How to write a strong creative brief

March 31, 2021


How to Write a Strong Creative Brief

Input determines output in our business. And while you could say the same for anything worth doing in life, professionally or personally, it’s an important point to remember when embarking on a marketing project with an agency. Why? Because the work produced is only going to be as strong as the creative brief provided.

No-one knows your business better than you and when you combine your expertise with an agency that specialises in branding, marketing and design, you’ve got a winning combination. The strength of your project’s success starts with the creative brief. And you can’t underestimate its power. The creative brief is designed to provide focus because it ensures you and your agency are on the same page right from the start. And because you’re both in alignment, you can potentially save time and money because expectations are clear and you know what needs to be achieved.

Not all creative briefs are created equal. Some agencies will supply a briefing form for you to fill out before a project begins. Other agencies may prefer to talk. Whatever the case, Algo Mas Communications Account Manager Briony Petch runs through the key questions to consider before meeting with an agency to discuss your next marketing project:

What does my business do?

A good agency will need to get to know your business. And you’re the expert. Explain the products or services you sell, why the business started and how long it has been running. There’s a story behind every business. What’s yours?

What makes my business different?

This is your special sauce. In ‘marketing speak’, it’s called a unique selling proposition. Is there something that sets your products and services apart from your competitors? Is there a claim you can make that no one else can? Why would a consumer choose you over another brand?

Who is my competition?

If you’re in the red corner, who’s in the blue one? It’s important to know who is in the ring with you. Think about why these brands are your fiercest rivals. Review how they market themselves and how you compare. Are there opportunities to elevate your brand above the rest?

What problem do I need help with?

What marketing collateral needs to be created? A business capability statement? A re-brand? A new website? Agencies know you don’t have a bottomless pit of money so set priorities and allocate money over a series of years if that’s what it’s going to take to do the job right.

What do I want this work to mean for my business?

You already work in business so you understand goals and objectives. Are you trying to raise brand awareness? Drive sales? Generate registrations of interest? Increase your social media following? Whatever they are, make them SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound.

Who do I want to have buy my products and services?

Think about your target audience. Who they are (e.g. how old they are, where they live etc.) and how they behave (e.g. what platforms they use to find information)? Define exactly who you want to have buy your products and services. And for the record; it’s impossible to appeal to everyone.

Do I need to give the agency any guidance on how our brand needs to be applied?

Ah rules. One of life’s ‘necessarily evils’ and so important to effective marketing. Do you have any existing brand guidelines outlining how your brand is to be used? Bring them to your meeting if you do. If you don’t, read why you need to develop some pronto.

Do I need to give the agency any guidance on how my business brand sounds?

The best brands have well defined personalities. What’s yours? Brands adopt personalities, or personas, to appeal to their target audiences. The personality your brand adopts will determine the words and tone of voice you use when communicating with your customers.

What can I give the agency to help create what I want?

What assets do you already have that your agency can use? If you have your logo in various formats, access to a library of images which you have consent to use or existing copy for a brochure, you’re off to a great start because you can save time and money. Any existing research, or target audience insights, you can provide will also help produce collateral that connects with your customers.

What do I want created?

So you need a brochure. Easy. But what size? A1, A2, A3, A4, A5 or A6? Portrait or landscape? Colour or black and white? Would you like your brochure printed? If you do, how many copies and what kind of paper would you like to use? This is not the Spanish Inquisition but it is important to let your agency know what you want. Bring examples to your meeting.

What is the look and feel I’m going for?

It’s good to have some general ideas about how you want your new marketing collateral to appear. Are you going for a traditional or modern feel? Would you prefer more pictures than words in a brochure? Are there any ‘must have’ inclusions e.g. a website address or industry partner logos?

How much do I want to spend on this project?

It’s the elephant in the room but it has to be discussed. Setting a budget means your agency knows the space it’s playing in and all expectations are met. If you’ve got a small amount to spend on a brochure design and reprint, it’s unlikely an agency would suggest a leather cover with a foil stamp.

How much of this project do I want to manage myself?

You’re a busy person so how much, or how little, you want to be involved is up to you. A good agency will be able to manage printing and production if you need it. These expenses will need to be factored into your quote so let your agency know if this is something you’d like them to handle.

When do I need everything ready by?

Are you needing marketing collateral for a launch, expo or event? Let your agency know your timeframes for delivery so you have everything in time. 2020 taught us all to expect the unexpected so allow some extra ‘fat’ in your timeline in the unlikely event of a delay.

See? It’s not so hard is it? With a little bit of time, and a little bit of thinking, you’ll have your next creative brief nailed in no time. And don’t worry if you can’t come up with answers to all of these questions. A good agency with marketing, branding and design experience can explore them with you. And by getting your next project off to a good start with a strong creative brief to support it, we’re confident the only surprises along the way will be good ones.

 

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