Business

6 Reasons Why It’s Important to Have a Strong Creative Brief

Claude Harrington 02.08.2016

Generated before the design process even begins, the creative brief is a document that organizes a client’s objectives and serves as a guide throughout the process ahead. Since creative briefs tend to be short (about 1-2 pages) and because they are inward-facing, it can be easy to undervalue their importance. But these documents can serve many functions and lay the foundation for several phases of the work that will come down the road. So today we’ll discuss six reasons why it’s important to have a strong creative brief.

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Before we get into the specific benefits of a strong creative brief, let’s quickly talk about the document itself. Although every firm has their own approach to writing a creative brief, below are a few of the topics that are typically included:

  • Client Information
  • Technical Specifications for Deliverable Materials
  • Details about the Product/Service
  • Brand Elements
  • Stylistic Preferences
  • Project Timeline

Why is it so important to effectively capture this information and other similarly relevant information? Because…

1. Gets Everyone on the Same Page: From account managers and creative directors to designers and copywriters, the creative brief is an easy way to get all project participants on the same page. Especially because not everyone is going to be involved with every client meeting; nor, most likely, will every contributor be a part of the process from start to finish. In fact, several specialists (i.e. a character animator, a voice-over artist) are only involved in the project for a very short period of time, and the creative brief is like the baton in your relay race. So it’s valuable to have a short, easy-to-read, single depot that accumulates all the relevant information.

2. Helps Identify What You Don’t Know: Although the primary benefit of a creative brief is the synthesizing key information in a single place, the process of doing so often results in a subtle perk: realizing what you don’t know. Or, at the least, realizing where your intel and understanding could be stronger. And by making the effort to reconcile that issue, and supplement your creative brief with additional thought or information, you’ll inevitably wind up with a more comprehensive understanding of the client’s objective and better determine how you can assist with that.

3. More Than Just a Database: Because the creative brief compiles several bits of information, it may be tempting to think of the document as something like a database. But while it does indeed include those relevant details, the creative brief must be more than just a collection of facts. It needs to capture the client’s tone and their specific brand messaging. As a result, a strong creative brief doesn’t just parrot quotes about the client’s product or service. It needs to go the extra mile, accounting for context and objective. Simply put: there should be a vision to the document. A vision—describing what the clients wants, requires and needs—that is clear enough to inform all stakeholders from start to finish.

4. Conductive to Effective Messaging: As a result of pairing vision with information, the creative brief will begin to address your overarching responsibility: messaging. By successfully tracing a starting point (the information) and the desired end point (the vision), stakeholders reviewing the document will gain insight into the possible routes to get there. This is particularly effective when there is a strong link between product, brand and style; a trio of factors that, when combined together, can help shine a light on the best path forward.

5. Inspiration (and Confirmation): While we would all like to believe that every minute on the clock is fueled with an equal amount of energy and passion, the truth is that those things tend to ebb and flow. A professional, of course, will push through the ups and downs, but it never hurts to have an additional source of inspiration to help get the juices flowing. Which, when done well, is exactly what a creative brief can be. This does not mean that a creative brief should be filled with positive, you-can-do-it messages, but simply that a well-shaped and thoughtful document could help spark ideas. And in addition to providing a spark, it can also be helpful as a means to confirm the instincts (and provide confidence) to employees who read it. Once again, it’s about getting everyone on the same page, so as to get the best out of everyone involved.

6. A Reviewable, Recorded Document: Even when you’ve completed a project, the creative brief still maintains value. Although it is no longer needed on an active basis, it can be useful when working on similar projects or working with similar clients. It can be a reminder of what we right before, and provide insight into what might be needed to ensure a similar success going forward. So even when a creative brief helps lead to a jump well done, make sure to save that document as it might come in handy down the line!

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