Be Brief or Beware: Why Creative Briefs Are Essential for B2B Communications

Why a creative brief is an outsourced writer’s best friend 

A long time ago, one of my VPs hated a direct mail piece we created. Which was awesome. Because the creative brief clearly outlined that it was for 16- to 19-year-olds. And the VP was … not.

In this instance, the creative brief kept the team (and its long line of approvers) aligned on the audience, key messages, and goals. It documented the project’s requirements and kept everyone accountable to them, whether they personally “liked it” or not.

This is especially important for freelance and outsourced creative professionals, whose livelihoods depend on whether someone “likes” their work. Creative evaluation is often subjective; measuring performance against clearly documented goals is not.

What should a creative brief include?

A creative brief is a short summary of your project: what it is, who it’s for, and why you’re creating it. It doesn’t have to be long or fancy. In fact, keeping it succinct helps everyone stay focused on the goal. 

You can add more details and context, like personas or a list of the audience’s pain points and motivations. The schedule and distribution plans are important, too. But don’t get bogged down with complicated backstories or too many details. Keep in mind that you’ll often have style and brand guides to lean on, so you don’t need to recap them here. 

The tighter the focus, the better the brief.  

Who should prepare a creative brief?

Is it the client’s or the creative professional’s responsibility to write the creative brief?

There’s no right answer here, as long as you collect the info. Remember, clients often outsource because they don’t have time. You have to balance getting enough info to do good work and being easy to work with.

If paperwork is a roadblock for clients, write the brief for them. Or use other methods to gather the input you need. Use the creative brief as an agenda for a kickoff call or to guide client conversations. 

Does every project need a creative brief?

Your time is money, and you don’t want to waste either heading in the wrong direction. Outsourced creatives should get a creative brief approved before they start any work, especially for new clients. 

Creative briefs can protect you against “scope creep” or schedule changes. And they’re a good reference point for quality control. Before you send work to a client, come back to the brief to make sure you addressed everything on their wish list. 

No matter how long you’ve been working with a client, you need more input than “I need an email” or “design a brochure.” Make sure you have a clearly defined vision for your work, whether or not it’s in the form of a creative brief. When you recap the audience, objective, and key message, it reminds clients that you know their business — and it’s in good hands. 

Looking for a template?

We’ve got you covered. Here’s ours.

Four women work on a creative brief together.


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