Creative Brief

23 Creative Brief Development

A creative brief is a document for the in-house creative team or external designers, and the overseeing NPO director, that provides a clear objective and explains the overall concept of the campaign in question. In other words, the creative brief is like a game plan—without it, the campaign may not be successful. Of note, a creative brief does not require the use of a particular writing style, such as AP style. However, grammar, spelling, punctuation, and concise writing are still very important. Here are several broad categories to consider when completing a creative brief.

Effective Briefs Are…

Clear about the objective

A S.M.A.R.T. Objective is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Results-focused, and Time-bound. The objective will help provide structure and guidance throughout your assessment, ensure good communication among you and any organization members, and will better identify what you wish to accomplish.

  • Specific: When setting your objective being clear and specific will help focus your efforts. You can use the essential “W”s as a starting point to draft your goals; including who, What, When, Why.
    Measurable: Your objective should be measurable so that you have tangible evidence you’ve accomplished what you set out to do.
  • Achievable: The objective should be realistic, and possible to achieve. It may help you to break down the steps of your assessment into smaller stages, and establish a timeframe to allow you to carry out those steps.
    Results-Focused: Your objective should be aligned with the strategic outcomes of your department/organization, and focus on results.
  • Time-Bound: Finally, you should have a target date in mind – with a deadline to work towards you create a practical sense of urgency for your organization.

Focused and direct

Clearly express creative brief helps the organization keeps an eye on all the content easily without losing direction. Use a short paragraph to summarize the content.

Logical and brutally truthful

Being truthful can help the organization know all the full truth of a matter which will solve the deep issue.

Rich with emotional insight

Having emotional insight can resonate with customers, such as Snickers expresses that “you’re not you when you’re hungry.” Create a real insight around a consumer, or a product, or even the market.

In sync with the overall brand

Ensure that overall brand message of product, service, or organization are related to customers or prospects and remain consistent over time.

Contain consistent information of product or service

The result of information provided by the client, the agency team, and any primary/secondary research available about the product or service.

A creative brief should be brief, inspire those that read it, and be visually engaging.

Example: An Effective Brief

The following creative brief created by Abby for Townsite Brewing Co displays all the characteristics of an effective creative brief.

An accessible version is also available for download here: Creative Brief for Townsite Brewing Inc – Accessible Version [PDF]

Creative Brief Image Page 1.
Creative Brief for Townsite Brewing Co. Page 1. Click to view image full size.
Creative Brief image page 2.
Creative Brief for Townsite Brewing Co. Page 2. Click to view full size.

Make sure your creative brief is complete, descriptive and thorough with convincing information. It should also include:

  • A compelling offer for the creative team to work on or provides them with guidelines so they can develop a solution to your problem
  • A focus on your audiences’ needs instead of your own

Depending on the project, your creative brief may include:

  • Executive Summary
  • Marketing Communication Goals
  • Marketing Objectives
  • Target Audience Profile
  • Unique Selling Proposition (USP)
  • User Value Proposition (UVP)
  • Brand Personality
  • Marketing Strategy
  • Marketing Materials


The one-page creative template linked below provides an overview of the elements that make up an effective creative brief and an area you can fill with information to meet the needs of your campaign:

A creative brief can also be presented in a more visual format, through a PowerPoint presentation. The link below provides a sample template that you can download and edit for your campaign:

Continued Learning

If you would like to expand your learning on Typography please reference the links below! It gives an overview of common types of fonts, how to use them and how to choose the right font for your brand.

  1. The Paypal Creative Brief is a great example of a creative brief that allows the creative team more freedom. Note how this creative brief clearly states the problem Paypal is attempting to resolve as well as their end goal. This creative brief also includes a summary of Paypal’s target market as well as key insights while remaining succinct and visually engaging. Having a clearly defined problem and desired end goal will help guide the creative team to create a unique solution that can connect with the identified target audience.
  2. The “Quaker Oats Creative Brief ” is a great example of a creative brief with a specific desired outcome. Note that while this creative brief appears to start the same as PayPal’s creative brief, Quaker Oats adds a clear set guideline regarding the problems they want to be addressed as well as potential ways to resolve these problems. This creative brief is also data-backed and provides key insights about their target market to maintain engagement and inspire the creative team. The creative brief is engaging in this way, because Quaker Oats knows exactly the type of campaign they are looking to execute, to resolve their problem and connect with their audience.


This page contains material taken from:

Grigg, T. (2008, April 27). The 7 Essentials of the Direct Marketing Creative Brief. Retrieved from

Lim, A. (2019, January 31). Townsite Brewing Creative Brief. Retrieved from

Roberts, J. (2016). Writing for Strategic Communication Industries. Ohio State University.

UCLA Library. (n.d.). SMART Goals. Retrieved from


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An Open Guide to Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) Copyright © by Andrea Niosi and KPU Marketing 4201 Class of Summer 2020 is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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