How to Write a Creative Brief that Drives Brilliant Marketing

4 min. read

Lorna Keane / March 24, 2017

A killer creative brief hinges on solid, accurate research. It means talking to customers and consumer-facing staff and matching these insights with those you get from in-depth data to find out exactly who you’re speaking to.

This kind of research reveals fundamental truths around their perceptions and what really influences their behavior, helping you to spawn a rigorous and inspiring creative brief, capable of unleashing pure brilliance. So what does it take to write a brief that works?

1. Create a pen portrait of the consumer.

“Once you get the consumer part right, everything else aligns”, says Tom Primrose, Planner at Southpaw. Knowing exactly who you’re speaking to is essential for any creative to come up with ideas that stick.

By building out personas that are true to life, you can create that accurate pen portrait that helps the creative to get inside the mindset of their audience – understanding their needs, wants and desires, and forming ideas that truly reflect them.

2. Outline the problem at hand.

“We can’t come up with our creative campaigns until we’ve done the research”, says Kitty Lockyear, Consultant at Engage, by Bell Pottinger.

“For the creative brief, the most important thing to understand is the overall business objective and how we’ll achieve this.”

While there are several problems to solve with any one brief, it’s important to maintain a focus on your audience and the solution you’re offering.

Are sales down for a given consumer segment, for example? Is there a need to change wider perceptions of the brand? Getting to the root of this means putting yourself in the shoes of your consumers in an effort to build that radical empathy that’s so pivotal to the creative process.

By clearly outlining the big problem you want to solve, this will help the creative to concentrate on what needs the most attention and produce something that’s sure to make an impact.

3. Turn your data into a powerful insight.

Turning marketing data into actionable insights is often the most challenging part of the creative process. It’s these insights after all that drive brilliant ideas, so perhaps the most important element of any creative brief.

For every agency or marketer, an insight means something different, but in all cases, it translates a fundamental truth about your audience. For Jamie Robinson at WeAreSocial, “an insight isn’t something you find, it’s something you create.

A fact, a finding, a data-point, or an observation is not an insight for us. Those are things we might use to create an insight, which is around this unspoken interpersonal truth that a brand can play a part in.”

Jamie explains how this could typically be no more than two sentences that you can stick on the wall to drive the creative process: “This describes the interpersonal truth that we want our idea to hook onto.”

“It feels like a revelation when you find it”, says Tom Primrose, Planner at Southpaw. “It’s a real truth about a consumer, or a product or even the market.” Highlighting the example of Sport England’s ‘This Girl Can’ campaign, Tom explains how the inspiring insight at the core of this campaign is essentially what led to its success.

Translating an insight in this way can be done with the help of audience profiling data that quantifies the behaviors and perceptions of your audience. By analyzing what matters to them most, you can uncover the data you need to create an outstanding insight, and in turn, brilliant ideas.

4. Give a reason to care.

Customers are driven by emotion first and foremost. Many marketers make the mistake of overlooking this fact, focusing instead on a brand’s offering and the superiority of their product or service.

But the best examples of marketing that works have people at their very core – messages stemming from powerful insights that speak to consumers on a deeper level, giving them a reason to care.

The latest Activia “It Starts Inside” campaign, fueled by insights created with GlobalWebIndex, is a prime example of how a brand can tap into the emotion of their audience. Taking this emotional advertising approach for the very first time, Activia’s inspiring campaign set out to “encourage women to achieve their full potential by overcoming their inner critic.”

With more and more of the world’s leading marketers recognizing the importance of appealing to consumer emotions, portraying this emotional offering to the creative is just as important as the challenge at hand.

5. Find out where they are.

“When briefing the creative, I need to be able to tell them where the consumer is”, says Tom Primrose. Communicating this information is key for the creative to come up with ideas that fit with the platforms, channels and behaviors in mind. Tom explains how this ensures no opportunities are missed and every idea has an audience-centric focus: “For one brand recently, we saw that Pinterest was massively over-indexing for their audience – I explained this to the creative who had a great idea around how we could use Pinterest in a really unique way.”

Using audience profiling to find out where your consumers are and what they’re doing will give you that 360-degree view of your audience, to nurture the ideas that count. This information needs to be given to the creative in the most visual and transparent and way possible to guide the creative process in the right direction.

What’s your creative process? Join the conversation by commenting below.

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