The Creative Brief and Why It’s All About You

by Melinda Martin

Nobody wants to fill out a form. We all need everything done yesterday; we need our campaigns and materials created and ready to launch ASAP. Enter the creative brief. It forces you to sit down with your thoughts and really think about what you want to visually communicate.

Unless you really want or need more face time with your creative and graphic design team, make completing a creative brief, with ALL of the PERTINENT information, up front, part of your process.

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A creative brief is an efficient and effective way to begin your project. Every detail and specification the graphic designer needs is there at their fingertips. This document serves as a road map and helps reduce the need to hunt down the client and ask a million questions to ensure accuracy. An added bonus is that the creative brief can be referenced time and again during the project, to keep the entire team "on the same page" in more than one way. It can be used to assess and determine the final end product.

According to Aquent, AIGA’s official sponsor for professional development, creative briefs help keep projects running smoothly and prevent misunderstandings and delays by:

  • Connecting objectives with creative strategies
  • Building team consensus
  • Aligning expectations
  • Defining clear, measurable goals

A creative brief doesn’t have to be lengthy. Just take time to sit down, sort your thoughts and communicate where you see the project going. The adage that “content is king” applies here. The most important thing about a creative brief is the content provided. Attention to details including the final sizes, print specifications, target audience, deadline, key message(s) and budget are the main items to focus on.

Here is an example of the kind of creative brief my team and I use:

Project Launch Date (Today):
Internal Contact:
Use of Piece/Purpose:
Target Audience:
Key Messages:
Copy Will Come From:
Photos Will Come From:
Format of Piece (brochure, video, postcard):
Ideal Size/Length of Piece:
Offer (Specifics if Yes):
Who is Producing/Printing?
Budget and Code:
Mandatory Elements:

  • Logo and branding elements
  • Legal if for external use (standard; promotional: ______________________________________________________________)
  • Offer Deadline? _______________  

  • Other

Desired Timeline (add dates):

  • Review needs/sheet
  • Copy points provided or copy written by:

  • First draft created:

  • Feedback to creative:

  • Changes made:

  • Back to internal client for final approval

  • Finished (printed/video edited, ready for use)

Who will provide final approval?
Anything else to share?

A well-though out and organized creative brief is a thing of beauty. It will save time, eliminate frustrations, your creative person will love you, dark clouds will fade away into sunshine and the stars will align. Trust me.

More do’s and don’ts are available here.