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How to develop a creative brief

A creative brief can be a great tool for any communications project. Developing one at the start puts all stakeholders on the same page in terms of project goals and primary tactics.

Building a creative brief is super-easy, generally taking only a couple of minutes. Still, doing this as a matter of practice is unfamiliar at many independent schools.

Here is what a brief should establish at a minimum:

  • The topic that will be covered
  • A sentence or two describing what the work will achieve
  • The people involved in creating and approving this
  • The medium in which the material will appear (printed mailing, online article, website addition)
  • The assets that are needed (text, visuals, design, printing), and who is collecting each of these
  • When the final version is needed (it can be useful to list deadlines for draft stages, too)
  • The length envisioned for the final piece

When complete, the brief serves as a key resource for everyone. It can really help keep things on track, especially when working with other departments or with freelancers.

The process may prompt a couple of obvious questions:

What if I don’t have all of these answers?

This is one of the main reasons for making a brief: It spotlights the pieces that are missing. (The other main reason is that a brief helps everyone understand the breadth and intent of the project.)

If you don’t have an answer or two (say, the deadline date), that’s okay. But implicit in the creative brief is accountability, so just get the answers as soon as possible.

My project is simple. Isn’t a creative brief overkill?

It might be if you’re the only person involved. Even there, though, you might find that the process reveals dependencies that you missed on first thought. And, typically, someone up the org chart will need to at least review the finished product.

Whenever a second person (or more) enters the project, though, a brief is beneficial — even if the project is only a flier — because it ensures that all parties are starting with the same understanding.

And if you enlist a vendor for the project, whether for writing, photography, graphic design, publishing, or more, a brief becomes essential for bringing your partner up to speed on internal discussions or norms.

A creative brief is an essential tool at Fine Point Communications in work with clients. Why not give it a try at your schooI with your next project?

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If you have a creative brief practice, what questions does your template ask? If you don’t have one yet, what obstacles stand in your way? I’d love to hear your replies in the comments.

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