People like to say I’m organized. At work, co-workers find this refreshing…I think. At home, my husband probably finds my overly organized self annoying. So for the time being, let’s focus on being organized in the world of advertising, by way of a little something called The Creative Brief. In advertising, when a new client comes into the mix, everything is exciting. Creative minds start working overtime thinking, “This would be great for them! Or, what about that?” Big ideas, big brainstorms! But, it’s important to step back before undertaking any new client or project and create a Creative Brief before getting ahead of ourselves. A Creative Brief is a document used by creative professionals to develop creative content such as visual design, copy, websites, radio/TV commercials, and the like. The Creative Brief includes information on a client and/or project including background, target audience, objectives, single message, mandatory elements, deliverables, timeline, budget, and approvals. The information in a Creative Brief is derived by asking a series of simple questions to the client.

Believe it or not, there is a growing norm among ad agencies to develop creative work with a partial, incomplete, or even no Creative Brief.

Imagine this: An advertising agency gets a new client—Susie Q Bakery perhaps—and immediately the creative team starts coming up with exciting ideas for Susie Q before reviewing (or developing) the Creative Brief. One team member might suggest building brand awareness by some well-placed billboards in town featuring their hot, fresh, homemade breads, doughnuts, and cookies. Another team member might suggest a TV commercial that offers a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the baking process. And yet another team member might suggest keeping the bakery top of mind by starting up social media accounts in order to keep consumers up-to-date on daily specials. Too bad all of those ideas would have most-likely failed.

By developing and reviewing a Creative Brief for Susie Q Bakery, team members on the account would have realized that:

  1. Susie Q Bakery’s background is that of a well-known, high-standing, local establishment (therefore not in need of billboards reiterating that fact).

  2. Susie Q Bakery’s target audience is not your day-to-day consumer but rather brides planning their wedding and choosing an affordable, local wedding cake designer (making the content in the suggested TV ad slightly off the mark).

  3. Susie Q Bakery’s main objective with this campaign is to sell more wedding cakes because it’s their biggest money-maker (making the “daily specials” aspect on social media sites quite useless).

As you can imagine, the list of information from the creative brief would continue on in a similar fashion. However, by knowing all of the relevant information, advertising strategic thinkers would be able to place media buys and do other careful planning for the specified campaign objective. And, advertising creative thinkers would be able to come up with fantastic ideas that meet the specific goals clearly laid out.

Bottom line: Not everyone is organized, and that’s okay. However, in the world of advertising, being organized with a clear, concise, yet thorough Creative Brief makes all the difference in a successful campaign.