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The Importance of the Creative Brief

MarketingSarah Thom

The creative brief, sometimes written by clients, sometimes written internally by the agency, is a fundamental element of any marketing communications campaign. The main objective of this important document is to minimise confusion and clearly define the parameters of the project for both the agency and client; ensuring that the project is completed to the correct specifications (in terms of design, purpose, budget and time limits). This further guarantees that time and money are used efficiently and not wasted.

These briefs transmit the information which has been put forward by the client, regarding the project, to the agency in a clear and concise way which means that everybody is clear on what needs to be done and when it needs to be done by, but importantly they act as a spark of insight to get the creative process going.

There are several different areas that a brief needs to address; it should clearly define what the project is, for example, a monthly newsletter, who the target audience is and the objectives which the client wants to be met by the project. At McQueenie Mulholland we see objectives as vital as they determine what success looks like to the client and act as a guideline to accurately measure the results of a given campaign.

Another important aspect of the brief is the budget; the project budget of the client is essential as it determines the scope of the campaign, how much time is spent on it by the agency and how long the campaign will last. The activity’s schedule and deadlines should also be indicated in briefs to ensure that everyone is aware of the time restrictions that are in place allowing the agency to plan accordingly. The most important component of a brief could be argued to be the proposition. We recommend that propositions are short, concise sentences, which through its brevity gets to the point in outlining exactly what the client wants the campaign to achieve. Propositions help keep the agency’s team focused.

Further information to include is: what information about the campaign do we, as the agency, know already? And the flip-side from that what information do we need to know to complete the work.

A brief can go through a variety of processes before being finally approved. At McQueenie Mulholland we first write an initial brief which is then internally circulated to our planning strategist and then our creative lead for approval. After this it is then sent to the client who has final sign off. It’s only when both the client and the agency have agreed and approved the brief that the project can begin.


Our top tips for writing creative briefs:

 
  • Keep the brief simple and to the point- excess information can take away from the objectives of the project and blur what is important
  • Invest time into it – although briefs are meant to be short and concise this does not mean that they’re not worth spending significant time on them to complete; the more work put into a brief at the beginning the more easily good work will follow
  • Don’t be afraid to ask difficult questions when writing the brief: if you are confused about an aspect of the project, don’t be afraid to ask the client or other people in your agency for the answers. It will benefit both you and the brief if you have a clear understanding of what is required
  • And finally, be creative: briefs are more than just informative, they are meant to be motivational too. So don’t be afraid to mix things up a little bit and think outside the box!