A creative brief is a communication tool that outlines a project’s requirements, expectations, goals, and resources. It helps ensure that all stakeholders in a project are on the same page from the start, which also helps the project run smoothly, stay on schedule, and be successful. A creative brief is commonly used in advertising and design agencies, but it’s a useful tool for a project of any size, and for freelance designers and large corporations alike.
In an agency setting, project stakeholders may include a marketing team, creative team, executives, and clients. For freelance designers, a creative brief is simply shared between the designer and client. This may be done as an interview, with the designer asking the client all of the questions included in the creative brief, or the client may fill out the brief and return it. While a creative brief provides a foundation for a project, it’s also a reference tool that can be modified as the project progresses.
The potential consequences of not using a creative brief include wasted time and money, miscommunication with clients, multiple revisions as the project keeps changing course, and a general lack of clarity on all sides, all of which can be avoided by using a creative brief. For a creative brief to truly be effective, it should be developed in a timely manner so that it’s streamlining the project timeline, not interfering with it. To get you started, we’re providing a collection of creative brief templates that you can download for free. You’ll find templates for advertising, graphic design, nonprofits and more in Microsoft Word format, plus general creative brief templates for Microsoft Excel.
We’ve also provided free creative brief templates in Smartsheet, a real-time work execution platform that makes outlining your marketing efforts easier and more collaborative than Excel.
How to Write a Creative Brief
Whether you’re creating an ad campaign for a new brand, designing a logo, or developing a website, you need information in order to produce an effective end product. The specific information you need will vary depending on the type of project, but there are some basic elements that most creative briefs include:
- Background Overview - This section provides information about the company, service or product. How would the client describe their business? What background info is relevant, including previous marketing campaigns? What do you need to know about their product or service for the current project?
- Objectives - Goals need to be clearly defined because they will affect all other decisions on a project. Does the client want to sell more products, increase brand awareness, or attract more donors? Do they have a call to action? How will they measure success? Having a concise objective provides a focus for the rest of the project roadmap.
- Target Audience - Who is the buyer or intended audience? This may include demographic information such as age, gender, education, or income level as well as info on how often they use the client’s product or service. Knowing your audience will shape the style and messaging of your campaign.
- Message - What are the key points that need to be said? What message needs to be conveyed to the target audience, and what is the best way to deliver it?
- Tone - What is the tone or image that suits the client’s message or brand? Are there certain colors or fonts that help communicate this? Ask the client to describe the tone, whether it’s sophisticated, fun, or bold, and for to share color, brand, or style guidelines.
- Scheduling - Having a timeline is critical for planning any project. Find out if there’s an advertising or publishing schedule you need to track against and solidify your deadlines are for each deliverable.
- Assessing Competition - Who is the competition and what do they offer? What makes your client unique? Understanding the competition can provide a clearer picture of where your client stands in the market, which will help you shape your campaign.
- Budget - The budget sets the parameters for how much time you have to work with and what materials the client can afford. It’s also how you get paid, so make sure you have a detailed understanding of what costs are included in the budget.
Creative Brief Template for Excel
This template allows you to create a detailed creative brief with the functionality of a spreadsheet. All of the essentials are included, from project goals and guidelines to budget and approvals. There is room in this template for a lot of information, but it can be customized to suit any project, whether you’re working with multiple deliverables or a single task.
Download Client Creative Brief Template
Simple Creative Brief Template for Excel
There’s something to be said for simplicity. This creative brief template offers a basic outline to help you stay focused and plan efficiently. Using a simple template for your brief can remind you to focus on the most important points that need to be communicated. The generic quality of this template makes it suitable for a wide range of projects and business settings.
Download Simple Creative Brief Template
Graphic Design Creative Brief Template for Word
This creative brief template is intended for graphic design professionals. If you’re a solo graphic designer running your own small business, a creative brief template can help set a precedent of clear communication as soon as you land a new client. This template has a simple layout that is easy to read and edit, and it includes all of the important elements of a creative design brief along with room for additional notes.
Download Graphic Design Creative Brief Template
Advertising Creative Brief Template for Word
This advertising creative brief template is concise, but it covers all of the essentials for planning a brand advertising campaign. Objective, target audience, tone, messaging and non-negotiables are all included along with key advertising elements. The layout of this template allows for a lot of information in a relatively small amount of space, which can help a creative team produce an innovative and effective campaign.
Nonprofit Creative Brief Template for Word
A nonprofit campaign may focus on boosting membership, attracting new donors, increasing public awareness, or other goals. This creative brief template is designed to get detailed information on a nonprofit organization, its marketing objectives, calls to action, and branding requirements. Use the template as is, or remove or modify any sections that are not relevant to your project.
Video Production Creative Brief Template for Word
Plan your video production project with this creative brief template. It’s set up as a series of questions to help a client identify goals, needs, resources and constraints. Video production can be pricey, and this creative brief asks not only about budget, but also what gear, staff and other resources are available. It covers a wide range of information - from video quality to scheduling and management - to help ensure that the project runs smoothly and meets client expectations.
Take Action on Your Creative Briefs with Smartsheet for Marketing
Having a thorough, accessible creative brief is key to your team’s ability to execute on marketing initiatives. But it’s only one factor that impacts success. To ensure campaigns meet their objectives, consider a solution that empowers you to visualize your marketing efforts on an interactive timeline, organize and manage campaign-specific details in one location, and track progress, all in real time.
Smartsheet is a work execution platform that enables enterprises and teams to get from idea to impact - fast. Extraordinary marketers rely on Smartsheet for campaign management, initiative tracking, content calendars, event management, and more.
Use Smartsheet to boost accountability by maintaining consistency across channels and campaigns, save time with centralized resources, and increase campaign speed to market. Seamlessly connect marketing efforts to ROI, accelerate delivery of marketing initiatives, and improve alignment with internal and external stakeholders.
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