Making the Case for Creative Briefs

Here’s a common scenario: You’re tasked with delivering new creative asset. You’re excited and want to dive right into the project. And you know that everyone probably has the same vision, right? Not so much.

Enter stage right: the creative brief.

A well-written creative brief can get everyone to buy into one vision. More importantly, it outlines the direction of your project (Oetting, 2016).

But writing a creative brief is just as much about the process as it is about the end result. Writing a brief forces you to think your project through—from concept to delivery. Not only is this the most important thing you can do to ensure great content, but it’s also the best way to ensure you’re connecting with your audience (Murray, 2015).

Here’s the rub: Thorough creative briefs aren’t typically the norm. In a survey of more than 1,200 C-level ad agency executives, 53 percent of respondents said the creative briefs they receive lack focus, and 27 percent reported that the briefs they receive are incomplete and inconsistent. No one reported that the briefs were complete and focused all of the time (Bruell, 2013).

In other words, this happens…


Why is such an important strategic document often an afterthought? How do we combat this?

After reading this week’s lesson, I turned to the almighty Google for more inspiration. I came across two extra tips that are helping me get in the right “head space” as I write my briefs.

Use The Product Or Service

This is crucial. If it’s at all possible, get samples of the product you’re selling. If it’s a service, test it out. If it’s a car, drive it. If it’s fast food, go and eat it. Experience everything. The more you know, the better your brief will be. You can explain the strengths. You have personal perspective. Soak it all up before you write (Suggett, 2016).

Organize Your Thoughts

Every creative brief is different, but they share similar traits. Here are some of the key points I’m starting to think about as I draft my briefs:

  • Target Audience
  • Tone of voice
  • Key message
  • Key Benefits
  • Audience takeaway

Simplify Everything

The creative brief is not meant to drown people in data and research. It should be creatively written and concise. I’m aiming for one page. There’s rarely any need to go beyond that.

Bottom line: Think of the brief as a rousing speech to stir up the troops and get them motivated.

All that said, here are three creative briefs I drafted for IMC 634:

Stance Socks: Creative Brief

Campaign: “Women Who Dare”
Channel(s): Facebook and Instagram
Type: Sponsored Posts and Retargeting Banners

Why are we advertising?
“If the consumer economy had a sex, it would be female.  Women drive 70-80% of all consumer purchasing, through a combination of their buying power and influence” (Brennan, 2015). That’s why our goal is to increase sales of Stance performance socks among millennial women.

Whom are we talking to?
We’re talking to millennial women living in the U.S., age 20 to 34, who engage in recreational fitness, traditional sports, or action sports. To these women, a pair of socks from the Stance performance line are for exercising—not socializing.

What do they currently think?
Millennial women may not be familiar with Stance, as it’s a relatively young brand. If they do know Stance, they think the company doesn’t truly speak to women. Instead, they believe the company paints all female customers with the same broad, stereotypical brushstrokes.

What would we like them to think?
We want millennial women to believe that Stance looks past catch-all cliches when it comes to women and goes beyond gender roles to simply see the artist, the athlete, the woman— as an individual.

What is the single most persuasive idea we can convey?
Stance is the go-to brand for active women who want a performance sock so functional it can withstand anything the road, trail, mountain, gym, court, board, or pavement can dish out.

Why should they believe it?
Stance actively empowers women to go conquer any trail, slope, court, or sport that challenges them.

Are there any creative guidelines?

  • Imagery (People): Source images should include active, fitness-focused females. These aren’t athleisure-wearing ladies looking for day-to-day comfort. They’re avid runners, snowboarders, mountain hikers, and basketball players. They tackle tough terrain and they expect their socks to measure up.
  • Imagery (Products): Stance Women’s Performance socks (Run, Training, Snow, Adventure, Moto, and Studio) are the focus of this ad. NO socks from the Stance Women’s Style or Collections line should be included.
  • Logos, Colors, Typography, and Fonts: Reference Stance’s Brand Guidelines

Rock ‘Em Apparel Creative Brief Discussion

What do you know about the product and its history?
Rock ‘Em Apparel (formerly Rock ‘Em Socks) launched in February 2011. They were the first company to customize the Nike Elite Sock. Today, the company sells the most creative sock designs on the market, along with a full line of clothing and accessories.

Whom are we talking to?
Urban preteen and teen boys aged 8 – 18, as well as young men aged 19 – 24. These individuals appreciate trendy clothing styles and want to be noticeably well dressed on the basketball court, and beyond. These consumers are sporting enthusiasts who either play or are spectators of the sports they love.

What do they currently think?
Rock ‘Em’s designs are confident—just like the consumers who rock them worldwide.

What’s the negative?
The Rock ‘Em brand has grown stale. The company has not evolved its products or its image to keep pace with its audience and its biggest competitors (for example, compare Rock Em’s products and image to major player, Stance Stance’s product lines are more diverse and their overall brand more luxurious and appealing.

What’s the brand?
The Rock ‘Em brand was born out of the company’s love for sneakers and basketball. To “rock” something means you do more than wear something; you embody it. The “rock” is also a slang alternative to the word “basketball”, as heard on streetball courts from city to city. The Rock ‘Em brand represents the willingness to achieve greatness; to go above and beyond our supposed limits. Rock ‘Em’s goal is to impact the sporting landscape and cultivate a community that encourages positivity, hard work, leadership, and determination—on and off the court.

HRH Safety Creative Brief Discussion

What do you know about the product and its history?
HRH works with builders, engineers, and general contractors to optimize their safety program and inspection processes to help satisfy OSHA requirements for documented recordkeeping, risk, and hazard identification.

Whom are we talking to?
HRH targets safety experts at large home and commercial building companies, as well as general contractors. These individuals are responsible for safety and security within their corporation, organizations and government agencies. They follow guidelines of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

What do they currently think?
HRH’s audience wants (and needs) a solid safety consultant to train their employees, shield them from risk, and minimize their OSHA infractions (which can be quite costly).

What’s the negative?
HRH is a small, family-owned business with little-to-no marketing budget. Nearly all new business is acquired via word of mouth / referrals.

What’s the brand?
HRH saves the companies they serve millions of dollars in fines. They even help save lives.

Which company do you think I should pick to focus on for the remainder of my Digital Storytelling class: Stance, Rock ‘Em, or HRH Safety?


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