Generated even before the actual design process begins, a creative brief is a document that organises the objectives of a client and serves as a roadmap throughout the process ahead. A creative brief tends to be short (usually about 1 or 2 pages) and it’s inward-facing, this is why it is easy to undervalue its importance.
These documents can serve several functions and actually lay the foundation for many phases of the work that will come down the road. Thus, why is it so important to have a strong creative brief? You are now starting to understand the answer.
Before we get into the exact benefits of a strong creative brief, let’s talk about the document itself for a moment. Although every company has their own approach and style when it comes to writing a creative brief, below you can see a few of the topics that are usually included:
- Client Information
- Brand Elements
- Details about the Service or Product
- Stylistic Preferences
- Deliverable Materials and Technical Specifications
- Project Timeline
Why is it that important to efficiently capture these details and other similarly relevant information?
Everyone will be on the same page
From creative directors and account managers to copywriters and designers, the creative brief is a very easy way to get all participants on a project on the same page. Particularly because not everyone will be involved with every client meeting; nor, most probably, will every collaborator be a part of the entire process from start to finish. As a matter of fact, many specialists (for instance voice-over artists or character animators) are only involved in a specific project for an extremely short period of time, and the creative brief acts like the baton in your relay race. Therefore it is very valuable to have a short, very easy-to-read, single depot that accumulates all the needed information.
Identifying what you don’t know
Even if the main benefit of the creative brief is the synthesising relevant information in one single place, the process of doing this frequently results in a subtle perk: learning things you didn’t know. Or, at the least, understanding better where your intel could be stronger. And just by making the effort to reconcile this issue, and supplement the creative brief with some additional information, you will inevitably wind up with a deeper understanding of the client’s objective.
It’s not just a database
Since the creative brief compiles different bits of information, at times it can be tempting to think of this document as something like a database. However, while it does include those relevant details, the creative brief is much more than just a collection of facts. It should capture the client’s tone as well as their brand messaging. Thus, a strong creative brief does not just parrot quotes about the product or service. It must go the extra mile, accounting for context and goals. There should be a vision to the document describing what the client wants, needs and requires.
As a result of pairing information and vision, the creative brief will begin to address the juicy stuff: messaging. By effectively tracing a starting point (information) and the desired end point (vision), stakeholders reading through the document will gain insight into the potential routes to get there. This is especially effective when there is a strong connection between brand, product and style; three factors that, when combined together, will help shine a light on the best path forward.
While we would like to believe that every second on the clock is fuelled with an equal amount of passion and energy, the truth is that this is not the real case. A professional will obviously push through the ups and downs, but it does not hurt to have an extra source of inspiration to get the juices flowing. And this, when done properly, is precisely what a creative brief can be. This does not mean that your creative brief needs to be filled with positive, motivational messages, but simply that a well-shaped document could help spark ideas. In addition to providing a spark, it can be helpful too when it comes to confirming the instincts (and provide confidence) to the employees who read it. As discussed, it is about getting people on the same page, so as to get the best out of every person involved.
Even after you have completed the project, the creative brief still remains valuable. Even if it is no longer needed on an active basis, it will most probably be useful when working on a similar project or perhaps when working with similar clients. So even when a creative brief helps lead to a jump well done, ensure you have saved the document as it will probably come in handy down the line!