Anatomy of an Effective Creative Brief

Published on
February 21, 2024
Chris Siciliano
Lead Copywriter
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Here’s the scenario.

You, a hardworking employee for ServiceTitan, approach us, the friendly creatives of Brand Studio, with a brilliant idea for a new marketing campaign or project. As much as we love the idea and want to get started, we caution you we’ll need a creative brief in hand before work can begin.

You: Is that really necessary?

Us: We assure you that it is.

The challenge with any creative project is getting all parties on the same page as early as possible to ensure good work is delivered on time and according to the original specifications.

Even when new projects vary only slightly from previous projects, or don’t seem especially complex or complicated, your colleagues in Brand Studio will be better positioned to produce impactful creative if your vision, wants, and needs are articulated clearly right from the start.

A thorough creative brief lays the groundwork for effective communication while serving as the blueprint that designers, video editors, and copywriters will use to bring your vision to life.

How do you ensure your brief is sufficiently thorough? Answering the questions below will be a good start.

What should we call your project? (Title)

Pick a name that adequately describes your project and distinguishes it from other work. Don’t sweat it too much. The official or public-facing name for the campaign may evolve during production and can be different from how it’s referred to internally.

What are the basics? (Essentials)

The Asana intake form asks practical questions about your project or campaign. While it may seem redundant to include similar information on the creative brief, doing so will help ensure the right information is always in the right hands. Basic info should include:

• Due dates
• Flexibility (if any)
• Additional stakeholders
• Contact info (email)
• Originating department

What are you trying to do? (Objective)

A clear, well-defined objective is an essential part of any creative brief. Ironically, this fundamental piece of the puzzle is often overlooked because it seems so obvious or intrinsic to the company’s broader goals—to win customers or to sell SKUs, for example. 

The best way to determine an objective is to simply ask what we are trying to achieve. Why is this campaign necessary? What is it trying to accomplish? Don’t overcomplicate it. Are we raising awareness for a new product or service? Do we want prospective customers to take a clear, precise action, like registering for a product demo or signing up for a webinar? 

The objective can be a combination of things, to raise awareness and drive MQLs, for example. Just be sure to state that desire clearly in the brief. Let us know too if one part of the objective takes precedence over any other, as the primary objective often informs the CTA.

Who are you trying to reach? (Audience)

The target audience of a campaign can seem so obvious that it too is sometimes neglected in the brief. ServiceTitan has a clearly defined ICP or ideal customer profile, after all—is there a need to elaborate?

Yes. And here’s why. Every ideal customer is a complex, multilayered organization which exists at its own distinct place in the sales funnel and with multiple stakeholders influencing purchase decisions. The more we know about the specific group or subgroup we’re trying to reach, the more we are able to align our creative to that group’s expectations and, ultimately, the more likely the message is to resonate.

Are we trying to communicate with prospects or current customers? Is the audience tech-savvy or wary about technology? Are they bullish on the economy or expecting a downturn? Are they established contractors or just starting out? Are they the decision-makers, office folks, or technicians in the field?

Answering these questions in the brief will influence how the creative is executed and can impact the overall success of the campaign.

What are you trying to say? (Message)

A successful campaign communicates something succinct and essential to the audience about the company, product, or service we’re promoting. Ask yourself, what essential message are we trying to communicate with this campaign?

Is it that ServiceTitan helps contractors retain top talent by making the job easier through automation? That Pantheon is a tremendous networking opportunity and a good way to learn about the latest advancements in AI? That ServiceTitan is THE choice for commercial contractors?

You may not know exactly what words or turn of phrase will best communicate this message to the target audience. No problem. That’s why we have copywriters. But what you should have locked in beforehand is the basic underlying message—the thesis statement, so to speak—that will need to be conveyed.

Where will this live? (Media/Medium)

Where a project will be shared has a significant impact on how it looks, feels, and sounds. The same message on Facebook will have a different tone or vibe than a white paper or radio ad, for example. Listing all desired platforms on the creative brief helps ensure the message is tailored to meet the expectations of the audience wherever they may find it.

What else should we know about this project? (Special Considerations)

Is there anything unique or distinct about this project that could potentially impact or influence the creative? Do you want to subtly reference a specific competitor or event? Do you have an idea or theory you want to test? Is there relevant source material or an existing campaign from a different industry we should use as inspiration? If so, include it in the brief.

What happens now?

Once your creative brief is complete and submitted in Asana, senior members of Brand Studio will review it and get back to you with questions or concerns. Depending on the size, scope, and complexity of the project, we may schedule a kickoff meeting to set expectations and confirm all stakeholders are aligned.

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