No more rounds of revision. This free creative brief template gets you great work on the first try

When you work with agencies, freelancers, copywriters, graphic designers, or video producers, you need to give them the key info required to get great work done on time.

To avoid nightmare rounds of revision, missed deadlines, and an all-around headache, we created this creative brief template — so that you can keep everyone on the page and get great work done when you need it.

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What is a creative brief?

A creative brief is a document that helps graphic designers, copywriters, freelancers, agencies, and other people working on a marketing campaign get the key information they need to execute. Creative briefs are most commonly used when an internal team needs to pass information to an agency, or when one internal team needs to communicate with another team.

The benefit of a creative brief is that it gets everyone on the same page. Instead of having kickoff meeting after kickoff meeting, going through 5 rounds of review without satisfying anyone, and missing deadlines or having poor execution, a great creative brief lets graphic designers and copywriters get what they need and get to work.

When you use a great creative brief template, a creative brief helps you:

  • Make sure everyone understands the goal of the campaign
  • Get everyone info about the scope of work and budget for the campaign
  • Ensure agencies, designers, and copywriters have all the voice and tone and brand guideline documents that they need to succeed
  • Set clear deadlines, including overall timeline, stage of each deliverable, and rounds of review

How do you create a great creative brief?

5 things to include in a creative brief

A great creative brief can get everyone on the same page. But what should you put in a creative brief?

These are the five more important elements of a creative brief:

  1. Campaign description and goal
  2. Scope of work, budget, and deliverables
  3. Target audience
  4. Voice and tone/brand guidelines
  5. Timeline, deadlines, rounds of revision

1. Campaign description and goal

What campaign are you trying to run, and what do you want to accomplish?

When marketers write creative briefs, it is usually because there is an upcoming marketing campaign that requires some outsourced work.

But what is the campaign for? Is it for lead generation? Demand generation? Brand awareness? Customer success? Engagement? A new product launch? Press and PR hits that build journalist relationships? Event marketing? Publicity stunts?

The world of marketing has a million different campaign types, and as many different campaign goals. You wouldn’t want your product launch campaign to not include the product, right?! Make sure that your brief has clear information about what will be measured and how.

2. Scope of work, budget, and deliverables

What do you need done and how much can you spend to get it done?

You don’t want to open the email from your designer and see work that isn’t what you expected. A creative brief should clearly detail exactly what work is being requested.

Some examples that often appear on creative briefs, statements of work, or RFPs:

  • 8 long-form 2000-word blog posts per month
  • 4 different social media images sized for Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter
  • 15 variations of an image for a Facebook Ad
  • 3 videos, 30 seconds each, to be used in YouTube Ads
  • Copy for 5 pages of a website, specifically the home page, about page, contact page, pricing page, and services page
  • 10 emails, including design, copy, and HTML, for an email nurture series that welcomes new customers

In some cases the creative brief is more of a campaign brief or even a strategy brief, and what you’re asking for help with is defining a campaign strategy. Even then, you should share that you expect “a campaign strategy that includes Facebook Ads, blog content, and nurture emails,” or whatever your expectation is, in as much detail as possible.

This helps both you and the creative — you get a clear scope of work and list of deliverables, and the creative is able to push back against scope creep if necessary.

If your campaign includes paid ad spend, make sure you include an advertising budget. You wouldn’t want a huge campaign proposal to take over the billboards in Times Square when you only have the budget to run a few podcast ad placements.

3. Target audience

Who is the target audience of your campaign?

Great customer research is at the heart of every great marketing campaign, and understanding your buyer persona, your ideal customer profile, and the customer segment that is the target of this campaign will help creatives make great work for you.

Make sure you include information about:

  • What your ideal customer is looking for — their pain points and challenges
  • Any message testing, market research, or focus group research you have access to
  • Past campaign performance targeted at the customer segment, if you have it
  • The key messaging documents that you have used for this segment in the past
  • Basic demographic information, such as geographic location, gender, age, and income, that may be relevant to the campaign

In general, understanding your customers’ pain points and the language they use to describe their problems is the best way to come up with great campaign creative. A lot of creative brief templates focus too much on demographic information — it’s useful to have the basic income, age, location information available, but unless your campaign is centered around demographics, messaging is more important.

4. Voice and tone/brand guidelines

You get your deliverables back, but they’re all wrong! The voice and tone don’t sound anything like you, the brand imagery is wrong, the brand colors are off. Well…at least they probably got the logo right.

You can avoid brand nightmares by making sure you have clear guidelines available in your creative brief template. Your brand guidelines can include your colors, logo, imagery, font, typography, examples of past work, examples of brand “dos” and “don’ts,” and anything else that you feel is important to your brand.

Voice and tone guidelines or style guides can include information about:

  • Brand terms (like your name)
  • Your voice (are you calming or energetic?)
  • Your tone (formal or informal?)
  • Grammar guidelines
  • Writing mechanics (numbers, percents, abbreviations, dashes, capitalization)
  • How to talk about groups of people (e.g. the singular “they” or guidelines around age, gender, race, ethnicity, and sexuality)
  • Formatting guidelines for your brand

Avoid confusion by making sure creatives have all the info they need in the creative brief template.

5. Timeline, deadlines, rounds of revision

When does the work need to be done?

You don’t work to be late, and the best way to get work on time is to clarify what “on time” means.

One of the biggest challenges with timelines and deadlines in a creative brief is not building in time for revisions. If your deadline for the work to be finished is the day before the campaign launches, what happens if you don’t like the work you get back? There’s no time to review.

Every great creative brief template should include exact dates for every deliverable, the number rounds of revision that are allowed, and the turnaround time for revisions. Once you submit your revisions, will it take 2 days or 2 weeks to complete them? Make sure that the creative brief has these details so that everyone can agree in advance — and you don’t wind up with any nasty surprises.

How do you write a creative brief

Here’s how to write a creative brief:

  1. Add background information about the campaign and your objectives
  2. Include scope of work, exact deliverables, and your budget
  3. Give info about your target audience, especially their pain points and messaging
  4. Share your voice and tone guidelines, style guide, and brand guidelines
  5. Make sure to clearly state timelines, deadlines, and rounds of revision

If you include that information, you’ll have a creative brief that gets you higher quality work and never misses a deadline.

And you don’t need to start from scratch! Download a creative brief template example to get started without staring at a blank page.

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Start a 14-day free trial of ActiveCampaign. No credit card, no setup, no hassle.