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Writing a creative brief: everything you need to know

Being a freelancer means that I get to work with a lot of different companies and individuals on a day-to-day basis. Many of them have plenty of experience briefing a creative team. Some of them have never worked with an outsourced member of staff or creative individual in their lives.

Those who aren’t too well versed in servicing the needs of a creative (and let’s face it, we’re pretty demanding when it comes to source material) often have no idea how to brief in a task.

That all ends now.

From the viewpoint of a creative, I’m going to tell you just exactly what we need from a brief so you can whip one up at the drop of a hat and look super fly when you do it.

 

What’s a creative brief?

A creative brief is a document used to summarise a task. It will ideally include an overview of the project, details on what needs to be created and what form it should take. It should be filled with information that gives the creative individual everything they need to know about the history of the project, how the customer should “feel” when they read/see it, and what it should achieve when it’s done.

 

Why do I need to do a creative brief?

The creative world is a loose, free-flowing space in which ideas float about, unformed and unguided. A creative brief is what shapes them and tethers them to a purpose. Airy-fairy crap aside, without a solid brief, there’s no objective against which a creative idea can be measured.

Not only that, but us creatives need a full picture in order to start working up concepts. Even if not all the information ends up in the final piece, the more we know, the better our creative response will be. We need guidance and direction, otherwise it’s a free for all and chaos reigns.

 

What should I put in a creative brief?

Here’s your creative brief checklist, try keeping it to hand on your next project and see what a difference it makes to the creative outcomes.

 

– What are the objectives and aims of the project?

What is the purpose of the project, campaign or task? Whether you’re hoping for an increase in customer acquisitions, engagement or a revenue boost, we’ll need to know so we can craft something that’ll help you achieve it.


– Who is the customer?

Who are we writing for here? If you have any data on the demographic, fork it over! Us writers and creative types need a customer profile so we can be sure that what we whip up appeals to them directly.


– What is the use case?

Is this copy/design going to sit on a landing page? Perhaps it’s an email, sent straight after the first purchase? It’s important that your creative understands where the customer is in the user journey when they’re exposed to the copy or the design. How much about the company will they know at this point? Is it all new or have they been here before?


– Any wireframes, historical examples or dev sites to share

As a writer, I like to be able to get a visual of where my copy is going to sit. If I know how much room I have and where on the design my copy will feature, I’ll have a much better idea of how to structure it.


– What are the products and services involved?

Gather together all your product spec sheets and press releases, because we wants ’em! Documents like these are a great way for us creative types to see how you specifically talk about your products and services so we can replicate the language and make sure that only ‘approved’ terminology is used. No one wants to stray off-brand or sell features that don’t exist.


– Information on your company and a TOV guidelines if possible

Lob over your company ‘about us’ page information and any tone of voice guidelines you have so that we have a strong point of reference.


– Deadlines for first and final drafts

Ask anyone that knows me and they’ll tell you that organisation is one of my favourite things ever. Having concrete deadlines for the first and final drafts are going to help your creative plan time effectively and will keep the project firmly on track.


– Competitors

Who are your main competitors? If we know who we’re up against, we can assess what their USPs are to make sure that your offering stands out and, more importantly, is unique.


That just about covers it. Don’t forget to leave your creative freelancer with an open invitation to ask questions. It’s not uncommon for creative folk to ask some strange things when they’re working on something, but I promise it’s all useful. Off you pop!

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