How to create
a great creative brief

Brands are built on ideas. But the creative process is messy. People of artistic temperament struggle to balance chaos and control, reason and emotion. To contain, direct and focus the powerful forces of imagination, the brand builder deploys a creative brief.

Developing an effective creative brief is an art in itself.

Try the Stepworks Creative Brief Engine and guide your team to better branding.

Successful brands are supported by creative teams of designers, artists, writers and engineers. Often these busy professionals are absent from the debates preceding the brand building initiative. To work effectively, they need to clearly understand your leadership team’s decisions and objectives.

Weak creative briefs result in weak work because no-one ever knows if an idea is really relevant.

Searching for gold

An ambitious creative professional will see your creative brief as a treasure map. The treasure they seek is a strong, relevant idea that will get noticed and achieve your stated objectives.

Strong, relevant ideas illuminate the sharply focused messages and thoughtful designs that signpost a rewarding customer journey.

But strong ideas can be risky. And weak ideas miss objectives. The challenge is striking an effective balance. Creative professionals who can reliably produce strong, relevant ideas advance in their careers because they deliver measurable value – such as increased enquiry, trial or sales.


An ambitious creative professional will see your creative brief as a treasure map.


Some paths lead to danger

Creative professionals learn from experience that not every map leads to treasure. Strong ideas are less likely to get approved if the creative brief is unfocused, too complex or asks too much.

Weak creative briefs result in weak work because no-one ever knows if an idea is really relevant. Vague directions produce a weak response. Strong ideas are easily rejected as not being quite right.

It actually takes a lot of effort to produce strong, original creative solutions that get real results. Repeated failure to produce effective work that is acceptable to management discourages the creative professional. They stop making an effort and offer tired, weak ideas that may get approved, but fail to make an impact.

The wasted resources and missed opportunities can be avoided with a clearer plan.

The Stepworks Brief Engine powers stronger ideas   

We have developed a tool to help creative teams get better briefs, and brand owners build more valuable brands. 

Wholehearted Brand Building encourages teamwork between people from different backgrounds. Our Creative Brief Engine is designed to align the understanding of your objectives and business context across brand owners, leaders and their creative teams so that they work together more effectively.

Try the Creative Brief Engine here. Just sign in and follow the directions. If you have an issue, suggestion or concern, click the Feedback button. And remember these tips:

✓ Invest more time on your promise

The most important and most challenging line in a creative brief is the Promise. Also known as the “the key proposition” or “unique selling point”.

Develop a simple, single-minded promise that engages your audience and motivates them to act. Aim for under 10 words. Only promise one thing. Spend time on this, it’s worth it.

✓ Identify a distinct audience

Don’t waste your promise on people unlikely to respond. Approach a high net worth investor differently to a new mother – even though they could be the same person. It’s much easier to appeal to people when we know who we are talking to.

✓ Be flexible and inclusive

Your creative brief is a starting point. Your creative team should respond with questions, suggestions, and maybe even a counter-proposal. This is all good. Comments from everyone involved should be welcomed.

You can’t make a movie like Titanic with a rowboat budget.

✓ Stick to the plan

Once you agree on a creative brief, be as objective as possible about the work that emerges from it. Challenge it, question it, test it. Ask for stronger work even. Try to base your comments on the success of the work at fulfilling the original objectives.

✓ Beware of like

It’s easy to dismiss work that you don’t immediately like. Again, be objective. Add references to what you like as part of the creative brief if personal expressions of taste are important.

✓ Disclose your investment

You can’t make a movie like Titanic with a rowboat budget. If the creative team don’t know your production budget they could come up with unaffordable ideas. 

Key takeaway: Effective brand building begins with effective briefing

Better creative briefs create value for your brand, especially if you work with a strong creative team. Get in touch with our wholehearted brand building team and make that first step...

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