If you’ve ever started a creative project of any kind, video or otherwise, you’ve probably heard the term “creative brief.” If you haven’t, you’ve been missing out on a great planning tool to help start your project on the right foot. We’ll walk you through everything you need to know about what a creative brief is and how to use it effectively. We also created a template that you can download, edit, and fill out for your own projects. Let’s get started!
What is a creative brief?
A creative brief is a short summary that serves as a guide throughout the duration of a project to keep everyone on track and move the project forward. It outlines details like the project’s goals, timeline, budget, messaging, or other important information that should be referenced as the project unfolds.
Why are creative briefs important?
Creative briefs are important for a number of reasons. Here are a few:
- The process of developing a creative brief forces teams to align on the key details we mentioned above, like the project’s goals and timeline. Without committing to putting those components on a creative brief, you might not realize that each member of a project team actually has a different understanding of what the project is supposed to accomplish.
- The process of developing a creative brief also forces you to think through the project in its entirety. Sometimes, this might help you realize that the project’s scope is too big or that your goals are conflicting and should actually be accomplished with two projects instead of one. Without a creative brief, it’s easy to take a project day by day and ignore the big picture, unintentionally creating problems that you’ll run into down the line.
- Creative briefs are easy to reference. Throughout a project, if you need to look back at details like your established messaging points, your budget, or your target audience, everything you need has already been spelled out for you. This saves you from having to track down each piece of information individually.
- When you use a creative brief, everyone is referring to the same information to guide the project. This can eliminate any miscommunication that might arise in email threads, side conversations, or other sources of information. When everyone is on the same page that the creative brief is the guiding document, it overrules anything else that might exist with conflicting information.
- Finally, a creative brief is easily shareable. All the relevant project details are housed in one place, which makes it very simple to pass along the PDF or web link to people who might need it throughout the project, like contractors or partners. Getting people up to speed this way is much simpler than having to onboard someone to the project every time outside resources are needed.
What information goes into a creative brief?
The short answer is that your creative brief should contain any information that serves as a guide for the project and any information that will need to be referenced often. Our standard creative brief at Lemonlight, which you can download below, contains a few types of information.
Because our projects are video-centric, some of the elements we include mostly apply to video production. If you’re not working on a video project, you can adjust the intent of the question to apply to your project. For example, on a non-video project, you wouldn’t need to include the video’s intended tone, but you could include the tone for your project’s copy or the themes you want any imagery to match.
That being said, here are the pieces of information we include in our briefs.
This is where we include a few sentences encapsulating the project as a whole. If someone asked you to sum up the project in one minute, that’s the type of information our team would put here.
Here, we outline the goals of the project. Note that your goals could go a number of directions here. A goal could be to increase revenue by 25%, or to increase brand awareness, or to generate 10,000 new social media followers, or to get the word out about a new product. Regardless of the specifics, your project goals are probably related to the reasons you decided to take on the project in the first place. What were you hoping to accomplish when you decided that this project would help get there?
Many projects will end up being distributed to a distinct group of people upon completion. Your answer will be heavily dependent on what your project is. For example, if you’re creating a new brand guide to standardize company assets, your target audience is actually your own employees. If you’re creating a video to promote a new product, your target audience is the subset of consumers you think your product will resonate with. There are endless possibilities here, so it’s up to you to decide what your project’s answer is.
Because we work with clients to develop video content, we have to understand each client’s brand and industry before we can develop any materials. This is where we capture that information, but many types of projects won’t require this field.
Here, we include what our clients would like the messaging to include. Often, you can identify this component by asking yourself what you want your target audience to take away from your project. What information do you want to leave them with? What action items do you want them to take? Those pieces of information will likely be carried by your messaging. For us, this becomes the narrative that we weave through video content, but other types of projects will convey this messaging in different ways.
This field is where we capture the tone of the project’s deliverable, which for us, is the final video. You might use words like funny, straightforward, informative, sarcastic, or playful to describe your project’s tone. Note that this tone field will apply to virtually any project that contains messaging, because you’ll need to know how the messaging should sound. Whether that messaging is delivered in video format, written text format, or audio format, you’ll still need to address the overall tone.
Examples of video content
Here, we ask for examples of other video content our clients like or want to emulate. While the specifics of this field will change depending on your project, think of this area as a place to keep inspiration for the project. When you see something similar that you like or come across a past project you want to reference, drop those pieces of information here.
The timeline section should be pretty straightforward. Note when you want the final project to be completed, and then work backwards to break the project into meaningful milestones that will keep everything on track.
The budget section should also be straightforward. Depending on how important the budget component is, you can either set an upper limit and then work backwards to determine the scope of the project, or you can estimate the cost for each element of the project to come to a rough final total. The former approach works well if you have a budget that you really need to stick to, while the latter approach works well if you just want a loose understanding of how much the project is likely to cost.
Miscellaneous other information
Finally, we recommend including a “miscellaneous” section where you can keep track of any other notes that will be relevant. Because each project is unique, it’s possible you’ll have something important to include that isn’t incorporated into any of the other categories. This section is designed to accommodate that type of information.
How do you start a creative brief?
Use our template! Try filling out our template with one of your projects in mind, and you’ll become familiar with how it works and how you might need to tweak it to fit your business. From there, you can edit our brief for future projects or develop your own using ours as a guide.
We hope that helps! Your next project is sure to be a success with a tried-and-true brief to guide you.