How to write an effective creative brief

David Ogilvy, the legendary advertising executive is famous for many quotes.  One of his best is “Give me the freedom of a tight brief”. The point he was making with this quote is, the tighter and more detailed the brief, the easier it is for a creative agency to achieve a client’s marketing objectives.

Unfortunately, when small business owners try to brief their own campaigns, they often fall short of providing creative agencies with enough information to do the job properly. They provide verbal briefs that are as basic as “I need a new logo”. Saying this is like telling a mechanic to fix your car without telling what the problem is. They will waste their time looking at the whole car and not focusing on the problem at hand.

As we say in the marketing world, your results are only as good as your brief. To make yours effective, you must make sure your brief covers these six key areas.

Where are you now?

This is the first question you must answer. Your brief should begin by painting a picture of where your product or service is positioned in the market. The type of questions you should answer are: what are the key features and benefits of your product or service? What are you currently doing to market your business? Who are your competitors?

This is your opportunity to give a complete background of your business so the receiver does not waste time (and your money) having to search for this information.

Where do you want to be?

Every brief must have objectives and you must spell them out. Don’t just say you want to be “number one in the market”. Make sure you provide objectives that adhere to the SMART principle: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-specific.

What is your strategy to get there?

Every campaign must have a strategy to achieve its objectives. Here, you provide clarity on how the element you are briefing fits into the overall marketing plan.

You may have a few agencies working on separate parts of the campaign such as public relations, website, and direct mail. This section gives you the opportunity to spell out your brand positioning and identify the key messages you are using across your campaign, ensuring everything produced is consistent.

Who is your ideal customer?

The purpose of any creative piece is to convince your ideal customer to take action. You need to spell out who this is in your brief. Additionally, if you have market research that supports your view of your ideal customer, then it is a good idea to share it in the brief at this point.

What does success look like?

Measurement is a key part of any piece of marketing. Here, you must outline what you hope to achieve with the brief and how you will measure it. The aim is to communicate the vision so the agency can make sure you get there.

Outline the practicalities

The final part of your brief is the practicalities. These are details such as budget, deadlines, and timing for when the campaign needs to be in the market. You should also be clear on who is approving the work and who is making the decisions.

A great brief really is the cornerstone of any good marketing campaign. As David Ogilvy says “Give me the freedom of a tight brief” and ensure a better outcome for your marketing campaign.

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