- A creative brief is an invaluable investment that saves time, energy, and stress for both writers and editors.
- Content creators should feel informed, focused, and motivated after reading the creative brief.
- The creative brief should strike a balance between too little and too much information.
- Creative briefs are all about the art of delegation – don’t do the writer’s job for them.
- You can standardize your creative brief production with checklists and templates.
If you’re a control freak (and let’s face it – if you’re an editor, you probably are), creative briefs should be your dream come true. Unfortunately, a bad one is more like a nightmare. Creative briefs that are too short, too long, or just unclear are a waste of time for the editors creating them and the writers reading them.
At RMG, we’re big believers in the power of a good creative brief to form the foundation of accurate, engaging content that meets marketing goals. If you’re not convinced, pardon us while we step onto our soapbox.
What is a creative brief?
The importance of creative briefs in content marketing
Creative briefs are where good content starts. That’s because a creative brief is where you communicate marketing goals to the person responsible for meeting those goals. It’s an act of translation between a company’s dream and the reality you’ve set out to provide them.
Ideally, the creative brief should be your content creators’ bible – their ultimate resource for the desired goal, message, tone, and style of the deliverables they’re creating. When done right, creative briefs provide all the information a writer needs to create content that meets business goals. That means fewer miscommunications, and fewer mistakes for you to correct or re-write in the editing phase.
In other words, creative briefs equip writers to create quality content that aligns with marketing goals while saving you time, energy, and stress. Doing the research and due diligence to write the brief may be time-consuming, but it’s an upfront investment that’s well worth it down the line.
Your creative brief should:
Don’t assume anything about the writer’s prior knowledge. The creative brief is the first and most comprehensive opportunity to address all the fundamental marketing goals, from what’s being sold/said to who’s being addressed to how the content should address their unique needs. If you insist on Oxford commas, now is the time to mention it!
A good creative brief should strike a balance between too little and too much information. If you overload your writer with giant decks and details they don’t need, you risk diluting the message. The writer may ignore the brief altogether, or at best misunderstand what you’re saying. Either way, you’re guaranteed to receive lower quality deliverables.
Inform the writer…
The creative brief is an opportunity to share the company’s goals clearly and concisely. You want your writer to feel not only properly informed about the brand, image, objectives, preferences, target audience, and the solution being sold, but also equipped to properly convey their message and motivated to do it as best as they can.
…But not do their job
Remember, this is supposed to SAVE time. Don’t get carried away with details, or you not only risk getting in the way of the writer’s creativity, but you can also end up wasting your own time. You hired the writer for a reason, after all. Leave room for them to do what they do best.
What to include in a creative brief
What is the brand all about? If you can think of the brand as a character, the creative brief should communicate their personality, goals, and motivations, so that the writer can properly adopt their voice.
Pro tip: Thorough research is crucial here. We’ve found that using in-depth client questionnaires can provide a wealth of information not only about what the brand represents, but also their target audience, message, voice and tone. More on that below.
The target audience
Who is the brand speaking to? Try to get information not just about general demographics, but the specific buyer persona a particular deliverable may be addressed to, so that the writer can empathize with their stage in the buyer’s journey.
Let’s say you’re commissioning content for a luxury hotel. You’re likely to be targeting high-income travelers who prize comfort and luxe amenities. Your creative brief should communicate this to writers so that you don’t end up with deliverables that talk about affordability or budget travel.
It’s a content creator’s job to communicate not just who the brand is, but what problems they aim to solve and how they aim to solve them. That’s the crux of their unique message, and it should be at the forefront of the creative brief. Going back to the luxury hotel example, the message may be that customers will be traveling “in style,” “like stars,” or some other aspirational concept.
While you don’t need to put too many words in writers’ mouths, the creative brief should clearly lay out what the brand is trying to say to the customer.
The desired voice, tone, and style
Once you’ve laid out what the brand is trying to communicate, you need to lay out how the brand communicates. This amounts to their voice, tone, and style. Providing examples of the desired style and tone in copy from other brand materials, other mediums, or even competitors can be especially helpful. So instead of just saying the brand aims for a “conversational” tone, point to phrasing from previous content or elsewhere that exemplifies what the writer should be going for.
Buyer personas can also be helpful here. It’s a lot easier to figure out how to talk to a thirty-something PR consultant who reads Gwyneth Paltrow’s lifestyle blog than to write to vague specifications like “knowledgeable” or “high end.”
There are certain details about the deliverable that every creative brief should include. This makes things easier for both the writer and the editor by addressing the little things right upfront. The Content
Marketing Institute suggests the following details, which we think form a great foundation:
- The title of the piece
- The client
- The deadline
- The brief itself, including all of the above information plus a description of the piece and its purpose – for example, a list of the ten hottest travel destinations of 2019
- Specifications such as word count, formatting, run time, etc.
- Submission, i.e. how should the work be submitted and to whom
- Contact information of the editor, talent, or (if applicable) client
- Resources such as templates, style guides, questionnaires, asset libraries, or anything else required to deliver the content
Content marketing tips for a better creative brief process
Questionnaires – A good creative brief starts with a thorough research process during which you gather all information about the brand, audience, and message the content creator will need to deliver the content. We’ve found that using a standardized questionnaire to “interview” the company or client can offer great insight in an efficient way.
Checklists and templates – Like questionnaires, creative brief templates and checklists can make your life easier by giving you a clear starting point for every brief. The more briefs you write, the more you can refine your creative brief template to ensure you’re always producing the best work possible.
Still bogged down? Leave it to the experts.
We get it – just knowing what a creative brief is doesn’t necessarily make them sound any more fun. Luckily, our content marketing tips aren’t just talk – they come from lots of dedicated action. At Redefine Marketing Group, we’re obsessed with developing well-targeted, accurate content that translates clients’ messages loud and clear. And we don’t get tired of making creative briefs. Get in contact today and see for yourself.