How to Write a Creative Brief (Including Free Template)

Creative briefing is a vital task and component of any media, display, or video campaign. Creative briefs vary from one company to another, but the importance of the process never waivers in the marketing and creative sector. Briefs can differ greatly in length, format, and structure but the overarching principles are usually consistent across the board.

If you’re trying to implement a briefing process or just looking for tips then here is a quick introduction to creative briefs, a best practice guide, and a free to download template!

What is a Creative Brief?

The creative brief is a document that outlines your campaign theme, the audience you’re going to target, the channels you’re going to use, and the necessary descriptive details about the marketing asset in question.

Briefs are usually sent to designers, creative teams, or agency partners and it’s their responsibility to deliver an asset based on the information contained within a brief. If you want to ensure the end-product illustrates your concept, or the vision of the requestor, then you are going to need to make sure the briefing process is smooth and reliable.

How to Write a Creative Brief

1 - Define the business / product

This section should set the tone for the entire creative brief. By sharing information about your business and product(s) you will give the creative team a clear understanding of what your value proposition is and what you’re trying to communicate to the audience. Mission statements or elevator pitches are often quoted in this section.

If you are introducing a creative brief process for internal requests, then you will not need to share as much information here as you would need if the project were being sent to an agency.

2 - Outline the idea

It’s always helpful to share information about why this campaign or asset is being created. Was it based on research, customer insights, or a request from the executive team? In its most basic form, a marketing campaign should always be looking to achieve a goal or overcome a challenge so it’s time to ask yourself - what specific challenge is this campaign trying to address? The context provided here will give the viewer a good idea of what the rationale is behind the campaign.

3 - Describe the audience

The next step is to share intelligence around who you are going to target with this new campaign. Using audience insights, try and build a quick customer profile. Sometimes this profile will be made up of demographic information such as age, gender, job, or location. Alternatively, if the customer profiles are stated and known by all parties then you should clarify which profile is being targeted here.

4 - Define the objectives

Once you have described the campaign and the profile of customer you’re trying to reach, you must not forget to ask the most important question of the briefing process - what are we trying to achieve? Within the objectives it should be clear whether the campaign is, for example, a brand awareness drive, a lead generator, a sales conversion exercise and so on. The campaign type will shape the message and may also influence what type of media is most effective.

In addition to campaign type, you should clarify what the call to action is for the customer profile – do we want them to visit a specific page? Follow a specific social account? Engage with us directly by phone or email? Or return to tradition and visit a store!?

5 - Competitive landscape

Within the creative brief, it is helpful to share information on the competitive landscape so that the reader can craft a campaign that stands out from the crowd. The most common items of information shared in a competitive landscape would be:

- Main competitors and market share
- Messaging and tone used by competitors
- Customer profile targeted by competitors

6 - Media Strategy & Description

This is the final stage of the briefing process that divulges information about the campaign. Once the objectives, customer profile, and competitive landscape is clear then it’s time to clarify where the new campaign or ads will appear.

Is this a print campaign or digital? If digital, what channels are going to be used? (e.g., email, social, newsletter etc.) If you haven’t made it clear already, then you should be reaffirming the tone you want to convey in the campaign and what the overarching message or slogan is.

Lastly, you should clarify the media requirements for the campaign such as media types, image sizes, languages needed etc.

7 - Reason to Believe

In addition to illustrating customer profiles, you should try and convey how you want the customer to feel. This section should focus on unique product attributes and emotional benefits. It makes your brand stand out and can help win business against the competition.

8 - KPIs

Before closing off the brief, you should identify KPIs and milestones so that you can communicate what success looks like. Without KPIs, it will be difficult to evaluate the success of a campaign so be explicit in your metrics and you can always revert back to the original KPIs when reporting on the success of a campaign.

9 - Budget & Deadline

If you have deliverable dates and budget constraints make sure you include them in the creative brief. There’s no point complaining about how long a campaign took to deliver or the cost if you never clarified in the first place! Giving clear guidance on deliverable dates will ensure that progress can be measured, and the project can be managed effectively.

The Benefits of a Good Creative Brief

In case it wasn’t already clear from the creative brief above, there are multiple benefits of a robust briefing process! Here are a few…

• Brainstorming

A creative brief can act as a platform for idea generation by the creatives and the designers by getting stakeholders together in unison to share ideas and agree on a plan of action.

• Clear Goals & Message

A brief will challenge you to define what it is you want to achieve with a campaign or communication, and it will also require you to clearly define the message. This will ensure there is no ambiguity about the purpose of the campaign.

• Accountability & Communication

Establishing parameters and building trust at the outset will help towards building a smooth delivery process. Agreeing on objectives, deliverables, profiles, and scope will guarantee there are clear roles and contributions.

• Faster Approvals

A creative briefing process will force stakeholders to be involved and onboard from the beginning of a project, which in turn can minimize conflicting feedback during the review and later in the approval cycle. As a result, requests and approvals should get processed faster.

• Better Quality

Best practice in briefing will inevitably lead to a higher quality final product. This is a direct result of aligning stakeholders, setting clear objectives, reaffirming customer profiles, and evaluating expectations and deliverables at an early phase. When people and time are valued, they are likely to be more invested and motivated.

If you migrate your briefing process to a digital platform then you will also benefit from creative workflows working in tandem to loop in the right talents at the right time. Digital briefs enable easier collaboration, more compliance, easier feedback and more.

Creative Brief Template

Are you looking to introduce creative briefs in your team? Not sure how to write it? Screendragon has created a free template that you can use to kickstart or improve your briefing process. You can download the template below to get started!


Want to Modernize Your Creative Briefs? Go Digital!

If you’re not experienced in briefing, then the traditional paper or word document is a good place to learn the ropes and set the foundation for good practices. However, busy teams and agencies will quickly find it difficult to manage files and word documents as the briefs begin to stack up and other work starts getting in the way. If this sounds familiar, then it’s time to take the step up and digitize your briefs!

You can save hours of unproductive time by utilizing smart briefs that prompt users what to fill out and when. Customizable forms ensure you only ask for the information that is needed for a specific campaign and a workflow system will guide the brief through the creative lifecycle, so you don’t have to!