dog reading a book creative brief blog, by Scott Silverman, Los Angeles copywriter and brand discovery.

The sharper your creative brief, the more explosive the copy writing, the more ingenious the design


The creative brief is assignment-based. If your brief is accepted by your copywriter, graphic designer or other creative partner or vendor, it means there is general agreement that the creative challenge isolated is the right one, that it has been stated precisely, that it is likely solvable and that you should expect to see a solution or solutions that answer to it.

Though there are currently 18 questions on Articulated Brands’ creative brief, some key points to consider are:

  1. Are we throwing the kitchen sink at them, laundry-listing our way into marketing oblivion, or have we used the creative briefing process as a way to whittle down and hone in on the single most powerful and important thingto be saying at this point in time?
  2. Have we been anticipatory about the creative process? Have we made clear choices (often 51/49 decisions) with respect to those factors that would detract from problem-solving focus?
  3. Are we selling company, product and service features over benefits? An even more exacting art/science: have we chosen the right benefit upon which to hang our marketing performance hat?
  4. Do we have any NEW unique insights about ourselves, this segment or the marketplace in general? NEW means if we want this communication to score better than our last, most recent initiative, what are we willing to let go of and what new brand marketing or brand messaging principle or company sales idea are we willing to embrace?
  5. If there are multiple audiences or objectives, has a proper hierarchy been established to avoid a muddled message?
  6. Is this the right medium for this message?

Not all brand strategists, creative directors or copywriters bring a pragmatic business development mindset to the creative briefing process.

It’s not that the questions from one agency’s creative brief to another’s are all that fundamentally different. What matters is that you’re working with someone with enough experience to be able to trace the creative trajectory of any given point, notion or stipulation in the brief, sufficient tact and diplomacy to know where and when to probe more deeply and challenge the assumptions, but also enough instinct and confidence to know that an ounce of prevention in a creative brief is worth tons of post-execution doubt, debate and delay.

You can be a growth hacker without being a creative hack.

When working at the creative brief level, it is assumed you already have a tight Unique Selling Proposition or USP (company level) and tight Unique Value Propositions or UVP’s (products & services) in place. It is assumed you aren’t looking to re-position or re-brand the entire company with one small creative assignment. The gains we seek are increased impact, increased attention and increased action, all because we took the time to more precisely set our target sights. But what too many on both the business side and the creative side of marketing fail to acknowledge is that a tighter, smarter brief doesn’t interfere with creative marketing magic. It precedes it. Or, as John Dewey stated it:

“A problem well put is half solved.”