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Creative Brief: Complete Guide + Templates

Do you want to better understand your clients’ needs, reduce those annoying back and forth emails, and cut projects’ completion time by at least 20%? Then you are in the right place. Creative briefs are the best tool to accomplish everything mentioned above and take your business to the next level, no matter if you are a freelancer, agency owner, or project manager.

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What is a Creative Brief?

A creative brief is a document that defines the overall strategy and direction of a project. Its purpose is to establish the scope of the project, set deadlines, assign responsibilities, and provide a creative direction to follow.

Creative briefs are adaptive, meaning that they can change based on the type and requirements of a specific project. Redesigning a website will need a different creative brief than one about content creation and it will also differ from a video production brief.

Although there can be dozens of different creative briefs out there, the effective ones are based on a very important element:

they ask the right questions.

Without them, there is no way a creative can know what the client needs, when she should deliver what, and with whom she should communicate. By definition, a creative brief needs to extract relevant information from both the client and the creative agency.

Benefits of Implementing a Creative Briefing Process

We might be a little bit biased (we are a briefing platform ourselves) but after speaking with dozens of companies and freelancers, we realized that building a creative brief and working with clients based on it is one of the most powerful processes that a business can implement to scale.

Here are 5 benefits that you’ll enjoy:

Saves Time

Not defining deadlines, responsibilities, and a creative direction from the get-go is very time-consuming. Not just because it creates unnecessary back and forth emails and meetings, but feedback loops also increase, and in the worst-case scenario, you and your team need to reset and do everything all over again.

Creative briefs solve this problem. These documents help your client and team to be on the same page from the start, saving hours of work and cutting projects’ completion time by 20% or more.

Understand Your Clients Better

Understanding what clients need is a difficult endeavor. They usually speak a different language and most of the time they don’t even know how to explain what they envision, let alone write it down in a coherent way.

Thankfully, creative briefs solve this. If the questions included in the document are appropriate and thought out, they will help you obtain from your client the information that you need to delight them and create something they are in love with.

Brings Accountability and Clarity

Building a creative brief that details who is in charge of the project - on both the agency and the client side, important milestones, final deliverables, and when they should be handed over help bring accountability to your team and peace of mind to the client.

These elements might not be relevant to the creative direction of the project, but they are a must if you want to build a transparent and healthy work environment.

Increases Customer Satisfaction and Quality of the Work

Creative briefs are useful to put everyone on the same page - your client knows what they should receive and when they should receive it. On the other hand, your team has sufficient information to create high-quality work and knows when they should deliver it.

As a client, is very comforting to know everything about the project and it creates a superb customer experience. As a creative, having set deadlines and deliverables fosters organization and responsibility.

That’s why creative briefs are a great way to increase customer satisfaction and the quality of the work.

Reduces Rework Rate

We’ve briefly mentioned this point before but it’s important to expand on it.

How many times did you have to start a creative project all over again or revise it because your client wasn’t happy with it? If you were lucky enough to answer no, think about your colleagues. Almost every freelancer and agency suffers from it because it’s a natural consequence of not implementing an effective briefing process.

By building creative briefs that ask the right questions, you and your team will be able to better understand your clients’ needs, problems, and competition so that you can create an end product that fits their situation perfectly.

Types of Creative Brief Documents

Even though the objective of a creative brief document is to capture all relevant information from the client and project so that everyone is on the same page, not every brief is created equal.

Depending on the type of project and its specific requirements, a different creative brief might be needed. Here are the most common ones:

  • Graphic Design Template
  • Advertising Creative Brief
  • Video Production Brief
  • Website Creative Brief
  • Logo Design Creative Brief
  • Social Media Campaign Creative Brief
  • Brand Design Creative Brief
  • Influencer Creative Brief
  • Rebrand Creative Brief Template
  • Email Creative Brief Template
  • Content Creation Brief
  • Creative Agency Brief

Take into account that these are just examples, you can create your brief to fit your needs perfectly.

How to Write a Creative Brief

Writing a creative brief might feel intimidating if you have to do it from scratch but don’t worry, in this section we’ll go through a step-by-step guide that will help go from nothing to having a comprehensive creative brief, kickstarting your projects the right way.

Structure & Outline

Before diving into the specific elements of a creative brief, it’s important to understand their underlying structure. A good outline should include at least 6 sections:

  1. Project Overview
  2. Stakeholders and Responsibilities
  3. Milestones and Deliverables
  4. Strategic Information
  5. Specifications
  6. Creative Direction

Miss one of them and you run the risk of delivering something that is not truly needed or doesn’t solve the business problem your client was searching for.

Without further ado, let’s explore each component in more detail:

1st Section) Project Name, Context, and Objective

The first step when writing a creative brief is to give the project a name. Although it is easy to overlook this step, it’s of paramount importance to take some time and choose one that describes the project’s essence as closely as possible. Choosing the correct name will help your team and client avoid back and forth communication and set everyone in the right mindset.

The second step is to give some context to the project. Who is the client? What’s their story? What’s their mission and vision? This part shouldn’t take more than 2 sentences but be sure that you complete it, it will help people that didn’t participate in the briefing process.

Everything is done for a reason. That’s why the third step to building an effective creative brief is to state the problem your client (internal or external) is trying to solve and the objective of the project. Be clear and, when possible, add some reachable metrics:

  • I want my new landing page to convert 20% more
  • I want the new article to bring 200 more web visitors a month
  • I want to create a new brand logo that better communicates what we are all about

2nd Section) Stakeholders and Responsibilities

The fourth step when creating your briefing document is to define who are the stakeholders and what are they responsible for. Here are some roles for a written content project as an example:

  • Client: Complete the brief and give feedback on deliverables
  • Project Manager: Person in charge of coordinating the client, the copywriter, and the proofreader, delivering everything on time.
  • Copywriter: Writing the 2000-word article.
  • Proofreader: Proofread the article, give feedback, and suggest corrections.

Be sure to include relevant information like working hours, full name, email, and if it’s necessary a phone number.

3rd Section) Milestones and Deliverables

Once the project overview is complete and responsibilities are assigned, it’s time for the third section of the creative brief: Milestones and Deliverables.

The dictionary defines milestone as “a significant stage or event in the development of something”, in this case, your creative project. Ideally, a project would be done in one swoop, but from experience we know that’s impossible. That’s why it’s very convenient to define certain milestones - intermediate stages of the project - that your client can give feedback on so that the result solves their business need.

The other element of this section is Deliverables, which means what is going to be delivered to the client. If you are a branding agency and are designing a new logo, your deliverables might be a pdf version of the logo, an editable one, and a brand guide.

4th Section) Strategic Information

This section should contain all the necessary information so creatives can deliver an end-product that satisfies the client’s needs. Here you can include:

  • Competitors Map: Compare your client’s company with other players in the industry to reveal where they are standing at the moment.
  • Personas: If the end product is customer-facing, it might be relevant to create and develop the different personas that are going to be interacting with it.
  • Inspiring Brands: What brands your client would look to look and feel like? What you as a creative/project manager need to realize is what aspects your client is most interested in.

Don’t limit yourself to the examples below, create your own or check our templates to find inspiration.

5th Section) Specifications

Every project has specifications. New websites, for example, need a domain, a language, which platform they should be built with, and specific requirements like the ability to accept payment, a log-in feature, a contact form, and so on. Every one of them should be written down in this section.

You need to get as granular as possible when it comes to the requirements that your client needs. Getting this section wrong is responsible for at least 50% of the problems that agencies and creatives encounter down the line.

6th Section) Visual & Art Direction

Once the project overview is complete, the responsibilities are distributed, milestones are set up, the relevant strategic information is collected and the specifications are defined, it’s to give the project a visual direction.

This section aims to define the look & feel of the project. If it’s a logo, what does the client want it to look like? If it’s a blog post, which style is preferred? If it’s a web app, which one would they like to emulate?

Moodboards are a great tool to tackle this section, they provide a way for you and your client to share ideas and give a concrete direction to the project.

The Best Creative Brief Software

After reading this article, you are in a great place to write your creative brief, no matter the type of project. But what if I told you you don’t need to start from scratch?

We built HolaBrief to develop the best creative brief software out there. After doing hundreds of briefs ourselves, talking to dozens of agencies, and lots of trial and error, we’ve come up with the ultimate tool to create interactive, collaborative, and professionally-looking briefs.

You can give HolaBrief a try FOR FREE, create your brief and send it to your client in a few minutes. As simple as that!

See you inside.

Ready to create standout work in less time?

Join 1000s of agencies using HolaBrief to set up their projects for success.

Ready to create standout work in less time?

Join 1000s of agencies using HolaBrief to set up their projects for success.