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How To Write Creative Briefs That Actually Work (Free Template Inside)

Updated: Apr 19, 2023

The often unsung (or worse) neglected hero of effective marketing is the creative brief. While humble in design, it's paramount to success. But, in the face of everything else you need to worry about when running your business, trying to figure out how to write a good creative brief is... well... a pain.


But no pain, no gain, right?


Well... not exactly—at least I'm going to try and make it as painless for you and your freelancer as possible. As a professional freelance copywriter, I've filled out and written my fair share of creative briefs, and I've learned a LOT about what works and what doesn't, and I'm gonna share that good stuff with you. :D


This post explains...


So, if you want to be a project management prodigy, and ensure every project has the best chance of success... you know what to do.


(cough-cough keep reading please cough-cough)


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Why Learn How To Write A Good Creative Brief?

Creative briefs are an invaluable tool for both creative professionals and their clients. I can’t over-emphasize how important they are to a productive and pleasant relationship. Here are a few reasons why...




1: They ensure everyone is on the same page

Nothing bottlenecks a project faster than a lack of clarity. When people aren't on the same page (figuratively and literally), it's going to be almost impossible for all the moving parts to find a rhythm.


Creative Briefs are one of the best ways to make sure all of your collaborating departments understand the goals, metrics, and people their marketing to—which helps with consistency and optimizing workflows.




Pro tip: Consider hosting a meeting (I know, but this one honestly shouldn't be an email) with your marketing team to review the brief. This lets people identify potential gaps in info and ask the questions that fill them.


This real-time debrief allows your team to update the CB as you clarify things and answer questions. While most folks see meetings as a bit of a time drain, having a live creative brief meeting can actually be shockingly efficient (especially if your team is new to the art of creating creative briefs.)


2: They make onboarding freelancers and in-house hires easier

Clear creative briefs eliminate a lot of back and forth. When you learn how to write a good creative brief, it gives your new hire (freelance or otherwise) a steady jumping point. This leg-up allows them to efficiently merge their workflows with yours, and keeps productivity at a consistent pace.


3: They provide intimate details about your goals and audience

It’s the fastest and easiest resource that your freelancer has to help eliminate guesswork and confusion. Briefs tell freelancers almost everything they need to know about who you are, what your goals are, and who you're customers are. And they can refer to it over and over again 24/7. It's the gift that keeps on giving.


Note: Be extra detailed when talking about who your customer is. Write down everything you know about them—no matter how trivial the information may seem at the time. There is no such thing as too much information when it comes to marketing.



4: They make you ask important questions about your brand

Writing a creative brief gives you the chance to really think about who you are as a brand, and what you want to achieve with your marketing campaigns. Each brief is a new opportunity to build your business's reputation, reach a sales goal, or deliver value.


When you start trying to describe the "thing" to someone else, you might notice info gaps or areas that need some clarity. I'll say it again:


There's no such thing as too much information.




The Actual "how to write a good creative brief" section ;)



(Still here? Oh, wow... cool... that's, dope. Thank you!)


Anyway, while creative briefs don’t have to be complicated, it's vital that you answer any and all questions regarding:


  • The project scope (what the project is, why you're doing it, how it will be distributed)

  • What you want to achieve (KPIs, milestones, etc)

  • Your Deadline expectations and milestones

  • Absolutely every detail you can provide about who your target audience is


And that's just the beginning...


Here are some non-traditional elements and tips on how to write a good creative brief.


Include an "I hate this" list

Just as important as what you like is what you don't like. You don't have to call it an "I hate it" list, but this section is an incredibly valuable piece of information for your team. You can include things like:


  • Words you don't want used in the copy or associated with your brand



  • Brands you don't want to emulate (for example, lots of folks LOVE Duolingo's hyper-bold brand voice—but if you don't, share that with your team so they know to avoid overly-punchy copy/design)





Describe the emotions you'd like YOUR CUSTOMER to feel

Good marketing gets to the heart like a vampire hunter with a stake... except nobody drinks blood... or dies...


Okay, maybe that wasn't the best metaphor.


But the reality is, effective campaigns trigger your customers' feelings (and that's why it's crucial to keep your marketing efforts ethical.) When writing out a creative brief, use words and phrases describing how you'd like people to feel after interacting with your brand.


For example: Ask yourself if you want them to feel safe, or empowered, or amused?



Use a template to optimize your workflow

Once you've mastered how to write a good creative brief, save yourself time by turning it into a template. I like to use Google Forms because I like how easy it is to share with clients and how it tracks everything.


BUT...


If you'd like to cut out a BUNCH of work, I've created a free template that you can customize to your liking or use as is for all of your projects!


Provide Inspiration

Show don't tell is a writer's sacred creed—and it applies to marketing, too. Put together a mood board full of designs, ads, and brands you like. This is especially helpful if you find some reference similar to the project you're working on. You can do this via apps like Pinterest or Miro, etc.


Go Grab a Coffee

You did it! You made it to the end and now you're armed with some awesome tips to help you write amazing creative briefs that make sure all of your campaigns have a solid foundation.



Now go forth and conquer your next campaign—you got this!


Not quite ready to hire a copywriter but know it's time to upgrade the quality of your content marketing?


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