13: The Creative Brief

The "creative" brief describes the objectives of an advertising campaign, generally in terms of the way in which a given project will serve to help an organization accomplish its goals. In effect, it is the planning document that is used to describe the campaign.

Such a brief identifies the target of a campaign (market segment), what the campaign is intended to accomplish, and how the campaign maps to the overall marketing strategy. It may get into more granular details, such as a specific promotional "deal" that is being offered.

From a perspective of measurement, analytics can help by providing information about the market in their as-is state, setting measurements to track the effectiveness of the campaign, and measuring side effects (such as the effect of a given promotion on brand equity).

Analytics and Creativity

The author attempts to distinguish between the use of analytics to test a design and the use of "creativity" to come up with a design in the first place. He stumbles about the topic a bit and ultimately ends wit ha bit of a shrug and a reference to being "inspired."

Insofar as analytics are concerned, they can be helpful in supporting design. Executives do not understand design yet want to "choose" the design of their site - when options are presented, they seem to pick what they "like" and any input from subordinates tends to be political - either agreeing with the big dog, or saying things they expect he will find agreeable. Almost invariably, they will pick the worst of the lot.

While such types can't fathom the principles of design and what makes one approach better than another, they do understand simple mathematics - and that's where analytics come in. Qualitative research can be done to discover what is appealing to the users of the site; quantitative research can show which design is more effective in encouraging the desired behavior. This makes the matter of design easier to "sell" in terms the executives can understand and will generally support.

A Sample Creative Brief

The author provides an extended example of a creative brief. Its main sections are:

  1. Objectives - States the goals the project seeks to achieve (brand goals and business goals)
  2. Target - Specifies the target market
  3. Strategy - Indicates the way in which the present project will attempt to achieve them
  4. Core message - A terse statement that the project presents (for a marketing/branding campaign)
  5. Concept - The basic idea of the initiative, stated as succinctly as possible
  6. Offers - The value proposition presented
  7. Components - The communication strategy for the campaign, in all media
  8. Milestones - The schedule