4 Ways You Can Use Creative Briefs to Save Time, Money and Morale.

by Kirk Hasley on May 30, 17

Creative briefs are concise documents that spell out:

  • Why a certain piece of content is being created
  • What that content needs to accomplish
  • Who it is written for

Why use a creative brief?

Creative briefs can often be met by resistance by some departments. Perhaps it’s because they add yet another layer to the creative process. Or, perhaps it is because they require a little bit more work. Marketers are busy people, after all.

Marketers will often ask “Why can’t we just hold a meeting to tell the creatives what we want, and be done with it?”

The trouble is, three weeks from now (much less three months from now), will you remember exactly what you said in that meeting? And if you aren’t going to remember what was discussed that far out, can you really expect everyone else at the meeting to remember it too?

We are also assuming that everyone who is present will remember the meeting in the same way.

But as you know, recollections of past conversations can be very different. This is why we have legal contracts, why we take notes, why we record interviews and hearings. Because what one person remembers from a conversation can be a world away from what another remembers.

The reasons mentioned above are only just a snapshot of why creative briefs are so imperative. That is why we have put together five important reasons why you should use a creative brief.

1. Creative briefs increase the chances of a successful project.

Creative briefs force marketers to spell out exactly what they want, and exactly what the goal of the piece is. Yes, this requires some hard work. But it’s work worth doing. How can we expect our marketing to be successful if we can’t take the time to spell out what success would look like? Or what we want the final piece to accomplish?

The more clarity we can provide around what the final product should communicate, and the goals it should accomplish, the better the likelihood that internal stakeholders will understand, and jump onboard too.

2. Creative briefs save time.

How many times have you received the first round of content that was nothing at all like what you had originally asked for?

Most likely, you had to go back to your team for a couple of rounds of revisions and came away with multiple iterations of the same thing. Creative briefs can cut the number of revisions you’ll need in half – if not more. If your content creators really, truly, understand what you want from the get-go, and they have a written description of that request that they can go back and fact-check as the project evolves, they’re much more likely to provide you with your desired end-result. This saves you time and money.

3. Creative briefs are good for team morale.

If you’ve ever worked at an advertising agency, or experienced life on the client- side, you will know that when things go south between an agency and client, it’s not fun. Blame, distrust, and defensiveness do not make for a pleasant work environment. The quality of work often suffers as a result. Add in miscommunication to the mix, you’ve got a recipe for disaster!

By taking the time to write a creative brief, you can avoid these and many other pitfalls. To address these exact problems, and cut them off at the pass, check out our carefully curated e-book.

4. Creative briefs should be… brief.

We’ve all seen them.  Creative briefs that look more like a New York City phone book that an outline for creative.  They make a loud THUNK when they land on your desk. Sure, it’s important to give your creative team all of the information they need to do their jobs, but at some point, you’re giving them too much. Too much information often acts as a source of confusion and noise.

This is a common phenomenon, we’re not sure about what exactly we want, so we just load up on as much information as we can. It’s a type of inverted “analysis paralysis”. It’s an understandable response, but ultimately it doesn’t help us.  What we really need is clarity, not volumes of reference material.

From Visual.ly’s ebook, “Communication Breakdown: How Marketers And Creatives Can Get Along

A brief is very beneficial for marketers, too.

You don’t need to spend three days gathering stacks of information for a creative brief. Even a large, multi-month project really won’t benefit from a creative brief that’s more than 20 pages.

You can trim down your creative briefs even further if you’ve already defined your customer personas and buying journeys. This will save you a lot of time since you aren’t re-creating the wheel every time you need to write a new creative brief.

The Creative Brief in Mintent is entirely customizable for each customer.  Fields can be single-select, multi-select or open text.  In addition to insights on the content itself, this also allows for robust reporting.

Instead of a five-page description, all you need is one line to name the personas, buying cycles, or goals. The details of that particular profile should be found in a separate document (likely within your own content asset library).

What’s more, is that you don’t need to include a style guide with every creative brief. Creative teams should be given a separate, overall brand style guide. They should be savvy enough to apply that style guide to each of your projects.  If you do find the need to include supporting assets with the creative brief, you can attach (separately) as many files as needed to get the point across.

Examples are helpful.

Do you have any existing content that’s similar to what you want? If so, by all means, mention it in your brief! If you’ve already got a few pieces of content that you love, and those pieces have elements you’d like included in your new piece, link to those content assets in your brief. Write a few sentences about which elements you like and why, and how they might be used in the new piece. This type of concrete direction can be very helpful to creatives.

What to do when creatives won’t follow your creative brief.

According to that same Visual.ly study mentioned above, only 36% of marketers said their creatives are good at “following the brief.”

Sure, it’s disappointing, but it speaks to the reality of the task. Sometimes, even with a killer brief, creative teams can come back with a wild and completely off-track interpretation. Sometimes, these interpretations are good. If you’re willing to take the risk, you could end up with a break-out campaign. Or… you could have a flop.

Some managers will respond to this brief flaunting by attempting to define every possible aspect of the project. They’ll swing back to the book-length brief, and define every element of the piece down to a hyper-granular level. That rarely works. Either the creative team rebels… or they don’t – and they just hand back stilted work.

So, what’s the right solution?

Balance.

Give your team direction, but also give them some “wiggle room”. Don’t try to do their jobs for them.

If the problem continues, consider some strategic away-from-the-office time to find out how they envisage the project and find some common ground. Perhaps one good face-to-face meeting is all it will take to get everyone on the same page.

Conclusion

Working without a creative brief is like trying to hit a target you can’t see.  Sure, you could get lucky. But why risk it?

Creative briefs don’t need to take a lot of time to create. They don’t cost much to create either. If you’re a Mintent customer, you already have a completely customizable one at your disposal within your content development system.

Sound familiar?

Need some more direction? Check out our blog post, “Creative Brief Template: 7 Questions That Can Save You Hours of Revisions”, which will give you more specifics on what to include in your briefs.

Does your organization use creative briefs? Have they improved your content development process? We’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment and tell us what you think.