What is a creative brief?

You are starting work on a new creative campaign. The team is excited to get going — but where do you start? There are videos to produce, landing pages to create, and copy to write. Everyone needs to be aligned on the goals, audience, budget, and deadline. You need a creative brief.

A creative brief is a document that informs the creative approach and delivery of new marketing or advertising campaigns. It connects the creative work requested to the broader business goals by clearly outlining the strategy of the campaign. Whether you are working with an internal team or an external consultant or agency, creative briefs help those working on the project understand the objectives, audience, messages, and key deliverables.

You might view creative briefs as a roadblock in an already too-long list of work that needs to get done. But creative briefs are foundational to delivering successful marketing programs. When done well, these documents boost creativity and keep the team focused.

Creative briefs are frequently used to establish agreement between clients and marketing agencies. For the client, a clear creative brief demonstrates that the agency or consultant understands their expectations. For the agency, they are able to gain client buy-in for the creative vision of a campaign.

Creative briefs are also useful for kicking off internal marketing projects. For example, teams may use a creative brief to set the foundation for a blog redesign. Starting with a creative brief helps everyone stay focused on what they need to deliver. Aligning in this way reduces unnecessary conflict and wasted time, driving teams to deliver better results.

Regardless of the audience, the benefits of a creative brief are the same:

  • Align around clear goals

  • Bring consistency and structure to the creative process

  • Document key details needed to work efficiently

  • Define the elements of a marketing program or campaign

  • Capture exactly what must be delivered

Who is responsible for a creative brief?

Who creates a creative brief depends on how it is being used. In an agency setting, a client will provide a high-level creative brief to the account manager about the work that needs to be done. The account manager then builds out a more detailed creative brief to be used internally in partnership with the creative director. This creative brief is what guides the team's work. A new creative brief is crafted each time the client requests new work.

For in-house teams, the owner of the project or program is responsible for creative briefs for internal teams and consultants. For example, product marketing managers would write the creative brief for work related to a go-to-market launch.

Like marketing campaigns, assembling the creative brief is a collaborative effort. Speak to other stakeholders to make sure you understand all priorities and constraints. These details inform what you will include in your brief.

What components should be included in a creative brief?

Your creative brief must balance brevity with critical details. You want it to contain enough information to be useful but not so much that it is overly prescriptive. Your creative brief should answer the following questions:

  • Why are we doing it?

  • What is the problem or opportunity?

  • Who is it for and why should they care?

  • What is the scope of the work?

  • Where, when, and how will it be used?

  • How will we measure success?

Once you understand the answers to those questions, distill that information down into the following key components:

Objective

What do we hope to accomplish?

Key details

What is the timeline and budget?

Background

Why are we launching this now?

Audience

What groups are we targeting?

Customer truths

What does the team need to understand about this group?

Key messages

What are the core concepts we want to convey?

Brand voice

What characteristics define the brand?

Mandatory inclusions

What elements (brand logos, taglines, etc.) must be included?

Deliverables

What are the deliverables (ebook, video, radio ads, etc.)?

KPIs

How will we measure results?

How do you build a creative brief?

Now that you understand the purpose and elements of a creative brief, you are ready to make your creative brief document. We have curated six templates for you to use that will help you get started quickly. Download them for free and customize them to fit your specific needs. If you are ready for more than static documents, try Aha! free for 30 days — with access to creative brief templates and marketing roadmaps that help you collaborate in real time.


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