Creative Brief: Problems and Solutions

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Fact-checked by Layla Varela
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Updated on: June 22, 2023

In today's fast-paced and competitive world, businesses constantly strive to develop innovative and effective marketing strategies to stay ahead. One of the most essential tools in this process is the creative brief. However, as with all things in life, challenges are difficult to pass through. That’s why this article will cover the most common problems and solutions you can find when creating a creative brief!

What is a creative brief?

A creative brief is a document that outlines the essential information and objectives for a creative project, such as a marketing campaign, events, developing apps or video productions, etc. Hence, you must cover these points when making a creative brief:

  • Goals to achieve.
  • Project background.
  • Desired outcomes.
  • Target audience.
  • Key message.
  • Tone.
  • Visual Style.
  • Timeline.
  • Specifications & requirements.
  • Future challenges you might cover.
  • Budget.

With all of these, you can use a creative brief to help align everyone involved in the project, including clients, marketers, and designers, ensuring that the creative work meets the desired objectives and effectively communicates the intended message. 

Moreover, the creative brief acts as a roadmap for the creative process, helping to foster collaboration, creativity, and clarity throughout the project's development with other team members.

And as you can see, this document is essential for the whole team. That’s why there are other things you must consider when redacting the document, such as:

  • Synthesis and brevity: With a clear and concise brief, the creative team can develop ideas that meet the client's needs and expectations. 
  • Well-written paragraphs: Be as straightforward as possible to ensure everyone is on the same page and working towards the same goals
  • Provide only the necessary information: When building the creative brief, the client could give you one of two challenges you must pass through: coming up with millions of details or a lack of information you must require. Instead, try to ask for all the points you need.

To summarize, an excellent creative brief should be clear, concise, and focused. It should provide a detailed overview of the campaign objectives, target audience, messaging, and other relevant details. It should also include a timeline for the project and any budget constraints you need to consider.

Key points to consider:

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Now you know all the things to include in the creative brief. However, knowing how to develop each point properly is crucial if you want to succeed at making and presenting this document to your team and clients. So, first things first, here you have the main key points you must consider when building the file:

  • Define the objectives:
    • Clearly state the specific goals and objectives of the project. For example, if it's a marketing campaign, the aim might be to increase brand awareness or drive sales. 
    • Include measurable outcomes whenever possible. For instance, if the goal is generating leads, specify the desired amount of information within a specific timeframe. For that, you can use the SMART methodology to ensure realistic KPIs.
  • Know your target audience:
    • Identify the demographics of your target audience, such as age, gender, location, and interests. This information will help tailor the creative work to resonate with them.
    • And because when discussing creative projects, you must understand their pain points, motivations, and aspirations. This knowledge will guide the messaging and tone. 
    • Think about the journey your ideal client might have to reach the product you’re launching. That can help you understand their experience, making it easier to empathize with them.
  • Provide background information:
    • Share relevant information about the brand or company, including its mission, values, and unique selling propositions. That helps the creative team understand the brand's essence and what differentiates it. You can also set the tone and visual style for the key message.
    • On the other hand, you can also include any existing brand parameters or visual identity elements that will help you provide your team with some guidelines to maintain consistency in your product.
  • Outline the core message:
    • Clearly define the core message you want to communicate. It should be concise and memorable. To do that, summarize in a tagline the idea you want the audience to keep in mind constantly.
    • Specify any supporting messages or sub-points that should be included in the creative work reinforcing the main idea.
  • Set the tone and style:
    • Describe the tone you desire in the creative piece. For example, is it formal, playful, professional, or casual? Use adjectives that reflect the intended mood!
    • After knowing those adjectives, you can discuss the visual style, such as whether it should be minimalist, vibrant, or nostalgic. Provide examples or references to clarify the desired aesthetics. You can use photographs, videos, or gifs.
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  • Include specifications:
    • Specify the technical requirements, such as the format (print, digital, or both), dimensions, and resolution.
    • Provide color preferences or restrictions, if any. Also, include any specific fonts or design elements the team needs to use or consider in the final product, with size and hex code for the colors.
  • Establish a timeline:
    • Of course, you must include a state of the project timeline for your client and your team. That includes deadlines for each phase of the creative process. That ensures that everyone knows the time constraints and can plan accordingly.
    • Putting all those reviews and approval dates into the document is vital to keep the project on track you identified.
  • Provide reference materials:
    • You can include it in the tone and style or as a new title within the creative brief and Include examples of creative work that you find inspiring or relevant to the project. You can show images, designs, websites, or other brands with similar aesthetic or messaging approaches.
    • Share competitor analysis or market research to help the creative team understand the competitive landscape.

Remember, the more specific and detailed your creative brief is, the better the chances of the innovative team producing work that meets your expectations and objectives.

Common questions to ask before starting a new project

Of course, you must clarify the main points with the client before making a product that satisfies their needs. For that, you must ask questions to help you understand the project better. And because there are very fields to cover, you can focus your questions on these three categories that can summarize the essential information you need:

  • Goals.
  • Context.
  • Constraints.

Goals

  • What is the primary objective or purpose of this project? What specific goals do we want to achieve?
  • Who is the target audience or intended recipients of the creative work? What are their characteristics, preferences, and needs?
  • What key message or core idea do we want to convey through this project? What do we want the audience to take away or remember?
  • What mood do they want to reach their audience? 
  • What are the desired outcomes or actions they want the audience to take after engaging with the creative piece? For example, is it to purchase a product, sign up for a service, or raise awareness about a cause?
  • What is the project timeline, and any important milestones or deadlines you or your team need to consider?
  • Who are the key stakeholders or decision-makers involved in the project? 
  • How will feedback and approvals be handled?
  • Are there any existing assets, materials, or references that should be incorporated or considered?
  • How will the success of the project be measured? What metrics or indicators will you use to evaluate its effectiveness?

Context

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  • What is the background or context of the project? What factors or events have led to the need for this creative work?
  • What is the current market landscape or competitive environment? Are there any industry trends, challenges, or opportunities you should know or use?
  • What is the project scope and deliverables? Which components or elements do you require, such as logos, illustrations, copywriting, or multimedia assets? 
  • What are the preferred platforms or channels for the creative work? Where will the audience see the final product in print, digital media, social media, or other mediums?
  • Are there any cultural or regional considerations you must address to know the target?
  • Are there any key events or deadlines you need to align with?
  • What are the brand guidelines or existing visual and verbal identity you should follow? Are there any specific brand values or messaging that need to be incorporated?
  • What are the risks or potential challenges that you should anticipate? How can we mitigate them to ensure a successful outcome?

Constraints

  • What are the budgetary limitations for the project? How much financial resources are available to allocate towards creative development and production?
  • When does the final creative work need to be delivered or launched?
  • Are there any technical limitations or specifications to be aware of? For example, do you need to consider specific file formats, resolutions, or printing requirements?
  • Are there any legal or regulatory constraints that you need to look at? For example, are there any copyright, trademark, or usage restrictions that your team should know?
  • What are the parameters for maintaining brand consistency in creative work?
  • Are there any cultural or language considerations that you must address?
  • What are the resource limitations? For example, how many team members, designers, or creatives will be available to work on the project?
  • Are there any logistical constraints to be aware of? For example, are physical space, materials, or equipment limitations that may impact the creative execution?
  •  Should you consider any sustainability or environmental constraints in the creative development and production process?

Common problems and solutions

People may encounter several common problems or challenges when creating a creative brief. But don’t worry! For each issue, you can find a possible solution to it. Check them out

  1. Lack of clarity: One of the most common problems is needing more transparent and specific information in the brief. Unclear objectives, vague instructions, or missing details can lead to misunderstandings and confusion among the creative team.

Solutions:

  •    Clearly define the objectives, deliverables, and expectations in the brief.
  •    Provide specific details and examples to ensure a shared understanding.
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  1. Insufficient research and understanding: Conducting thorough research and understanding the target audience, market trends, and the competitive landscape is necessary for the creative brief to have valuable insights that can inform the creative direction.

Solutions:

  • Conduct thorough market research to understand the target audience, industry trends, and competitors.
  •    Gather insights and data to inform the creative direction.
  1. Unrealistic expectations: Setting realistic expectations regarding budget, timeline, or desired outcomes can create difficulties during the creative process. It's important to align expectations with the available resources and project constraints.

Solutions:

  • Set realistic expectations by considering the available resources, budget, and timeline.
  •  Collaborate with stakeholders to align expectations and balance ambition and feasibility.
  1. Inadequate communication: Poor communication between stakeholders, clients, and the creative team can lead to misinterpretation, delays, or a misalignment of expectations. Establishing effective communication channels and ensuring everyone is on the same page is crucial.

Solutions:

  •  Establish regular and open communication channels among all stakeholders.
  •  Use collaborative tools and platforms to facilitate effective communication and feedback.
  1. Lack of collaboration: Failing to involve key stakeholders, such as the creative team, marketing team, and clients, in the brief creation process can result in a limited perspective and missed opportunities for collaboration and idea generation.

Solutions:

  • Involve key stakeholders from different departments in the brief creation process.
  • Foster a collaborative environment that encourages sharing of ideas and perspectives.
  1. Overlooking strategic considerations: A creative brief should align with the project or campaign's strategic goals and objectives. Therefore, it is vital to address strategic concerns to ensure coherence and alignment between the creative work and the broader marketing or business objectives.

Solutions:

  • Align the creative brief with the broader strategic goals and objectives of the project.
  • Clearly define the desired brand positioning and messaging in the brief.
  1. Unclear feedback and evaluation criteria: With precise feedback mechanisms and evaluation criteria outlined in the creative brief, it becomes easier to assess the success or effectiveness of the creative work and make necessary adjustments.

Solutions:

  • Establish precise feedback mechanisms and evaluation criteria upfront.
  • Provide specific guidelines on how to provide feedback and what metrics you will use to evaluate success.
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  1. Resistance to change: In some cases, resistance to change or adherence to traditional approaches can hinder the creativity and innovation potential of the brief. Embracing new ideas and being open to exploring different creative solutions is essential.

Solutions:

  • Encourage a culture of innovation and openness to new ideas.
  • Emphasize the importance of exploring alternative approaches and thinking outside the box.
  1. Lack of flexibility: A rigid or inflexible brief may limit the creative team's ability to experiment, explore alternative ideas, or adapt to unexpected challenges. Allowing for flexibility within the brief can foster creative freedom and adaptability.

Solutions:

  • Build flexibility into the brief to allow for creative exploration and adaptation.
  • Encourage the creative team to propose new ideas and approaches during the project.
  1. Poor alignment with the brand or target audience: Neglecting to align the creative brief with the brand identity and the needs and preferences of the target audience can result in creative work that fails to resonate or communicate effectively.

Solutions:

  • Clearly define the brand guidelines and target audience personas in the brief.
  • When evaluating creative concepts, refer to the brand identity and audience needs.

By being aware of these common problems, you can implement these possible solutions, take proactive measures to address them, and ensure that the creative brief is comprehensive and practical and sets the stage for successful creative development.

Ready to start the project?

As you know, the creative brief is just the step before a creative project, so if you want to work with clients or simply develop your ideas, you must improve your skills. For that, Skillademia can offer you plenty of courses!

You can learn how to use Unity to make a videogame, a 3D animation with Blender, and edit projects with Adobe After Effects and Premiere Pro!

Don’t waste any minute, and try Skillademia now!

Lorena M. Rodas leverages her experience across film, writing, and production to make complex tech concepts accessible through storytelling. With a background spanning sci-fi, AI, and emerging tech, Lorena translates her depth of knowledge into engaging, educational content. She is an expert at decoding high-level topics to reach broad audiences.
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