How to Write the Perfect Creative Brief (in 30 minutes or less)

You know, we try to simplify the video production process as much as possible, but admittedly, it’s still very involved. But an involved process doesn’t mean an intractable one. And there’s an early stage in the process where you can get a birds-eye view of your entire campaign to help you see the forest for the trees in your ads.

It’s called writing a killer creative brief. And you can do it in 30 minutes or less. 

(Yes, of course you can take longer–but you don’t always have to.)

Keeping a strong eye on writing a great creative brief will help alleviate any production headaches down the line, while also establishing at the very beginning a more sustainable work-life balance for your marketing teams. And fun fact, we had a webinar on this exact topic called Balancing the (Work-Life) Force: How to Streamline Video (without sacrificing scale). Watch the recap today.

Before we dive in, you should know that writing great briefs isn’t something the advertising world really sees eye-to-eye on. The brief process is vital, as it gives clients and creators clear direction on the overall look, feel, and goals of any given ad campaign. 

According to a study from BetterBriefs, a research firm dedicated to this part of the production process, 90% of marketers & 92% of agencies agree ‘the brief is one of the most valuable yet most neglected tools to create good work’. The main benefits of using briefs include:

  • Understand the client, product, or service
  • Learn about the messaging
  • Find out the overall scope
  • Identify specific goals
  • Sketch out a budget
  • Lock in timelines

But, that’s not the only picture the report paints:

  • 82% of marketers & 83% of creative agencies agree ‘writing briefs is hard
  • 33% of all marketing budgets are wasted on poor briefs and misdirected work.
  • 80% of marketers believe they write effective creative briefs, while just 10% of creative agencies agree with that assessment.

What this research tells us is marketers and advertisers need to brush up on their brief best practices so they can clear up any miscommunication, whether it’s with clients or interdepartmentally, as you head into the video production process. 

Let’s double-click into the high-level sections every brief must have.


Business Objectives (at 5 minutes) 

We’re like 99% sure you’ll have these in your back pocket the moment you decide you want to create a video ad, but just for a little added reinforcement, make sure you are clearly communicating in the brief your campaign goals. This will help the creator understand why the client wants to make the video and then gear the production towards that goal.

As you sketch out your business objectives, you’ll also want to be transparent about your production budget. How much you have allotted – or are willing to spend – for creative will directly inform what you include in your brief.

Examples of some general business objectives routinely used for video ads include:

  • Launch new product 
  • Increase Direct Response on Social
  • Build brand awareness
  • Create a viral moment

Message Objectives (at 10 minutes)

What are you trying to communicate with your video ad campaign? Are there key words or phrases that are vital to understanding the message? Clearly communicating the message you want to craft will help the creator understand what the audience should take away from your ad.

Examples of some general message objectives routinely used for video ads include:

  • Communicate product benefits
  • Explain or educate potential customers on your brand
  • Introduce a limited time offer or sale

Emotional Objectives (at 15 minutes)

Think of this part as a more refined version of your message objectives. More than what you want them to take away, what emotion do you want to leave them with to keep your brand in their mind? From joy to sorrow to fear, emotions are key in video ads, so ensure that you communicate what you want the viewer to feel clearly in your brief.

Examples of some general emotional objectives routinely used for video ads include:

  • Gain trust
  • Make them laugh
  • Get them excited
  • Stay Serious and informative

Concept (at 20 minutes)

What ideas do you already have in your head? Make sure you are clear and concise with what you want the video to convey. Who do you want to see in this video? Where does your product fit in? What are the actors’ objectives? Where will the ad take place? Answering these questions will help the client and creator remain on the same page about the overall vision.

Along with your concept, include examples of past creative (either first- or third-party) that can give the creator a better visualization of what you want the ad to look like.

General creative elements to consider when concepting

  • Talent
  • Props
  • Location
  • Action

Audience (at 25 minutes)

Here’s another aspect of the creative brief that you likely already had in mind when you first heard the words, “Why aren’t we doing more video marketing?” Different audiences crave different styles of content, so by giving the creators a clear idea of who you want to reach, they’ll be able to develop a video that can directly speak in that audience’s language.

Examples of general audience cohorts routinely used for video ads include:

  • Gender
  • Age
  • Location
  • Interests

Platforms and Deliverables (at 30 minutes)

At the start of your campaign, you’ll need to know which platforms you want your ads to run on, because each–from social to CTV–comes with its own set of technical specifications that your videos must meet. Giving creators an idea of your distribution plan will help them better cater the videos to the native experience of each platform. 

Knowing your platforms will also help you decide on what and how many deliverables you need. If you plan to run ads on both YouTube and TikTok, you’ll need videos in different aspect ratios, runtimes, and creative styles. 

Examples of general creative elements to keep in mind when planning your platforms and deliverables:

  • Aspect Ratio
  • Length
  • Music
  • Subtitles
  • VO
  • File type

Creative Briefs: Just One Part of a Healthy Work-Life Balance

Writing a quality brief can clear up any confusion that may arise once you enter the production phase. You know what else can clear up any confusion? Watching our webinar with Advertising Week, Balancing the (Work-Life) Force: Streamlining Video (without sacrificing scale). Catch the on-demand webinar here.

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