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12.4: Creative brief

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    Before they begin the design process, advertising professionals work on explaining and outlining the advertising plan in a creative brief. This is a document for the creative team, the advertising director, and the client that gives a clear objective for the copy material and explains the overall concept of the campaign. The creative brief is like a game plan—without it, the advertisement may not be successful. You do not have to use a particular writing style, such as AP style, when completing the creative brief. However, grammar, spelling, punctuation, and concise writing are still important. Here are several broad categories to consider when completing the creative brief.

    Key consumer insight

    The key consumer insight demonstrates a clear understanding of the consumer’s general behaviors, beliefs, and attitudes as they relate to the message topic. It also considers general opinions and thoughts about the subject matter. Let’s say you’re developing a creative brief for a cookie brand. Market research and careful audience analysis can reveal key insights into consumer behaviors, such as the fact that many consumers believe that so-called healthy cookies do not taste as good as their high-calorie, sugar-filled counterparts. This knowledge will help you as you design your advertisement.

    Advertising problem

    The phrase “advertising problem” does not refer to addressing a problem within the advertisement itself, or challenges in advertising to the key audience. The term refers to the product’s biggest consumer-related stumbling block. In the cookie example above, the advertising problem is that consumers face a choice between buying great-tasting cookies that are loaded with calories and sugar and buying ones that are low in sugar and calories but don’t taste as good. The consumer insight can inform or help you to come up with the advertising problem. The advertising strategy should address a consumer need or consumer-related problem. Without this, the advertisement will appear pointless.

    Advertising objective

    The advertising objective explains the intended effects of the promotion on the target audience and  clearly articulates the overall goal. The goal is not simply to persuade the audience. Think about how you want the audience to feel or believe about the featured product or service. Or, what do you want them to do in response to seeing the advertisement? An example of the objective for the cookie advertisement might be to convince cookie lovers that the featured product is a healthy option that doesn’t compromise rich, fulfilling taste.

    Target consumer

    The target consumers are people you specifically want to communicate the message to. In order to fully understand the audience, consider their psychographics, or the analysis of their lifestyles and interests. Also include information about demographics, as this factor influences the audience’s day-to-day experiences. Clarify why you’ve chosen this particular audience. Why would these people be attracted to the featured product or service? How would they help the organization achieve its goals? What are the benefits of targeting this particular group? Answering these questions will help justify the selection of the target audience.


    In this section of the creative brief, perform a complete assessment of the competition that considers strengths and weaknesses. Specifically, examine the competitor’s history, products, services, brand, and target audiences. Analyzing key competitors will help you articulate your company’s or product’s marketplace niche, which is very important. You need to establish how your product or company stands out from similar products or companies.

    Key consumer benefit

    The key consumer benefit describes what the consumer would gain from using the advertised product or service. This section also discusses how the product or service solves the advertising problem laid out earlier in the creative brief. Narratives, testimonials, and sometimes research findings can be used as support in the actual advertisement, which helps enhance its persuasiveness.


    The support section explains the validity of the proposed advertising plan. It makes a case for why the campaign will motivate the audience or make them believe that the claims are true. This is particularly important because in order to secure the advertising account, you need to convince your client or high-level executives that the plan will work. Include evidence from third-party sources such as external research studies or polls. Also include feedback from focus groups to persuade the client that the advertising plan is effective.

    Other categories to consider

    Some creative briefs might include a section called tonality. This explains the desired feel or attitude of the advertising campaign, such as “hip,” “classy,” “fun,” “flashy,” or “modern.” You could also include a description of the advertisement’s visual elements, or the creative mandatories. This section should provide a detailed explanation of the images, slogan, logo, and other visual factors so that the client can imagine how the advertisement will look. The creative team usually presents a sample advertisement to the client in the pitch presentation.

    This page titled 12.4: Creative brief is shared under a CC BY-NC license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Jasmine Roberts.

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