Great Briefs Lead to Great Work

A solid creative brief is essential for an agency to deliver excellent work. Whether your campaign connects with the audience and drives results or misses the mark, largely depends on the creative brief. At The Studio, which is the in-house agency for the brands of Anywhere Real Estate, we’ve found these parts of the creative brief to be most critical in keeping projects on target.

Brand Statement. This comes first to remind clients of a very important detail—everything must be on brand. As an internal agency, you know your brand extremely well, so this section can be expanded to explain the situation. Why is the campaign needed? What’s the pain point? You don’t need every nitty-gritty historical detail, just what’s most important for context.

Objectives/KPIs. What measurable results do you need to drive? Things like website traffic, open/click-through rates, video views, and social engagement can be tied specifically to a campaign. Of course, not all campaigns need KPIs. Sometimes you just need holiday social assets, and that’s okay.

Audience. It’s rare to succeed in being all things to all people because messaging and calls-to-action are usually different. The more audiences you try to fit in, the more watered-down the messaging will be.

Messaging. Even the most beautifully designed campaign will fail if it doesn’t deliver the message in a compelling way. If your audience only takes one thing away, what should it be? As with audience, the more messages you throw in, the less effective the campaign will be.

Voice/Tone. Stay on brand unless there’s a specific reason to push it. For example, The Studio created a campaign after a top agent left for a competitor. It had to be inclusive, confident and positive, without any jabs at the agent or competitor. There have been other times, like when a competitor was spreading misinformation, that needed a more-direct approach. It’s fine to note “stay on brand” if there isn’t a specific reason to strike a different tone.

Imagery. You must be brand-compliant, but sometimes guidance is still needed. Do you need to show a product close-up or represent a geographic region? It’s best to give this sort of guidance when there’s a specific reason—perhaps your senior executive dislikes ads with people in them, so the client knows that won’t fly.

Competition. How does a competitor’s messaging or product impact your campaign? Do you need to communicate benefits or differences? It’s best to include examples of the competitor’s marketing if it’s relevant to the campaign. 

Sometimes with creative briefs, what not to include is just as important. Avoid these five things to keep your project on target:

• Vague requests (“I just want a clean design…”)

• Wanting something different; not the usual stuff. (“I want to go off brand.”)

• Check out my cool clip art and Google memes! (see #2)

• Not sure what I want; I’ll know it when I see it.

• Doing what a competitor just did.

When requests like these pop up in your creative briefs, it’s important to push back because they’ll derail the project every time. Instead, seek clarification and work with your internal client or business partner to deliver a solid, accurate and insightful creative brief so your team will be set up for success.

Want more on briefs and briefings? Check out IHAF's creative brief templates and our Writing Better Briefs tips sheet. Both are available to IHAF members directly from our website.

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