Marketing Mojo- Five things that make a creative brief GOOD


How to spot the weaknesses in a bad brief.

  1. It Brings Clarity

If you are left scratching your head after reading a Creative Brief, don’t be too hasty to judge yourself obtuse or slow. Sometimes a brief just sucks.

A Creative Brief should quickly inform the creative team about what the client’s brand is about and what they want to achieve in clear, easy to understand ways. If you are a technical and/or convoluted writer, perhaps you should not be the one writing the Creative Brief. Let a Creative Marketing person do it. By the way, no true Creative Marketing person cuts and pastes raw, unfiltered, non-prioritized client information into a brief. They must interpret and then pull out the salient points and write it into the overall direction to which the brief is trying to point. It is after all a “brief” in the sense that it is a distillation not an extrapolation.

2. It Is Consistent and Logical

If your brief contains logical and consistency errors on top of errors it is a sure sign that no thought went into it. Can you spot the consistency error in the sections of the Creative Brief below?

CONSUMER INSIGHTS:Our target market is young, active and love to have fun. They spend most of their time online and they love gaming, music videos and social media.

Corporate, serious, reliable with 150 years of experience in our field.


18-25 year olds with disposable income.


It may not jump right out at you at first but it is clear that the way the client wants to portray themselves is not very appealing its desired target market.  There is a lack of marketing insight by whoever did the Creative Brief. The brand/image personality you might think important might not be the most important thing to the target audience you are trying to reach. Millennials do not care how long something has been around. They are all about challenging old ideas, old institutions or seeing the old presented in a new way. So perhaps the thing to be highlighted about the brand is its innovation, adaptability not its age. Also if it does not entertain or inspire, they do not pay attention long enough to be informed.  They grew up with instant gratification of their emotions.  Catch phrases like ‘Corporate’ and ‘serious’ in addition to being vague do not sound entertaining or inspiring.

Beware of conflicting messages, conflicting directions in a brief, they will lead to constant arguments and do-overs later on in the creative process, costing you precious time and money.

  1. One key message. One secondary message. Maybe a tertiary one but no more.

A Creative Brief needs to rein in a client who wants to say everything about their brand. Say everything and you might as well say nothing because nothing stands out. Think of all of your communication pieces like a blockbuster movie. The name of the movie like the headline of the ad, must be simple, memorable. The core appeal of the blockbuster movie is either its mega star and/or director.  Similarly the ad should have one core message. Yes there is a supporting cast but they are background.  Just as a movie cannot be about everything  an ad cannot be about everything.

Find the ONE THING the ad is about most of all. This not anything else will override and influence all Creative Direction. The rest are supporting cast.

4. Sets perimeters but does not restrict creativity

When you know where you cannot go, you have a greater sense of freedom about where you can go. A Creative Brief must empower the Creative Team with that sense of freedom and once the barriers of the brief are not broken, the work must be deemed a valid execution. It may or may not be accepted by the client or even be the favorite of the agency, but the artist or writer’s autonomy must be given some acknowledgement.

  1. Accountability 

    Last but not least a Creative Brief must have deadlines and it must have an author. Someone must take responsibility for its creation and its execution on time.



Leave a Comment