The importance of the creative brief

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Advertising that connects and differentiates starts with the creative brief

Advertising that persuades and connects with the target audience is a strategic investment. It’s the only medium that the advertiser can control the placement, content, and frequency of message. Therefore, it’s important to make sure the creative development of the ad is on target to achieve the business objective and inform the potential new customer of how and why the product offering will improve their lot in life.

When the creative team is assembled, one of the first steps in the creative process is to dissect the creative brief for objectives, strategy, and target audience. Depending on the objective for the campaign, additional information – technical specifications, competitive analysis, pricing – also may play a pertinent role in the developing the creative strategy.

The creative brief also serves as a document of communication between client and agency as to the campaign objective, points of differentiation, and media channels that will be used to reach the target audience. When the client signs off on the brief, it gives the creative team the green light to start the concept phase for ad development. In addition, it also becomes a document that measures the creative journey to achieve the business objectives and keeps the creative team on course.

Essential elements of an effective creative brief

  1. Communication objectives – What is the advertising charged with accomplishing?
  2. Creative strategy – What must the advertising demonstrate that will persuade the reader to take action?
  3. What is the product offering – A single sentence that identifies what the client has for sale.
  4. Market segment/ Business segment – What is the industry and the vertical market that would be interested in the product offering?
  5. Identified target audiences – Where decision makers and influences are identified either by title, job description, or by audience segmentation.
  6. Attribute/benefit/emotional connection to the brand – Product attributes and benefits are identified and prioritized. In this step the client’s product is compared against the competition to find a point of weakness and product differentiation. Also, the customer’s emotional need for the product offering is identified and the brand connection is established.
  7. Key messages – Based on attribute and benefits, key messages are formulated, directed to purchasers and influencers.
  8. Competitive situation – Where the competition is identified and analyzed. The goal of this phase is to understand the external forces that influence the market segment, purchasing decision and product positioning.
  9. Media strategy – Which media channels – print, internet, social, inbound — will be used to engage the target audience.
  10. Budget – What is the investment the client is making in the advertising and how will the advertising be evaluated for its contribution to revenue generation?

Advertising that produces results, builds the brand, and differentiates the client’s product offering never happens in a vacuum. It’s the result of collaboration, encouragement, and risk-taking by all the stakeholders involved in the advertising effort.

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