Advertising and Marketing Creative Brief | Guide + Template

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When switching from Google Docs to HolaBrief, I found that our briefs became significantly more in depth
- Terri Williams, Agency Founder

What is an Advertising Brief?

When I mention “Just do it”, I bet you answer “Nike”. The same goes for “Think Small”, one of the best advertising campaigns in the history of Volkswagen. Want to know what these successful campaigns have in common? It’s a creative brief. Every successful advertising campaign starts with a well-written creative brief.


A creative brief is a comprehensive document that puts your internal marketing team and external agencies on the same page when it comes to executing a successful marketing campaign. It contains a summary of the project background, your target audience, and campaign goals and needs. 

The advertising creative brief serves as a blueprint throughout the project’s timeline to put everyone in the team on the same page, and make sure there is a consistent alignment of the brand and vision both internally and externally. 

Too often though, marketers brief a campaign into their creative agency without the fundamental information the campaign needs to become iconic. So read on to discover what makes a perfect advertising brief: 

Why Your Advertising Agency Needs a Creative Brief?

Whether you’re looking for a rebrand, a new website, flyers, a product launch or any other marketing collateral, a creative brief is your main tool to ensure any campaign you come up with connects to its target audience. And it’s exactly this connection that will give you the best chance of getting the successful outcome you’re seeking from your investment. And that’s not all, here are a few more benefits of creative brief writing for your advertising agency: 


A well-written creative brief includes all essential information (every time), and aligns your marketing messages with your company’s key objectives. Consistency is key!

Make informed decisions

Creative briefs provide a deep insight into the campaign and reveal the strategic analysis conducted during discovery. Every idea or direction your team comes up with can be re-traced back to the creative brief.

Create your best work

Taking time for setting up a thorough creative brief helps to increase customer satisfaction. Analyzing competitors, positioning, brand voice, and target audience will help your team to reach a deeper understanding of the end-users.

Without a creative brief your in-house team, as well as external agencies, lack a clear vision of their target audience and what the main goals are for the campaign. This makes the creative brief one of the most essential parts of any advertising or marketing campaign such as TikTok campaigns, websites, banner ads, or promotional videos to name a few.

How to Write a Marketing Creative Brief? 5 Sections You Must Include

“Creative briefing is being seen as an expendable administrative task. Of course, it isn’t. The Creative Brief is a valuable marketing tool. Writing one is perhaps the most strategic and creative activity in which a marketer can engage. And yet, paradoxically, it is an activity threatened with extinction.” – Joe Talcott, former global marketing and creative director for Mcdonald's.

According to Talcott, if you want great work, you need to know how to write a great brief. Be aware though, that if the brief is too rushed, doesn’t contribute to the project objectives, or has little support internally, the resulting creative proposal will be incomplete or off-strategy. 

So make sure to include these 5 sections:

1) Project Overview, Background

In this section of the brief, describe the campaign in detail, giving an overall summary of what is and what isn’t needed.

Make sure you cover what the campaign is about, what the vision for the campaign is; any specific details the team needs to know, like Do’s and Don’ts, deliverables, important logistical information such as legal constraints, and of course the deadline of the project.

This section should answer these 2 questions: 

  • Why are we doing this?
  • What’s the problem the product/service is trying to solve?

2) Measurable Goals

In this section, make sure to include expectations of the goals your client wishes to reach. As a marketing manager or director, you’ll be very familiar with SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, and Relevant).

These are helpful to include in your advertising brief so that everyone in your team is working with the same objectives in mind. These must be clearly defined, and for each team member to know how their role contributes to meeting those goals.

Examples of SMART goals for a social media marketing campaign meant to increase their follower base by 20% in a year:

  • Specific: Increase follower base by 20%
  • Measurable: Publish 3 articles a day using topics with relevant metadata.
  • Attainable & Relevant: Existing data can confirm it’s realistic and achievable.

3) Specification and Requirements

Every advertising campaign needs different requirements that cross interdisciplinary teams, from creative to videographers, to developers. Including specifications from the start will help you provide the right creative solution that also fits the client’s budget, timeline, and most importantly, business goals.

A social media campaign for example needs to know details about which platforms to use, content creation requirements, what social media management tools are used, hashtags to use, etc. Whereas an advertising campaign including website banners or google advertisements, needs to know what kind of content has to be shown, who is writing the copy and is a there budget for promotion? In HolaBrief you will find ready-made specification templates for each of these projects. Explore them here. 

Make sure to collect this type of information so that marketing, creative, developers, and any external collaborators can work together to build what your client needs.

4) Competitive Landscape

A very important section of your advertising creative brief is a deep dive into your client’s competitive landscape. 

Make sure you do your research, getting a list of competitors from your client or manager isn’t enough. A lot of times it is missing some really interesting competitors. So try to create this list from different angles. The whole idea of a competitor map is to look beyond the ‘average’ competitors and start to see a bigger picture.

In HolaBrief we have an interactive competitor diagram that can be easily filled out with a drag-and-drop interface to map direct and indirect competitors for more clarity and inspiration.

5) Creative Direction

To define your project's look and feel and communicate the brand identity, a moodboard is the perfect addition to your creative brief to solidify your design vision and help you better achieve a mutual understanding with your clients.

A visual moodboard is a like a collage containing a variety of images, text, fonts, and colors  that:

As you’re still in the process of working out the project's brand identity, a moodboard will help bring things into focus, like company attributes, vision, identity, and the emotions you want the brand to convey.


As you already defined a lot of strategic direction with the creative brief, a mood board will affirm and support this. It will help you translate concepts like culture and values into tangible things, like design.


A moodboard that accurately reflects your project can act as a guide to keep the entire team focused on the brand look and feel when creating the logo, business cards, website, or other marketing materials.

A moodboard ensures that the entire team of designers, company principals, and stakeholders achieve a mutual understanding of the project right from the start.

Extra - Marketing Agency’s Creative Brief Example

A well-written advertising creative brief should at least contain the 5 sections we described above. What else should be included is: your target audience, positioning mapping, budgeting, and tone of voice. Anything short of that and you run the risk of creating a campaign on shaky foundations with too many revisions resulting in scope creep. 

If you are looking for a good example of an advertising creative brief for any type of campaign create a HolaBrief account and discover our many proven creative brief templates which you can customize to your own needs and requirements.

Here’s a small sample of what you are going to get:

Build and Download Proven Advertising Brief Samples with HolaBrief

Creating a great advertising brief takes time, collaboration, and effort. Thanks to our years of research with 1000s of agencies, you now have proven brief templates at your disposal! Building your advertising creative brief inside a living document using HolaBrief, this step becomes much more efficient. No excuses anymore for setting up creative briefs at your agency!

Each department can add, comment or edit parts of the brief (at the same time) before it’s used as a blueprint or sent over for review to the client. They don’t even have to create an account in HolaBrief, so getting input from your clients has never been easier.

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Explore More Templates

Build interactive briefs that your clients will love to fill out

Either pick from our tested templates or create custom briefs using interactive exercises like Moodboard, Customer Persona, or Competitors Map. Once done, send the link to the client so they can respond without the need to have an account.

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.