One of the great challenges is to translate business vision into creative execution. Indeed, many creative marketing projects get underway without a common set of expectations between executive leadership, marketing and creative. This can result in an extended and expensive creative development process with multiple revisions, a frustrated team, and suboptimal results. Business and marketing leaders must take time to give clear guidance to creatives while respecting their freedom for creative expression. I have found that creatives embrace guidance, of which a straightforward creative brief is a great starting point.
The creative brief should be to-the-point, just 1 to 2 pages. If you are tempted to put every idea into the brief, you’re not ready to proceed with the assignment. As a business leader, you need to be clear on your goals and objectives before you can have others act. I use the following format.
Team: It’s always helpful to identify team members, including roles and responsibilities.
Background: Every project has a history. Briefly summarize the events that led up to today. What are current market dynamics and where do you stand? How has your product or brand changed? You may include product descriptions as part of the background, or create a separate section to provide detailed product information. You should also reference key competitors as part of the background, or in its own section. What is your commentary on the competition: where are they weak and strong?
Goals: What are the top 3 goals of this project? How will success be measured? For example, you might state that your goal is to increase customer count by 25% from 100,000 to 125,000 this year, with a 5 year goal of reaching 250,000. You might also have specific goals of appealing to a target audience or distinguishing yourself from a specific competitor.
Target Audience: Provide as much information about your target audience as possible. Include both demographic and psychographic information. Think about their need-states. If you are targeting multiple segments, clearly define and prioritize your target segments.
Value Proposition: Ideally, you have already developed an on target value proposition. This is a simple statement that explains who you are targeting, what you are offering, and why they should select your product.
Differentiating Messages: Take your value proposition a step further with differentiating messages. These are the key takeaways that you want to convey to your audience. What are the key features and emotional benefits that distinguish your offering from the competition?
Call To Action: What is it that you want your audience to do? Are you creating communications to direct them to a specific purchase? Are you trying to immerse them in a brand experience? Do you want your audience to share with their friends?
Communication Media: This may seem obvious, but it is helpful to determine which media you are going to use for communications. Is this digital only and focused on web development? Will there be video aspects (online or television)? Will designs need to fit onto a smaller mobile screen?
Tone and Image: Tone is a huge deal for creatives. This will help the designer think about their color palette and overall approach. Is the tone warm, comfortable and approachable? Or is it aggressive and modern? Do you have any hero images that you are currently using that should be incorporated?
Budget and Timing: What is the overall schedule for creating this work, and when will it be launched to the public? What is your overall budget, as well as specific budgets for individual aspects of this project? What is the process for checking-in as a team and approving work?
With a clearly articulated creative brief you are ready to solicit RFP responses and kickoff a project with the full business and creative teams. A few hours of up-front work will save time in the long-run, and provide the best results for everyone involved.
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