The creative brief: where every great project starts

 
the creative brief

When you commission a copywriter, there is an onboarding period where we get to know your business goals, customers, and brand story. The more insight you provide, the richer the veins we can mine to deliver creative, strategic content. This process is captured in the Creative Brief, a foundation document for any copywriting project.

Beloved Brands provide this useful definition:

“The creative brief frames the brand strategy and positioning so your [copywriter] can creatively express the brand promise... The creative brief is the bridge between the brand strategy and the execution.” 

Larger companies will have a written Brand Strategy and researched Customer Personas in place, which is gold for a copywriter. If you are a small business and haven’t documented your strategy, then we can workshop this with you, so that any investment in content is well targeted. You can fill in a brand strategy questionnaire (like the example below) to summarise all your brand, customer, and market insight in one place. 

Every piece of content has its job

We believe each piece of content has one job to do, for a particular target customer. Trying to talk to all your customers at once will mean you satisfy none of them. Exceptions to this are general pages, such as home pages and company profile pages. Otherwise, most content is there to be helpful, educational or inspirational on a specific topic, for a specific customer.

A good brief should identify:

  • One target customer
  • One stage of the customer journey
  • One purpose
  • One objective
  • One desired response or call to action.

Creative Brief template

This is the Creative Brief template we use when starting a project with a new client. It is suitable for most small copywriting projects. For large projects – such as a website re-write – we dive into greater detail for each website section, top-level page, and level two information pages. If you have a small project, please feel free to copy, share or adapt this template to suit your needs.

 

1. The project details

Project:

Date:

First draft due:

Final copy due:

Publishing channels:
Delete non-applicable: brochure / web page / case study / blog / news / white paper / email / social media / other

Word count:

People to interview/research source:
(include contact email)

Background documents:
E.g. Brand Strategy / Communications Strategy

 

2. Brand vision

2.1 What business are you in? 

2.2 Describe your core products/services.

2.3 What is your brand mission?

2.4 Describe your brand promise – the pledged experience.

2.5 How do you deliver the brand promise? Your values, culture and vision. 

2.6 Describe your brand’s personality/character. 

2.7 What space do you own? What is your unique offering? 

2.8 Describe your value proposition. How does your product or service solve your customer’s needs? Is it distinctive?

2.9 What functional benefits do you deliver to your customers?

2.10 What emotional benefits do you deliver to your customers?

2.11 What strengths do you need to highlight? Are there any weaknesses you want to address in market perception? 

2.12 What are the big picture, strategic business goals that this project will help to grow and develop? 

2.13 Describe your target customers. Attach customer personas if you have them.

2.14 Who are your main competitors?

 

3. Target customer and communications objectives

3.1 Who is your target customer for this communications project?
Attach the customer persona if you have one. If not, please answer questions a-e below.

a)    What is their job role?
b)    What challenges do they face that you help them solve?
c)    Where do they look for information or inspiration?
d)    What are their common barriers to purchase your product/service?
e)    What do your current target customer value about you?

3.2 Which stage of the customer journey does this content support?
Brand awareness, exploration, research, decision making, evaluation, purchase, advocacy, repeat.

3.3 What is the purpose of this content? Why are you doing it? Do you want to educate, inform, help, inspire, entertain? 

3.4 What is the key objective for this communications piece? What message do you want to impart to the customer?

3.5 What writing style best suits this project?
E.g. explanatory, persuasive, descriptive, narrative (story).

3.6 What is the tone of voice (or personality) for this project? And what personality traits does it have?
This affects the language we use, the structure, pace and style of the language.

3.7 For online copy, do you have a target list of keywords for this project? 

3.8 What is the desired customer response or call to action? 

 

We hope this was a useful template to guide you through the strategy for your next communications piece. If you would like to discuss your project further, please email Andrea Stevens.


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About the author
—Andrea Stevens

Andrea is an experienced writer and content strategist living in Auckland, New Zealand. She has an unhealthy obsession with her work, consuming books and podcasts about content best practice and entrepreneurship, daily. She started Folio in 2007 as the GFC hit (a feat in itself), has authored four books, been a finalist in the NZ Book Awards, written hundreds of website pages and social media posts, more captions than she'd like to remember, and some very, very long white papers. In its ten years plus, Andrea has developed Folio into a busy writing agency, attracting clients who have the same love for quality writing and brand storytelling as she has. Read more about Folio or contact Andrea directly by email – andrea (@) folio.nz.