Marketing campaigns have gotten complicated these days. They’ve spread well beyond mass media and are now greatly influenced by social, digital and user driven forces. A single project can incorporate three or four targeted teams working to solve a single problem.
So how do you ensure everyone is working toward a single goal? Create a detailed framework identifying the overall project summary, challenges and goals — the creative brief. This roadmap concisely aligns the tone, look and messaging for the entire project, before a pencil hits the paper.
The brief should outline the who, what, where when, why and how of the project. One of the biggest misconceptions is that it’s only for the creative team. Clients also benefit. The brief is their first opportunity to review and approve the project’s direction, ensuring everyone is on the same page from the beginning. It also forces the internal team to think through the objectives, audiences and project overview, identifying any holes or outstanding input. This document should be used throughout the process to evaluate the appropriateness of a solution and overall metrics of the campaign.
Creative briefs are commonly overlooked due to the size of a project, familiarity or time constraints — none of which should lead to excluding the brief. However, these factors are valid and should drive the complexity of the content. Conversations among the creative and account team can help define the depth of the input. Only when all three groups (creative, account and client) are satisfied with the defined strategic approach, should a project begin.
As you begin to analyze the project and craft the brief, the following outline will help define the major areas to consider:
- Situation – Who is the client? What is their product or service? What is their number one challenge? What does the brand stand for? What should it stand for? Begin collecting as much research and information from the client to accurately depict the summary.
- Objectives – What is the project? What are the opportunities? Create three to four benchmarks for a successful campaign.
- Product/Project Specifics – What are the product attributes and main benefits? What are the industry differentiators? Provide as much information about the specific product or service as you can. That way, the internal team isn’t left guessing as they begin brainstorming.
- Channel Focus/Audiences – Who are you talking to? What is their perception of the brand? What motivates them? Where are they talking? Who are the influencers? It’s extremely important to clearly define your MarketPath to distribution. It will directly affect your messaging and tactical recommendation.
- Tone – What three adjectives best describe the product or service? What feeling does it convey? What visuals are associated with the product? How will users’ behavior affect the overall look? Your tone will define the brand and is one of the main factors that creates the initial connection with end users.
- Messaging – What is the primary differentiator? How does your target audience interact with the product or service? Does the current messaging address the differentiators? Does new messaging need to be crafted? A clearly defined message ensures you won’t suffer from an identity crisis. The story should address the concerns and challenges of the target audience while staying true to the tone of the brand.
- Competitors – What does the competitive landscape look like? How is the product better or worse than the competition? How are they engaging with the audience? Where are they lacking in communication? This part is simple: Find their weak spot and capitalize. There’s no sense in being a “me too” in the industry. Find your differentiator.
- Metrics – What is the long-term goal? What are the short-term, measurable goals? How will you gauge success? Too often, creative is launched without a true goal established up front. Even though it may look good, it’s a failure if it doesn’t perform and drive sales, brand awareness or whatever metric is chosen.
- Mandatory Elements – Corporate colors, mandatory fonts, logos? Delivery parameters? Timelines and budget? This will clearly outline the path to completion. It ensures you stay on target from a budgetary standpoint as well as must-have elements.
Once the creative brief is approved, all teams are a go. The designers have a clear roadmap to visually represent the solution, the writer has the messaging direction to craft the story and the account executive has the baseline against which to measure the deliverables. Brilliant solutions start with a smarter process.