A couple of weeks ago, Carrie and I had the privilege of speaking to a communication class at our alma mater, Wichita State University. Normally, when we have given these presentations like this, they have basically just been a little dog and pony show where we have talked about what we do, showed a few samples of our work and fielded some questions from the crowd of soon-to-be Marketing professionals.
This time, however, the professor asked us if we could talk a little about marketing strategy and our process for ensuring that the work we do is always on target, strategically focused and built for producing maximum results.
We were giddy.
While we love all aspects of the work we do, marketing strategy is one of our absolute favorites and this presentation gave us the opportunity to talk about what we feel is the foundation to any good strategy—the Creative brief.
If you aren’t familiar with a creative brief, it’s basically just a short document (usually only one or two pages long) that contains all of the information you need to make the most informed creative and strategic decisions possible.
In our opinion, starting any project without a creative brief is like heading out on a trip without any idea as to which direction you are going. While that kind of spontaneity can be fun, it can also be really inefficient. You’ll make a lot of wrong turns, pack swimsuits when what you really need are snowsuits and chances are you probably won’t end up anywhere you really want to be anyway.
A creative brief is your roadmap, your blueprint and your compass all rolled up in one.
There are a lot of examples of Creative Briefs out there, some more extensive than others, but the following are the main components we feel any good creative brief must have.
- Due date – This one is a no brainer, it’s imperative that you know when the project will be due for both your own scheduling needs and to help you put the overall scope of work into context.
- Brief project description – This is basically just a synopsis of what the project is all about and why you’re doing it.
- Audience – If you don’t know who you’re trying to reach there is no way you can make informed decisions on your strategy or creative execution. For this section we like to get as detailed as possible. If a client says their audience is “donors” we want to know exactly who those donors are. Are they white, African-American, Asian, Eskimo? Are they male or female? How much money do they make? What kind of car do they drive? What do they like to do on the weekend? What is their dog’s name? If possible, we want to get this to the point where we are able to envision one specific person.
- Objectives – In the past we have written an entire blog post about objectives so you know how important we think they are. To harken back to the whole trip analogy, your objectives are your destination, they’re where you want to go and what you want to accomplish. Without them, you’re flying blind.
- Production specs – From what size (or length) a piece needs to be to how many you are going to ultimately need and how they will be produced, knowing what shape the final piece needs to take helps you make smart creative decisions and prevent you from spinning your wheels.
Our final word about creative briefs is that they shouldn’t be created in a vacuum. Whenever possible, we like to sit down and fill them out together with our clients to make sure we’re all on the same page. Doing so increases buy in and ensures that we work as efficiently and strategically as possible.
Interested in seeing our version of the creative brief—or stealing it and using it for yourself? Download it here.
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