Where Do You Start? The Creative Brief

When you have a new client, there are lots of ways to get to know their needs. One of the first things you and a client should work on together is a creative brief.

What is a creative brief?

A creative brief is a document in which the goals, audience, and intensions of a project are outlined. With a creative brief, you can work with your client to understand what story they’re trying to tell, and that story guides production. But even more importantly, the creative brief can tell you the personality of your clients and help you discover the voice that they use in their work.

Established companies

If you’re working with an existing company that is not looking to rebrand, a creative brief will help you understand their existing brand elements – colors, fonts, keywords, and so on. Working within a company’s existing style guides and branding means your ideas will be part of an existing conversation. You’ll need to understand the evolution of the messages you’re working with and what preceded them. Did past campaigns work? Why or why not? How is this project different?

Building from the ground up

If your client is a new startup, you will have more conversations about brand creation within your creative brief production. Starting from the ground up can be a fun way to get to the know the client and allows you to innovate. In the creative brief, your client can focus on their message – what it is and what it is not. Staying on task and keeping a project within its scope is sometimes difficult, so having a creative brief will give you a touchstone.


One of the important parts of the creative brief is to consider what obstacles a project might face. Is funding tight? Is the timeline too long or too short? Are there any other constraints that might impact the project? Having an open conversation about problems that might come up is important for your relationship with your clients.

Above all, the creative brief should be a starting place for all client projects. Once you have an established relationship with a client, you can focus more on particulars of each job, but you will always want to pay attention to targets, scope, and audience. A creative brief will make your life easier and let your clients know you care about their goals. It’s your roadmap to success!

Marcia Eppich-Harris

Marcia Eppich-Harris is a writer, editor, entrepreneur, and creative director. With strong attention to detail and a critical eye, Marcia innovates everyday ideas, making the ordinary extraordinary. Her love of writing, theatre, literature, history, and philosophy inspire creative ways to market your passion.

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