending chunks,’ ‘Jerry Garica.’ Ben & Jerry’s are helping to tackle climate change with their clever message, “if it’s melted, it’s ruined”. Kerry was entertaining sharing how relaxed, caring and fun it is to write for Ben & Jerry’s. Perfect before lunch. While in the lunch queue, people were salivating from hearing about yummy ice cream, making puns and wanting to win a year’s supply. Two lucky people did win.



Ben McKinney Copywriting Conference

Ben McKinney

The afternoon kicked off with a surprise guest speaker Ben McKinney, Copywriter. Ben was running his window cleaning business for ten years. He became a copywriter eight months ago after taking Andy Maslen’s copywriting course. Ben was enthusiastic, and his humour was fabulous. Andy often tweets about his window cleaner earning more a day than a copywriter. Ben’s lines on why he’s changed his career to be a copywriter were spot on. As copywriters, you care about the customer. “You really care about that person reading that letter or email. I didn’t care about a window after I washed.” Carry on writing Ben; you are inspirational.




Sharon Tanton, Creative Director and Sonja Jefferson, Founder of Valuable Content Copywriting Conference

Sharon Tanton and Sonja Jefferson, Valuable Content, Strategy Act 3, The Party

Sharon Tanton, Creative Director and Sonja Jefferson, Founder of Valuable Content presented a valuable, engaging and tongue in cheek speech. Their teamwork flowed. Content giant Google is a client. They run content marketing strategy pub school from their local; how perfect. They shared graphics on The Land of Content and the processes that businesses go through to produce content from: The Bay of Good Intentions to The Port of Quick Wins or Foggy Bottom or The Marshes of the Ill Prepared or Shit Creek or the Roundabout of Despair when the business is wanting to get to Bountiful Bay. These labels sparked laughter and nods of confirmation that it was all true. Fantastic analogies to use.


The Land of Content Copywriting Conference“Content without strategy is just stuff.” Sonja and Sharon take their clients to pub school for exploration. They use three strategy acts that are beautifully detailed as infographics to get clients to Bountiful Bay. “Act 1 is an exploration phase to uncover the company’s vision and purpose. Ask the big questions, talk to real customers, define the goals and create your content plan. Construction is Act 2. Stick to your plan. Act 3 is the Party. Launch your content on the world. Shake up the perfect cocktail for your customers and keep it coming. Refine it over time and build your community. Step-up and take a more strategic role. Writers help businesses think and act quickly.” Sonja and Sharon have written an award-winning book ‘Valuable Content Marketing: How to Make Quality Content Your Key to Success.’ They are witty and high on content.


Rishi Dastidar, Head of Verbal Strategy, BrandPie, Poet and Copywriter Copywriting Conference

Rishi Dastidar

Rishi Dastidar, Head of Verbal Strategy, BrandPie, Poet, and Copywriter. Rishi’s words poured out eloquently while he read ‘Ashes for Breakfast’ by Durs Grünbein, and poetry from his book ‘Ticker-tape.’ “It can take up to a year for a poem to be finished, which for a poet is apparently quick. The phase was hanging about on a piece of paper, then a notebook until I found the lines. Poems oscillate.” Rishi said that Plato viewed poetry as limiting. Rishi told us a story. While he was in a client meeting, he was introduced to a CEO as Head of Verbal Strategy and also a poet. The CEO looked him in the eye and said, “No arty, farty shit.” Another time, he went to Paris for an urgent project, and the CEO there enthused, “I hear you are a poet. At last a proper writer.”

Rishi shared a quote from William Maynard of the Bates agency, “most good copywriters fall into two categories. Poets. And Killers. Poets see an ad as an end. Killers sees an ad as a means to an end.” The secret Ogilvy reveals, “If you are both a killer and a poet, you get rich.” My favourite quote from Rishi was, “You can write something that can be read in 500 years in time.”


Joe Fattorini Copywriting Conference Copy Cabana

Joe Fattorini

The Wine Show TV Presenter and Wine Expert, Joe Fattorini was hilarious sharing his stories from working at The Herald in Glasgow in the mid-90s with plying the homeless with expensive wine. Joe asked them what they thought of the wine. They had a social class preconception that wine was too good for them as they were homeless. Joe showed how most wine writing is flowery ‘macerated red cherries, crème de cassis, crushed violets and cedar wood’ and lines like ‘It is extraordinarily long and persistent in the mouth.’ Is this about wine? This copy appeals to about only 5% of the wine-buying population. “We can only taste a maximum of three things. If you describe more than three aromas, you are lying.” Joe dished out science to explain the three types of taste buds and asked us if we like different types of coffee. I discovered I was a Super Taster for not liking coffee or tea. Another person learnt due to having a very sweet tooth that he needed to apologise to his mother as there was a 96% chance he’d given his mother terrible morning sickness.


Joe Fattorini French wine posters Copywriting Conference Copy Cabana

French wine posters

“A quarter of the population only like full flavoured wines.” Joe introduced the wine aroma wheel invented by Ann C. Noble. Ann thought that wine shouldn’t be described as elegant or fruity but to use the aroma wheel to write about wine. Joe told us that when he was asked about presenting The Wine Show, he thought about how to make it work on TV. Joe explored research. Google images show groups of people out drinking wine together. His research found that most people drank wine at home to relax in front of Netflix. “Wine is a wank in a glass.” Best quote of the day! “Wine is still used to mark the most important times in life.” Joe said that through knowing these insights, they were able to successfully communicate ITV’s The Wine Show to appeal to their audience. It is all about knowing your audience. Joe brings science into wine writing. A very engaging and entertaining presenter.



Karen Allonby Copywriting Conference Copy Cabana

Karen Allonby


Karen Allonby, Senior Marketing Officer from World Vision UK spoke to our hearts with touching cases studies of How emotion works in fundraising. There was silence in the room as everyone was intently listening to the verbal pictures that Karen was evoking with their personalised emotional thank you letters. These letters told the story of how the sponsor’s money has helped the child they sponsor to get an education and how they are getting on with their life and what it means to them. World Vision UK are building trust and engagement. They receive happy letters back from their sponsors showing their appreciation for the communications. Karen’s speech was very thought-provoking and beautifully delivered.





Nick Parker Viz Green Form Copywriting Conference Copy Cabana

Nick Parker, Viz’s Green Form

Nick Parker, Comedian, Writer and Language strategist opened with “Tone of Voice is Bullshit, isn’t it?” He used to write for Viz, and their Green Form contract even had humour in it. “If you are registered for VAT…If you aren’t you don’t want to be, I can tell you. (It’s a bigger pain in the arse than piles).” Reading this made him want to write like this. “Clients all want their copy to be good, cheap and delivered fast. Only two out of this three are achievable. They can’t have a unicorn.” Nick spoke about the national boat naming competition that ended up with the winner being Boaty McBoatface. If the media team had given the nation a brief, they would have ended up with a name more fitting for the boat. Nick had hilarious examples of great copy and appalling copy. An example of Skype and’s copy as good and clear copy. His son noticed a company had inconsistent product naming for their dog food flavours ‘Chicken, Fish, and Puppy.’


A Dutch friend asked Nick how would he explain tones of voice to a German bank.

Nick came up with The Ten Tones of Voice.

Nick Parker Copywriting Conference Copy Cabana


  1. Playful Children – Ben & Jerry’s and Innocent’s style of copy.
  2. Simplifiers – Help Remedies.
  3. Foolbiscuits – Mad and idiotic nonsense copy.
  4. Rebels – Not caring and doing their own thing. The Adventurists T&Cs.
  5. Ronseals – Tell it straight. Ronseal and Net App.
  6. Big Friendly Giants – Skype and
  7. Purposeful – Tech firms.
  8. Energisers – The shit hits the fan situations like Tesco’s response to the horse meat fiasco.
  9. Storytellers – Brands like Jack Daniels.
  10. Impersonators – Soap & Glory, mixing it up a bit.


Nick produced some cards with personality traits on them to help with defining a company’s tone of voice to give to his friend. He also decided to make himself up some inspirational cards to use every day, they all had the same message – “Get the fuck on with it”. We were in stitches with laughter. He said that they work every day, even though you know what it is going to say. Nick was hilarious.

There was much laughter and learning to take away already.


Elle Graham-Dixon is a Strategy Director and Partner at BBH copywriting conference Copy Cabana

Elle Graham-Dixon

Elle Graham-Dixon is a Strategy Director and Partner at BBH. Elle uncouples the stereotypes from the insights. Elle uses a simple process of looking at the problem then looks at the insights to solve the problem. She passionately showed us how we could subconsciously respond with a bias by the language the copy had used. By focusing on the insights and rewriting the copy with ‘equality is for everyone’ in mind, we can change these stereotypes. She suggested using The Bechdel test when writing. Great to think that coming from this position when writing we can help to change stereotyping and put diversity at the front of our thinking. Elle’s commitment and passion were evident.


Steve Harrison copywriting conference Copy Cabana

Steve Harrison

Steve Harrison, Creative Director and Copywriter who’s won more Cannes Lions in his field than any creative director in the world, while at his agency HTW, delivered ‘How to write something interesting,’ with excellent insights on his techniques. “Establish the customer’s problem and write clear for their customer’s problem. Client’s often ignored the customer’s problem. Instead, they want the creative you produce to directly address their marketing problem. It could be the fact that:

  • 60% of customers haven’t signed up to pay by direct debit
  • like-for-like sales are down 5% this first quarter
  • no one can recognise the pack on the supermarket
  • customers are redeeming investments because fund performance is poor.”

“You don’t care about the client’s problem. You care about the customer’s problem.”

Steve has much knowledge and experience to share. It felt like everyone was hanging on his every word. He quoted Dimitrios Tsivrikos, Consumer and Business Psychologist, “Receiving novel information activates the brain’s reward pathway, which leads to a continuous cycle in which we are compelled to seek out more and more information.” Headlines arouse our curiosity. Steve shared John Caples, “Even today you can look through almost any consumer or professional publication and find headlines that possess not a single one of the necessary qualities, such as self-interest, news, or curiosity.” A successful headline combines curiosity with the imparting of news.

Gossage Beethoven Sweatshirt Advert copywriting conference Copy Cabana

Gossage Beethoven Sweatshirt Advert

copywriting conference Copy Cabana Howard Gossage and The 1st International Paper Airplane Competition ad for Scientific American.

The 1st International Paper Airplane Competition Advert


Steve educated us on Howard Gossage the print adman of the 1960s, “People read what interests them, and sometimes it is an ad.” He explained that Gossage used printed adverts with coupons to get the reader engaged in a conversation. Like how people use Facebook or Twitter, but it was 50 years ago in print. He was ahead of his time. Gossage was the first person to put a face on a sweatshirt in the Beethoven, Brahms or Bach sweatshirt ad. Steve ended by sharing an extensive collection of adverts all over using the headline ‘The Art of.’ These writers had not done their research. I laugh to myself as I’m writing this, Pocket trends have highlighted a article ‘Zen and the Art of Hedge Fund Management,’ that writer needs to read Steve Harrison’s book ‘How to write better copy.’




Steve Harrison and Vikki Ross copywriting conference Copy Cabana

Steve Harrison and Vikki Ross

In the evening, there was a private viewing of ‘Howard Gossage: Changing the world is the only fit work of a grown man.’ Steve wrote the biography about the 1960s adman, and he wrote and directed a full-length feature documentary about Gossage. It was enlightening to learn more about Gossage, his thinking and how he’d worked. Howard was hired by Scientific American to increase the amount of advertising the magazine received from airline accounts. The 1st International Paper Airplane Competition ad drew entries from around the world. That campaign helped establish the magazine as a viable place for air and travel advertising. Howard looked beyond advertising he looked at the bigger picture. He saw advertising as a dialogue between the advertiser and the customer. To learn more about Gossage watch Steve Harrison’s complete interview on Howard Luck Gossage.


It has been an educational and funny copywriting conference. I’m already looking forward to going to the third side-splitting Copy Cabana, in 2018.

Have fun,



Copy Cabana illustrations by Natalka Design. copywriting conference

Copy Cabana illustrations by Natalka Design.

Get in touch, I would love to hear from you and help you with your Marketing, Content, Social Media or Training needs. Like us on Facebookfollow us on Twitter and on Instagramconnect on LinkedIn, or say hello on 07956 144239.

Why does your business need a strategic marketing partner?

As a business owner or a CEO, you can get overwhelmed trying to do everything yourself, implement a marketing strategy and keep it all in-house. Hiring and training the right people for the right tasks is key to delivering a successful business strategy. You could benefit from having a strategic marketing partner to help you move forward your marketing and social media strategy, planning and deliveries while you find and train the right people.

Strategic marketing partnerSome people think that all marketing is ‘the colouring-in department that promotes the right product, in the right place, at the right time and that anyone can do it’. There is a lot more to marketing. It takes a lot of thought and understanding of your business to market a product or service successfully, and an important part of this thinking is done through the process of developing your marketing strategy.

“If you concentrate on doing what you know best to do in your business you can do it exceptionally well and outsource the things in your business that you don’t know well,” commented Charlotte Phillips, Managing Director, What is your story? Ltd.

Working with a strategic marketing partner can better serve your customers. A strategic partner is another business with whom you enter into an agreement to help your business to achieve more success. It can give you the opportunity to grow your customer base and improve your business.

They can work with you to create and implement a good marketing strategy. Successfully implementing a marketing strategy is an important key to a profitable business. It defines your vision, mission, business goals, and outlines the steps you need to take to achieve these goals. A well thought out marketing strategy raises awareness and helps your business to aim the products and services to the right people that will buy them. It looks at your customer segmentation and matches the right channels to where your customers are to deliver your communications.

A report on the Strategic Value of Business Alliances and Compatible Partner Matching by Business Performance Innovation (BPI) Network found that 56% of respondents felt that strategic partnerships and alliances are extremely important to their businesses, and 15% see that the value of these partnerships is growing in importance. Notably, no one felt that partnerships were unimportant or nonexistent.

How to choose a strategic marketing partner to help implement your marketing strategy

When selecting a strategic marketing partner, consider a few factors:

  1. Your purpose

Know what you want to achieve through having a strategic marketing partnership. Decide whether it is to: acquire more customers, increase company growth, seek new ideas, insights, and innovation.

  1. Your brand alignment

Do you share similar brand values and business cultures? Working with businesses that you are in synergy with makes for an ideal partnership. Choosing a partner that is just as passionate about your values and cultures as they are on their own will compliment your business.

  1. Customer segmentation

Do you have similar customer personas? Having matching customer profiles will benefit you both with engaging your target audiences. By looking at their website, blogs, social media followers and comments will give you a good idea.

  1. Location and language

Consider if you are based in different time zones and speak different languages as this could put a strain on your partnership and become time-consuming for all stakeholders.

  1. Availability to deliver

What will you benefit from in the relationship? Make sure you both document and agree on the benefits, reporting, and results from the partnership.

A strategic marketing partner will be able to implement your marketing plans skillfully. They can empower you by providing you access to marketing knowledge, resources, and tools to help you achieve your marketing vision, mission, and business goals.

If you are looking for a diligent strategic marketing partner, contact Charlotte to discuss further at or call 07956 144239 for further information.





Explaining Marketing Clearly

Explaining Marketing Clearly


This morning I had a lovely call from a client saying that she’s attended many business builder type workshops and asked about marketing and social media and they had not made sense to her. While when she first met me a month ago at an event, and she asked me what I did, everything I said to her resonated and she knew that I was the key to helping her understand marketing and social media for her business. When I asked which words was it that made her realise, and she said it was all of it. I had explained things clearly for her to understand. She has now booked a Social Media Training course to take her business to the next level.

If you want to gain a better understanding of how to implement your marketing planning and strategy, content planning and Social Media Management contact Charlotte on 07956 144239 or email


Charlotte Jane Grimaldi Phillips

What is your story?

MD Charlotte’s story

I’m passionate about communicating and sharing content to engage people and to raise awareness through stories. Everyone remembers a story. People remember the start, the middle, the end and how the story made them feel. They resonate with the story and remember the message.

We can communicate our stories and content in numerous ways and through various media today. I find it exciting to connect, influence, engage and share these with people.

I started What is your story? marketing agency in 2016 after a few years consulting in large financial and energy corporations.

With over twenty years of experience in marketing, I’ve become a dedicated Marketing Communications and Content Specialist with a proven track record in financial services and large corporations, ATL and BTL marketing and creative marketing communications.

I enjoy developing marketing strategies, campaigns, tactics and content that all align and are tailored to the customer. It gives me a sense of achievement seeing these support a company’s strategy and bottom line results.

I’m customer centric. Working with both B2B and B2C clients you realise that the only real difference with the customers in marketing, is tailoring the tone of voice. People are people no matter which sector you are marketing to. The new term is H2H – Human 2 Human marketing.

I love a challenge. Previous clients have described me as “successful”, “creative”, “a problem solver” and “a safe pair of hands”.

I look forward to receiving your challenge.

Charlotte Jane Grimaldi Phillips