Taking The Pain Out Of Creating Creative Briefs

When working with a creative team to get your marketing messages across, it’s essential to get your brief spot-on. And yet this often doesn’t happen. Creative teams find themselves struggling to interpret a brand’s vision, and marketing decision-makers find themselves unsatisfied with the creative execution. Based on my experience, it’s crucial to spend the time to take a few steps back and look at the bigger picture before diving into creative brief-making.

Instead of thinking of a creative brief as a document that needs to get “filled out,” think of it as the first step in the creative process. A well-done brief documents your project’s goals and serves as a touchstone for all involved parties as projects evolve.

The checklist to a great creative brief:

1.  Craft your strategy statement. It’s essential that you can state the objective of your project in one statement, directed toward your subscriber: You should [action] because [one compelling reason]. For example, “You should [book a hotel from our company] because [you get a discount with your flight purchase].” If you can explain why a subscriber should take action, a creative team can handle the execution.



2.  Determine your business requirements and how they come into play in this project.  Ask yourself a series of important questions before you get started. Is this a brief for a new email in an ongoing weekly production, or is it for a brand new program?  Do you already have a template for the email that just needs to be filled out, or is the team starting from scratch? Have you nailed down your content and messaging strategy, or do you need the creative team’s input? 

3.  Help your creative team become experts on high-level elements of your marketing strategy, including:

  • Your objective. Let your creative team in on your goals in a specificway. Rather than just telling them that your objective is to “drive conversions,” for example, give them something specific and measurable, such as: “Currently, 5% of our customers who book flights also book hotels. We’d like to see 10% by the end of this campaign.” Goals built on measurable metric can not only guide creative but can also allow all parties to evaluate the success of campaigns.
  • Your context. How does this project fit in with the way that you’re messaging customers through other channels and through other programs? What other marketing materials should the team reference? What prior performance metrics can the team refer to? What are the Brand Guidelines around voice, color palette, font sizes/weights, etc.? What information do you have to help segment targeted sends?

4.  Give the creative team your direction, but also your trust. True direction requires that you empower the creative team to do their job – both by giving them essential info and by trusting them with the freedom they need to create something special. Once you communicate the “why” and “what” of your email campaigns, the creative team needs the power to make decisions about how to execute your vision.

You know your brand and your marketing goals. Find good creative people to work with, and then let your vision guide the results. It all starts with a great creative brief.

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