A creative brief (also known as a design brief) is the best way to communicate key elements and objectives of your creative project. A great brief can lead to the most imaginative and effective campaigns. Use this free creative brief template as the starting point to working with agencies, freelancers, writers, communications teams, and web design shops.
The creative brief template below is the same one that I use for all of my projects. It provides key design considerations and a list of questions that will help describe your project or campaign. As the subject matter expert for your project, you are best suited to explain relevant details about the target audience, key messages, and brand guidelines. It can take time to complete a thorough creative brief, but you will save a lot of time over the course of the project and most likely result in top quality, high impact creative work.
It is also important that you sit down and discuss your creative brief with your design or creative team. Give them inspiration and share your knowledge, but avoid prescribing the creative elements. Or as the excellent creative brief guide from AdCracker.com says,
Great advertising and design briefs have insights and anecdotes – quotes from buyers, interesting stories about the company, key research findings. Stuff like that.
Bummer briefs are incomplete, or dictate the creative, or use ambiguous language. Fluff like that.
Here is the creative brief template that I use. You may download a MS Word or Adobe PDF version.
Download Creative Brief Template – MS Word (.docx)
Creative Brief Template
Provide a brief description of project and the expected deliverables. Keep this overview to just one paragraph as this is the creative brief only. Additional details can be referenced in the Resources section.
List 2-3 desired outcomes and strategies for success, including measurable results if possible.
Schedule and Budget
Identify the target due date for the finished project and any event date driving completion. Also include major milestones or checkpoint dates that occur during the creative and production process.
Provide budget information for the project as appropriate.
Target audience is the most important part of the creative brief. Describe the target audience and all relevant characteristics that will help “put you in the audience’s shoes”.
Provide the following types of audience information:
- Audience types – relevant industry, market segment description
- Buyer types – relevant description of individuals by role business decision maker, technical buyer, marketing, sales, etc.
- Key motivations – What makes them act? What emotion can we connect with?
- Key issues – What are their problems that we can solve?
- Characteristics – Where do they access information? What types of media do they consume?
- Demographics – gender, age, etc.
Present information that can be used in developing the creative:
- Benefits and features
- Facts and proof points – rank by a credible 3rd party, major milestones
- Testimonials, case study examples
Call to Action
What action do you want the audience to take? Where do they go or click?
Identify any requirements and brand considerations that impact format, copy, and visual elements, including:
- Format – web, print, video, sound
- Layout – considerations in accordance to brand guidelines
- Tone – personality or voice that resonates with the audience or as required in accordance to brand guidelines
- Visual – color palette, typography, graphics, photography, logos, icons
- Localization – any language or regional considerations or requirements
Link to additional resources and reference materials that can be researched during creative development, including:
- Brand guidelines
- Existing source materials, including business plans, technical documentation, or websites.
- Competitive analysis
- Benchmarks or best of breed comparable examples
- Legal considerations
Feel free to download the MS Word or Adobe PDF versions of this creative brief template.