Show Me Your (Creative) Briefs

November 2018

Creative briefs are only as good as the effort put in. When kicking off a branding project, a creative brief is extremely valuable. Within this brief, the scope of work for a branding project should be tailored based on the goals and expectations of each client. According to Mollie Rosen, EVP Agency Relations and Membership at the American Association of Advertising Agencies, highlighted that "a well-written brief is at the crux of great creative output." 

“When it comes to marketing strategy and creative execution, the output is only as good as the input, so you need the right people in the room making sure you’ve asked the right questions early enough upstream to help set up for success downstream.”

Take this example: you as a client are looking for a chef and get in touch with the famous Jacque Pepin. There's several creative (culinary) briefs that you, as a client, can send his way.

1. "Cook us a dinner." 

There's very little parameters or direction here. Without the specifications, he'll have to come up with a concept himself.

2. "Cook us a dinner with duck, potatoes, and vegetables."

Although we've narrowed the scope with specific foods, there's still no direction provided.

3. "My in-laws are coming in to town for a last minute anniversary weekend, and I don't have the time to cook." 

Here, we find a problem that needs to be solved. With an obstacle of insufficient time, Jacque will be required to come up with the dinner concept himself but now there's a clearer problem that he'll need to solve.

4. "We have to be mindful of gluten allergies and vegan options to the meal. We'd like a mix of meat heavy (steak) and vegetable only options (squashes and root vegetables that are in-season)." 

Jacque how has direction but he's limiting creatively in what dishes he can cook.

5. "Create a meal that celebrates the love and romance of a 30-year marriage that is carried through their family's lineage." 

There's now a theme and goal of creating an ambiance for this last-minute anniversary dinner. Jacque has the creative direction with a goal in mind but has the freedom to choose what types of dishes he creates.


Internally, a creative brief provides the baseline for the entire creative team to be on the same page. In order to maximize the efficiency in your brief, here's your checklist for the top items that need to be included.

Uber's Rebrand

Photo Credit: Tech Links Daily

In Uber's recent rebrand (poignant for some), one can imagine how their creative brief read. Women@Forbes Contributor, Emily Fields Joffrion writes in her open letter to Uber's CMO, Rebecca Messina: 

"If the goal of the creative brief was to make Uber’s logo less masculine and more approachable and inclusive to a global audience, why not choose one of them to tell the story of their work and gain the recognition and notoriety that is almost always reserved for men? By choosing spokespeople who don’t represent the audience you are trying to include, you automatically bring into question the authenticity of the project and the intent. It feels like "femwashing."

So when it comes time to drafting your creative brief, take your time in making it clear, concise and insightful. Don't have your end goal become a thesis paper filled with paragraphs and monotonous filler text. Maximize the efficiency within the document. If your reader doesn't leave with a clear understanding of the value prop, target audience, and call-to-action, then it's time to revisit, and reintroducse the creativity back into your brief.

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