If you’re a small business owner or artist, you may have already discovered that writing a creative brief for a project isn’t an easy task - especially if you haven’t done it before. Knowing what to include and whether you’re “doing it right” is difficult. Here are a few tips on how to approach it, some necessary requirements and a basic checklist, before you engage your agency or production partner.
Every project begins for one reason or another. Defining your desired outcome and boiling it down to its simplest form is the best way to set upon any creative project.
Once defined, this will act as the project’s anchor throughout every stage, from conceptualisation though to completion. Some common examples of outcomes include: increased sales, brand/product awareness, brand building, brand refresh, increased website traffic and social media growth.
Being as specific as possible with your desired outcome is key, and all the regular guidelines for goal setting (SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound) applies here.
For example, if you are a clothing brand, rather than landing on “Grow our social media following”, a better desired outcome would be “Increase our follower count on instagram by 20% within 3 months”. For a music artist, this may look like “receive 200 pre-orders of our latest album within 2 weeks of our music video release”.
If you have any initial ideas around what you would like your final deliverable(s) to look like, this is always worth sharing.
Communicating a creative vision is difficult. Even Hollywood directors often cite the struggle to effectively convey their ideas to studio’s and investors as their greatest challenge. Most people in the creative industry are visual learners, therefore visual aids are hugely helpful in communication. For this reason, we will use visual references (commercials, images, artwork, movies) when it comes time to present our creative proposal to the client. As an agency, these are equally useful to receive from a client who already has ideas about their project pace, visual style, cast, themes, etc.
A small amount of research and reference gathering can go a long way to ensuring everybody is on the same page when entering into a new project.
Communicating a budget is key for any project, especially those moving at pace. During the conceptualisation phase, this streamlines the process by eliminating the time spent dreaming up and pitching expensive, VFX intensive super-bowl commercials, when all you’re really after is a small social media campaign. In short, setting a budget is the quickest route to defining the project scope.
When deciding on a budget, the best place to start is with our previously mentioned consideration; desired outcome. If your next music video will be pioneering the release of a new album and artist’s personal brand, it may be worth budgeting high. Alternatively, if you’re simply updating your followers on a new app feature, wanting to maintain consistency within your high-end media but foresee little financial ROI, it may be worth budgeting lower.
Making a piece of YouTube content marketing, TV commercial and a Music Video involve similar processes, but can be vastly different in terms of their inherent constraints. For example, YouTube video’s benefit from a long run time, TV commercials incur a fee the longer the runtime is, and Music Videos take on the length of the song they accompany. While we believe it’s possible to execute a big idea in a short space of time, the way you choose to distribute your provided creative work will be fundamental from the initial stages. While runtime is undoubtably the largest consideration, with the advent of new media platforms, there are now additional constraints which include aspect ratio, average viewing size, language barriers, cultural considerations and more.
Giving some thought to your end distribution of the media is essential information from the beginning of any project, big or small.
If you can summarise your brand in a few lines, this is great to include. If you have a brand guidelines document, it’s recommended to send this over alongside your brief. While creatives should be perfectly capable of painting a picture of your brand by looking at your current assets, it’s always useful to get the inside knowledge, should the brand be heading in a new direction visually or tonally. Nailing brand consistency when embarking on a new project is an important aspect of white label creative, and presents potential confusion among your customers/fans.
How you choose to format your brief is entirely up to you! We recommend including everything listed above in one document in as much detail as possible. Other than that, make it as colourful and garish or bland and drab as you like. Write it in word, notes, or mockup in Indesign; whatever you prefer. While you may not have the answers to all of the above, it’s worth considering them before approaching an agency and including what you can in the brief. Doing this makes the processes of conceptualisation and quotation much more efficient. We believe it’s worth putting in a small amount of time to prevent problems further down the line. As is often said - fail to prepare, prepare to fail!