Everyone knows that a good creative brief can make or break a project when it comes to advertising and marketing campaigns. Laziness, lack of preparation or lack of detailed direction can mean the difference between a strong foundation for the team—and, therefore, the ability to execute a campaign from concept to completion—or a complete breakdown in communication and missed opportunity in the end. Creative briefs help to solve any misunderstandings before people start getting to work.

Our rule of thumb? Marketing creative can only be as good as the creative brief that inspired it. So, how can we create creative briefs that inspire successful projects, happy team members and creative that wows?

Here are a few do’s and don’ts of developing an effective creative brief:

Step One: Dig deep.

The number one job of an account manager is to to dig deep into our client’s brain. How well do you know your client? How much detail and data can you extract to provide your team with knowledge that they need? What is the problem and what are all the necessary steps needed to solve it?

Effective account managers don’t just recite information from one team to the other. They interpret the client’s vision, weigh those against critical business objectives and deliver that interpretation to the team. The more detailed information you can get the better.

Find out who, what, when, how and how much. Know objectives, goals, reach, problems and purpose of the campaign. Know the look, the feel and the audience—including their drives, desires and fears. More is definitely better, here.

Step Two: Put pen to paper.

Now write it all down; every thought, every note.

While squeezing every drop of information from your client, take overly detailed notes. This is an exercise in distillation, so you’ll want to start with as much information as possible so you can get to something clear and concise in the end. Then, when it’s time to organize your thoughts and simplify them into a brief, it will be far easier to do so.

Step Three: Organize and simplify.

Now take all of that rich data you noted and distill it down to its most critical components! Use your favorite red pen and cross out anything irrelevant or repetitive and begin filling out your creative brief!

Here are a few ways we edit down and categorize information:

  1. OCCASION/ PRODUCT FOCUS
  2. PROGRAM OBJECTIVES & GOALS
  3. CLIENT LEAD
  4.  ACCOUNT LEAD
  5. TARGET AUDIENCE
  6. KPIs
  7. BUDGET
  8. TIMEFRAME
  9. RECOMMENDED MEDIA
  10. CREATIVE NEEDED

Step Five: Give me the green light.

Early collaboration with your client makes all the difference. That’s why we always recommend providing opportunities for the client to give feedback during the briefing process.

If you receive additional feedback suggesting your direction is not on point or your message isn’t clear, go back to step one and refine your creative brief to meet all of your client’s objectives.

Step Six: Get out of your comfort zone.

Digital communications (like email, chat or project management tools) might be an easier way to communicate with your teams, but when it comes to communication, it’s best to take conversations offline.

For a brief to be effective, it’s best to sync in person with your creative team—bring print outs, use post-it notes, mark them up. Whatever you do, make it interactive and collaborative. This way, team members can ask questions and account managers can provide valuable insight in real time.

Conclusion: Be the brief guru.

Simply put, you have put in the work!

Work diligently with your client, research, take those grueling notes, organized your thoughts and poof read everything. It’s no short order. But, if you follow these steps, you’ll have created a simple, brilliant document that is now the foundation for an expertly delivered advertising or marketing campaign.

And don’t forget to reward yourself and pass your new found knowledge on to the rest of your account management team.