How to write a creative brief that inspires your talent, and clearly sets up your freelance project for success.
Currently, freelance creatives are widely sought after by agencies and brands to manage an increased workload. But there are inconsistencies in how they assign the work, leading to confusion and quality issues.
When working with 10 or 1000 freelancers remotely on different projects at digital agencies, a stellar, standardized creative brief that outlines what success looks like can make everyone’s job easier. Clarity is kindness, after all. And clarity leads to final projects with fewer revisions, higher satisfaction, and a more mutually beneficial relationship with your contractors.
Standardizing your creative brief into a template can help you onboard freelancers more effectively and produce outstanding work. To make it even easier, we’ve included a blank template below.
What is a creative brief?
A creative brief outlines an upcoming project, summarizing stakeholders, clients, and strategy to achieve the end result. Formulating a creative brief before starting the project is recommended to set clear expectations about the project’s purpose, objectives, deadlines, requirements, and metrics.
Why is a creative brief essential to creative operations? It can prevent scope creep, but also function as a way to guide the freelancer through the project in a clear, concise way. It is the source of truth and a reference point for everyone involved, including project managers, creative directors, and freelancers.
At agencies that work with freelancers (a.k.a. all digital agencies), an effective creative brief template can help:
- Provide a clear vision of the project along with metrics and KPIs to be reached
- Set what success looks like and lead to fewer revisions and back and forth
- Align creative operations with many internal teams during a multi-stage project
- Streamline tasks and give clarity to the freelancer on the exact deliverables needed
- Inspire the best creative work
How to write a creative brief
Writing a creative brief may sound simple, but it is genuinely an iterative process that requires a lot of introspection and feedback from all parties involved. According to research, a third of marketing budgets are wasted due to poor briefing, with 83 percent of those surveyed thinking that the typical brief could be more focused.
The key to an excellent creative brief is staying concise but detailed. It’s a careful balance to strike, as you’ll use it to avoid misunderstandings and encourage accountability for the project’s goals.
Here are three tips to encourage others to stick to the creative brief:
Share the brief with all stakeholders
Before and during the kick-off meeting, share the creative brief with all stakeholders and upload it into a clear, easy-to-find place. Add the brief to the meeting agenda and invite all attendees to review it and go over it during the meeting to catch any questions.
Use a freelancer management system
While the team may have several meetings internally or chit-chat at the water cooler, the freelancer is only sometimes present for those. In many ways, a freelancer is only as good as the brief. That’s why it’s crucial to have a freelancer management system like Worksuite to assign tasks and attach relevant briefs and comments.
You can easily combine this creative brief template with Worksuite’s Task Templates and quickly assign the brief with just a couple of clicks, leaving more time for the freelancer to deliver amazing work. With Worksuite, you can manage your freelancer onboarding, projects, assignments, invoicing, and payments in one centralized platform.
Reiterate with every conversation
With many projects, short-term or longer, it’s essential to reiterate what success looks like and the purpose in every conversation. With every meeting, email, or review, pull up the creative brief to review the initial requirements to keep the project within scope and with the metrics in mind. Store the brief in a clear, easy-to-find spot. For example you may use a collaboration tool like Notion, Asana, Monday.com, or Worksuite, and let everyone know where they can find it for reference.
What should I include in my creative brief template?
The why are we doing this? Whether it’s an ad campaign or a blog post, clearly stating the project’s objective is vital to the success of the project. The objective will establish the end result and purpose of the project. The objective will also help identify the right freelancer for the project and what stakeholders are needed for decision-making.
The problem that needs solving.
In a sentence or two, share what the challenge or problem that you need help solving. This section ties very closely with the brief’s objective, which provides the end result and deliverable. The problem is what we are trying to solve, the reason we are here discussing this project and its challenges. For example, the problem may be “lack of engagement on campaign A” and the objective of the brief is “get more donations and shares to campaign A to fund X.”
Identify each member’s project scope and assignments, including freelancers, as this will help determine the budget, timing, and expectations. Having clear communication in the beginning with your remote contractors will help avoid any blockers in the future and keep the project moving. Identify with stakeholders what’s a must-have, nice-to-have, and outside the scope.
Identify roles within the project.
Who are the decision-makers? Who will be accountable for approving reviews if the project manager is leading the project and managing deadlines? Who will be required to give feedback? Who only needs to be informed? Clarifying this will help push the project forward seamlessly and help with follow-ups.
Staying within budget is critical to the success of a project, but this is also why a clear creative brief is important before a kick-off. Set the total budget with the project’s stakeholders and book freelance creatives, operation costs, etc., accordingly.
With the project objective in mind, identify the target audience to identify the pain points and possible solutions that this project will bring. Share essential data about the audience, including demographic and behavioral information, to understand who the project is for.
What’s the one thing you want your audience to remember or key ideas you want the audience to walk away with after interacting with the project? This key message is often tied to the brand—perhaps a feeling or sense of loyalty—or it can be creating an urge to sell more products, produce more donations, or for the customer to engage more with the application. The one thing could also be a call to action. This section ties very closely with the target audience and objective sections.
Share a brand voice or style guide, if applicable, for your freelancer to nail the tone during the first version of the deliverable.
Guidelines and examples of past projects.
If you’re briefing a new freelancer, it’s always great to include relevant examples of previous successful projects. It will help set a guide for how to approach the project, and ideally, inspire them.
Competition & differentiators.
If applicable, a detailed competition overview, including links to their offerings and why your value proposition is different.
What does success look like?
This project will be a success if… This section of your creative brief is essential for ongoing discussions, milestone check-ins, and review processes. Explain the quantifiable metrics and KPIs (you should have at least one) to aim for with the project to make sure that the freelancer can keep those in mind when creating the deliverables. This is how you’ll know if the project was a success.
Main deliverable details.
Now the fun part — what is the deliverable? State the content, design, and actual context of where it will be displayed in this section. Is it an ad campaign? What deliverables are needed by the end? A website, social media assets, a billboard, or a video? Be specific when talking to stakeholders or external clients to set up your freelancers and team for success.
Let’s customize your creative brief template
Ready to refocus your team and knock your next freelancer project out of the park? The perfect creative brief for your projects will come from iteration and workflow review. Continuous feedback and post-mortem conversations will lead to better versions of your creative briefs.
Keep listening to your internal team, freelancers, and clients to find the gaps in your creative operations, and get everyone on the same page.
Get started by downloading our creative brief template below. Now go forth and create!
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