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Design for Impact: The Value of a Creative Brief

Published: November 13, 2017

Author: Adrienne Abrams

Lately, we’ve been thinking A LOT about process on our Creative Team. Why? Well, let me take a step back and explain.
When I started at 3Q close to four years ago, there were two people on our Creative Team – that is, a designer and me. Fast forward to today, and there are nine of us and a handful of contractors. With growth comes growing pains. As the team grew, we realized the need to be strict with our process. So, we approached it from a few different angles. Aside from cleaning up our project management, which we’ll tackle in another post, we thought long and hard about the ingredients needed for strong creative that met our clients’ needs and had a real impact.

Now, we could talk for days about what makes creative successful. However, before one even gets to designing, we need to know what we are creating. This information is typically provided in the Creative Brief. The brief acts as our blueprint for the project. While it doesn’t take the place of conversations or meeting, it acts as our guide for the specific deliverable.
The Creative Brief is not the holy grail, but it does need to be complete and accurate. Without all the details in one place, you run the risk of your creative missing the mark. Plus important information could be overlooked or missed. The Creative Brief format or layout will vary across agencies, but the ingredients should be consistent.
At 3Q, we break out our briefs into several different sections:

  1. Overview – This information is very straightforward and deals with the project management portion of the project: contact info, project type, due date.
  2. Creative Guidelines – This includes your brand/style guide. We’ll need these to ensure our designs are on brand and fit into your style. Having these is paramount!
  3. Campaign Objectives – We are now getting into the meat of the brief. Here’s where we learn about where/how the creative will be used, where it will be run, where the creative assets will land, e.g your landing page, etc.
  4. Audience – It’s really important to have a clear understanding of the ‘who’: who is your target audience – the geo, the demographic or audience detail, really any pertinent information about who your customer is (or who you’d like them to be). It’s also important to understand your competitors. This will allow your creative team to better understand what’s happening in the space and to get a clearer picture of who you are.
  5. Project deliverables – Here’s where you’ll tell us exactly what you are looking for (the tangible goods) – number of variations, ad unit dimensions, etc.

Once all the details have been provided, we ask for a bunch of other pieces to round out the creative brief. Depending on the deliverable these will vary, however, this list is a great starting point:

    • Current/past creative + performance reporting
    • Logo, fonts, brand/hex colors (and brand guide)
    • Image library
    • Any other additional info that might be useful

The creative process should always be a collaborative one. We always tell our account teams and clients – you are the expert on your business. However, the more we can partner, the more successful we will all be!
Let’s start designing together! Reach out to learn more how 3Q creative improves conversion rates and wins business.

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Chicago, IL 60602(650) 539-4124


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