Why is a good creative brief so important?

Imagine Miguel has a custard tart business, let’s call it Miguel&Custard. He has been in business for a while and his clientele is loyal but very local. In order to grow Miguel needs to widen his customer base. So he decides to book a half page slot for next week, he will run an advert in the most read paper in the city. He briefs a creative designer to create an ‘impactful advert’.

Two weeks later, already missing the deadline for the booked slot, the designer sends Miguel a one pager advert. The advert itself is a yellow page with a black B in the middle.

Was the advert impactful? Yes. Is it any use for Miguel’s business? No.

What went wrong with this creative brief?

Miguel sent a short and concise brief, but he only communicated that he wanted the advert to be impactful, forgetting to mention the size of the advert, the deadline or the business values. Before calling the designer, Miguel should have put together a brief to guide the creative person to the right track.

How to write a good brief?

Your brief should include all the information that the creative agency or freelancer should need to understand the needs and goals of your business. Short is good but it needs to include the key information.

To understand this better let’s help Miguel by re-writing Miguel&Custard’s advertisement brief.


Define your problem and give any data that could help understand the problem, include your business objectives and goals.

In Miguel’s case: Miguel&Custard needs to grow its customer base in order to survive in an ever more expensive world. We currently have a very local customer base, which represents a 2% of the city population.

We would like to widen our customer base to the whole city. To do this we plan to run an advertisement to the most read paper in the city, to create brand awareness and new leads.

Target audience

These are the clients or prospects that are most likely to buy your products. You should include, whenever is relevant, things like age, location, gender, income level, education level, marital or family status, occupation, ethnic background, values…

In Miguel’s case: Our custard tart appeal to Male and female that live in the city perimeter… Their age ranged between 30 and 75 years old, full-time employed and retired that value the quality of the products not necessarily the price.

Key selling points

What makes your product unique and differences them from your competitors.

In Miguel’s case: Our tarts are traditional Portuguese tarts with great flavours and crunchy pastry. The secret recipe from Miguel’s mum makes them unique. So our ad should reflect the quality and the family tradition.


What action do you want your audience to take?

In Miguel’s case: 

We want to create brand awareness
Create new leads
Make sure when people are next near our shop, they pop by to taste our custard tarts.


Where is this creative placed and what are the specifications, usually this information is supplied by the printers or the Newspaper.

In Miguel’s case: We need a half page advert (210x150mm with 3mm bleed), full colour in CYMK.


You don’t have to include this but it can help the designer to know how far he can go on the design, for example if there is a budget for photography or needs to be a simpler advertisement.

In Miguel’s case: We were thinking of spending between £300 and £500 for the design.


Make sure you include when the supplier needs the artwork for in order to meet the deadlines. A good advice is to remember that things take longer that what you think, so allow time for amends and sign off.

In Miguel’s case: We need this advert to be sent to the newspaper in 5 days so if we could get the first draft in 2 days and proof checking.

Notes and extra information

You should include a section with notes and extra information to help the creative to understand what you are after for example if you have brand guidelines, older examples, things you like or things you don’t like.



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