Learning how to write a creative brief can be difficult. A great design can make or break you. A website with ugly imagery is not going to convert as well as something beautiful. Advertising in the paper or on a billboard on the side of the highway only gets one shot to impress the viewer and stick with them, presentation is everything. As new design projects approach you, it’s easy to get lost in the numbers of it all – impressions, conversion, ROI, awareness, etc., and then just pass it off to a creative team to work out the rest. But, your designer can’t read your mind. If you’re the kind of person that has ever said “I’ll know it when I see it” to your creative team – you need to start following the tips on how to write a creative brief below. They’ll thank you, and your project will turn out just the way you want.

How to Write A Creative Brief 

1. Define the Goal of the Project

The first thing you need to know about how to write a creative brief is what you want your ad (or website design, or logo) to do. For example, If you’re wanting to promote a specific product or event, spell that out clearly. If you’re wanting to show seasonality, mention you are wanting the ad to be themed elements for summer or the holidays.How do you want the viewer to respond to the design or campaign?

Are you looking for brand awareness? How do you want the viewer to respond to the design? Are you looking for brand awareness? Do you want a CTA that leads to a website or a phone number? You have to understand in your own mind what you want out of the ad and be able to communicate that to the designer, too.

Try following this format for your briefs:

  • Project Title.
  • Project Type (website, print ad, social post, billboard, etc.).
  • What are we promoting?
  • Any known themes.
  • Goal of CTA (what do you want the customer to do/feel/think because of the ad/evoke questions).

2. Brass Tacks

Outline what you expect to pay for the work to be done, and give the designer a deadline for when you need an initial proof and a hard deadline for the finished project. This will help the designer prioritize and let you know right away if there will be any issues with the timeline.

3. Make Sure the Designer Understands Your Brand

three young creative people discussing ideas in an office

Especially if you’re working with a new web design or media agency or someone who hasn’t worked with your brand before, you need to have a strategy or kit ready to go that gives them all the tools they need to build an ad that reflects who you are.Build a folder or separate document that includes brand standards, templates, and guideline writings for the designer to refer to. Have a small questionnaire, no more than four or five questions to answer, for whomever writes the briefing.

Build a folder or separate document that includes brand standards and guidelines for the designer to refer to. This should include:

  • High-quality vector copies of your logo.
  • Color palette.
  • Company mission statement.
  • Important company values.
  • Personality traits.
  • A brief description of products and services.

4. Describe Your Audience

person choosing their target audience

In the brief, you’ll want to describe the specific people you want this ad to reach, like a teacher introducing them-self to their students. Give the designer a brief description of the customer persona you’d like to speak to, including their gender, age, income, and any other relevant demographic information; Create a PDF sample with all the information to have on hand.

This is a great place to go in-depth about what you want the audience to get out of the ad, and what concern you’re encouraging them to address by picking up the phone or visiting your website. This is also a good spot to include information on the publication, outlet, or medium the design is going to.

5. Have All Your Specs Upfront

There is nothing more frustrating for a designer than creating an inspired and beautiful design, and then finding out the sizing information samples they’ve been given is all wrong, or having to work through a list of edits because of misunderstood parameters. You’ll be adding expensive hours to your branding design budget if you don’t have all your ducks in a row upfront.

Make sure your creative brief includes:

  • Sizing – make sure all ads with size requirements indicate their width x height measurements.
  • Color Type – let the designer know if this will be a print piece (CMYK) or digital (RGB).
  • Bleed? – This is usually an issue for printed projects, and the vendor you’ll be ordering from can tell you all about it.

6. Provide Examples

I have found that this gives me the best results. Either show a video or send a download in am email.  Think about what you’re looking for – do you want a design with a beach theme? Google it! Google image or wiki-how forms search for keywords related to the design you want – even if you’re just searching for something like “elegant print ad”. Start with those images or graphic, see if there are any you like and adjust your search from there, this is a great free way of finding ideas. Save or copy and paste anything that really speaks to you and include it in the briefing.

7. Avoid at All Costs

Finally, maybe one of the hardest lessons of learning how to write a creative brief, is to make sure you let the creative team know at the beginning of the project (or remind them) of anything you definitely don’t want them to do. This might be certain language or styles, colors or imagery that you specifically think clashes with your brand or that you just don’t want to see.

And that’s it! Now you know how to write a creative brief. You don't need to utilize leo-burnett.com or ogilvy.com for your marketing or writing form. Really the most important thing you can do is build concrete concepts of what you want in the end. However – don’t let this backfire on you! Do these things knowing that the designer will use this information to build a design or genres to your specs, so be specific but also don’t be surprised when they give you exactly what you want! With this template definition in mind, you're on your way to understanding how to write a creative brief, and get better designs on the first try.

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