Creative Brief Tips: 5 Common Mistakes and How to Fix Them

Posted by on February 19, 2016


As an account person, creative briefs are the bane of my existence. A necessary evil. Yes, they’re the foundation for creative projects. And yes, they’re used to help clients agree on common goals for the project. But while a creative brief helps projects run smoothly, that doesn’t mean they’re always easy to put together. Translating objectives in a clear, concise way that still allows our creative team to be creative is no easy task.

Below I’ve shared five common creative brief mistakes (that we’ve all made) and tips on how you can avoid them:

Mistake #1: Defining too many goals/objectives. This can confuse the team and detract from the biggest issue that needs resolving. How to fix it: Assess the true business goals before choosing the most important one. Then, identify objectives that go along with the priority goal. Remember: the purpose of the brief is to provide clarity and direction.

Mistake #2: Not establishing clear target audiences. Defining who the target is for your projects isn’t just about basic demographics. How to fix it: To help the creative team understand who the audience is and what motivates them, you need to paint the full picture. For instance, when we write creative briefs here at Marketwave, we don’t just include relevant information about the audiences—we also include a quote of how they currently think to get in the mindset of the audience we’re trying to reach.

Mistake #3: Using generic or boilerplate descriptions. Don’t use meaningless descriptions or jargon that doesn’t add anything to the brief. How to fix it: Let your creative team know, in laymen’s terms, what the client does and what their product or service means to their audiences. Make sure to include the one thing (and make sure it’s just one) that sets the client apart from their competitors. This—plus leaving out empty adjectives like cutting-edge, innovative, original, etc.—helps keep descriptions concise.

Mistake #4: Leaving holes in your creative brief. Don’t be lazy. How to fix it: Do the legwork and provide all of the information that is absolutely essential to the project. And don’t leave out the specs—find and include the technical details at the beginning of a project so no time is wasted creating a concept that can’t be executed because it doesn’t translate to a different format.

Mistake #5: Copying/pasting information. If you’re working on a project for a long-standing client, it can be tempting (and sometimes event appropriate) to reuse information from one creative brief to the next. How to fix it: Just don’t give into the temptation; each brief should be unique to the project so the creative team doesn’t glaze over the repeated material.

Do you have any other creative brief faux pas to share? Tell us in the comments!


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