The Creative Brief: A Map of Your Brand’s Creative Journey
The creation of a coherent brand strategy can be a long and winding journey. The process involves making decisions on the tangible aspects of your brand (logo, color palette, typography, tone, messaging, etc.), but it also includes considering the intangibles (perceptions and emotions) associated with your brand. This process takes a great deal of time and thought. A solid creative brief can act as an invaluable map and guide along this journey, as well as the blueprint for any successful rebrand, website launch, campaign, video, photoshoot, etc. Simply stated, a creative brief is a document that outlines all of the project details, deliverables, strategy, objectives and goals. It should also include background information about the company, competition, audience, and many other elements.
To provide context, our proposals contain a section called, “What we heard you say.” This section serves as an explanation of, from our perspective, the needs, wants and goals that were expressed by the client. A creative brief is essentially a detailed and outlined representation of “What we heard you say.” This helps tie the client and internal teams together on the wants and goals of the project so that we, as the agency, can meet the expectations of the client. A creative brief provides context to the developers, copywriters, designers, and other team members on what to consider when crafting ideas and developing concrete elements of a brand.
At Findsome & Winmore, we rely heavily on a creative brief prior to the start of every project, so it’s extremely important that we get it right. Not only does a creative brief set expectations between client and agency, it also creates transparency and clarity. It is the account manager’s job to extract every detail and piece of information from the client. Having a clear understanding of the brand, vision, scope and goals of the project from top to bottom sets the team (both client and agency) up for success.
Because we base our creative brief on your (the client’s) beliefs about your brand and/or product and long-term goals, it’s important to know what you should be thinking of and conscious of regarding your brand. Doing so helps us with the strategic heavy lifting in order to get your project to the finish line.
Before the start of a project, there are a number of important questions we ask of our clients that help us paint a coherent picture of their brand:
- Why should your customer buy a product, use a service, or consume your content?
- What is your brand or product’s message?
- Who is your target audience?
- What are your brand’s values? What’s negotiable and what is not?
- What is unique about your product or service?
- How does this product or service support our brand identity?
- Who is your competition and why?
- Why will your audience believe your promise?
- What is the value that you promise to deliver to the consumer?
The above questions cut to the core of your brand and have clear connections to establishing what makes it tick. However, we like to ask additional questions that, though somewhat silly, help us shape a clear character and imbue your company with something equally valuable: a coherent, believable persona. Some of these fun questions include:
- If your brand was a car what would it be?
- If your brand was a restaurant, what would it be?
- If your brand was a celebrity who would it be?
- If your brand was a song what would it be?
Remember, your brand is more than just your logo – branding takes place at every touch point or anytime a customer/client interacts or thinks about your brand. In reality, branding is controlled by your customers – it’s how the consumer perceives you. A creative brief helps keep authenticity and consistency within your brand and project. It should answer the questions of purpose, mission, vision, customer motivation, etc. of your business or product. Being able to communicate this information is a crucial step to writing a solid creative brief. As an agency, it is important for us to understand your vision and goals in order to effectively execute the project.
The final (crucial) step of the process is your (the client’s) approval of the brief. Client review and ultimate approval are instrumental in the success of the project. Keep in mind, the approval that we look for at this point is of the direction, not the creative itself. This “sign off” is key to establishing a clear understanding and it ensures that there are no “unknowns” within the project. Your approval is our green light to get started on the project, using the brief as our guide.
Below, you’ll find a resource that I hope will help generate some thoughts while planning your next project so that you can enter the kick-off phase with confidence. Just remember, together, we can develop a creative brief that coherently and succinctly embodies your brand and helps us move forward using the same “map” of the creative journey.