16 minutesBy Canva Team

Writing a creative brief: How-tos, templates, and tips

Discover what a creative brief is, its purpose, main components, and various types. With our guide and templates, learn how to write a creative brief to guide stakeholders toward a project’s success.
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What is a creative brief?

A creative brief is a document that outlines the strategy for a creative project. It states its goal and vision and clearly details the steps to achieve them — basically, it’s the roadmap(opens in a new tab or window) to a creative project’s success.

It also provides stakeholders with awareness of their responsibilities and a document to consult for questions and requests. This makes pivoting as smooth as possible, especially when there are many teams involved in the project.

An example of a Creative Brief doc

Lead your next project to success with a well-crafted creative brief.

Although it is typically only one or two pages in length, a creative brief is important in aligning everyone involved in the project. Collaborative document creators like Canva allow you to make a brief that gets everyone on the same page from when the work starts until its completion. That’s why a creative brief must be finalized and agreed upon by all stakeholders during a project’s initiation phase.

Who writes a creative brief?

The person to write the creative brief depends on the professional set-up between the stakeholders. Typically, there is usually a client who approaches a creative agency for a project. Among larger organizations, a company would tap its in-house creative team.

In either setup, the stakeholders who have the most knowledge and understanding of the nature of the project and the client’s expectations would be the ones to prepare the creative brief.

  • Agencies: For a creative agency that's been approached by a client, the creative director and the account manager or executive directly working with the client would collaborate on writing the creative brief. Prior to a working document, the account manager or executive must first discuss with the client their requirements, expectations, available budget, and preferred deadline for the project’s completion.
  • In-house creative teams: The creative director and the project manager are responsible for preparing the creative brief in consultation with the in-house client. Since all of the stakeholders involved are already familiar with the company’s branding and purpose, the brief-writing process could be smoother.

Why make a creative brief?

When writing a creative brief, there are additional questions that must be asked to make its contents clear and concise. As the stakeholders meet to discuss the development of the creative brief, it’s important to raise the following questions:

  • What is the project’s key message? It’s a single statement to condense the project’s essence into a direct and motivational call to action for the audience and later helps fine-tune your messaging and tone.
  • What values does the project add to the business? It can determine how the project fits into a company’s overall long-term goals and if its success will support them and contribute to stronger branding.
  • Who are your competitors, and what have they done? Analyzing your competitors gives you context to their successes and failures. You’ll have a better sense of what strategies to apply and which pitfalls to avoid.
An example of Product Marketing brief

An example of what a product marketing brief looks like.

Considering these guide questions helps you build a stronger creative brief that will allow you to reap the following advantages:

It breaks down all the steps needed to achieve an objective

Projects can feel like a massive undertaking when viewed as a whole. With a creative brief, the stakeholders get an action plan that makes the whole endeavor feel more manageable. It presents the necessary steps, process mapping(opens in a new tab or window), and the order they should be done for a project to progress.

Since a creative brief breaks down the complex processes involved in completing a project, it makes checking their development more convenient. Areas of friction or difficulty also become easier to identify and address with the proper solutions.

It gets everyone working on the same page

A project typically calls for collaboration across teams. No matter the number of stakeholders participating, they all must be in agreement over what the objectives are, the steps toward achieving them, and their roles in its fulfillment.

Not only does a creative brief state the project’s goals, but it also clarifies the approval hierarchy and process. This is handy for instances when pivoting becomes necessary due to unforeseen changes.

However, doing proper research during the course of writing a creative brief can already reveal possible challenges. This information can be used to refine the strategy presented in the document.

Visualize your action plan
A block of text can be intimidating to take in. Simplify the steps involved in completing your product by presenting them to stakeholders in a workflow diagram.
A comment on a Campaign Brief doc

With Canva Docs, you can add comments on your shared doc to leave ideas and suggestions for teammates.

It saves everyone from scope creep

Scope creep(opens in a new tab or window) happens whenever a project’s list of requirements keeps growing beyond what has been agreed upon. This is usually caused by the lack of a creative brief. With the project’s goals and the process of their completion not clearly defined, sudden additional requests from a client may get accommodated, leading to more tasks, surprise expenditures, and moving deadlines.

Beat scope creep
Learn more about scope creep and how to set your project scope effectively.

Types of creative briefs

The type of creative brief you make depends on the kind of creative project on hand and the assets and deliverables it requires. Tailor fit your creative brief in a way that captures the look and feel of your ideas early on and projects them to your stakeholders.

An example of a Design Brief

The overview section of your creative brief details your project’s purpose and main objectives.

Marketing creative brief

This is the type of creative brief required by a project that aims to create visual marketing materials and outline a marketing strategy for their distribution for a campaign. The campaign can be for a product, a brand, a website launch, or a rebrand for an existing business.

Design creative brief

This type of creative brief guides the design development process for either a digital or a physical asset or product. If it’s for a website design project, the overall UI/UX design is included in the creative brief, including the number of website pages required and the content needed for each one.

Advertising creative brief

This kind of creative brief organizes the process of ideating a new advertising campaign, either for a TV commercial, a billboard, or a printed ad. Since most advertising projects are client-commissioned, an advertising creative brief makes the communication and information-sharing process between the clients and the creative teams more efficient.

Video creative brief

Marketing and advertising campaigns often involve video production to drum up hype for a brand, and that part of the project could require its own creative brief. The document’s contents would, therefore, be more focused on the requirements for the final video. The creative brief could also be presented in video format so the video team’s ideas for the messaging and tone are better conveyed.

Develop your design ideas
Cultivate different design ideas for a project with a digital mood board to which members of the creative team can contribute. Start with a template and ideate with your team in real time.

What to include in a creative brief?

Depending on the type and nature of a creative project, a creative brief may include some components and details that are specific to the tasks and goals involved. In general, however, there are certain elements of a creative brief that must always be included for it to be effective.

An example of a Creative Brief Content

Before diving into your creative brief, it’s best to outline the contents and create clearly defined sections.

These identify a particular project from other ones that the stakeholders are also concurrently working on. It also provides a short description of the project that gives everyone on the team a quick and clear idea of why they are involved in it.

It presents a company’s long-term vision and mission. It explains the motivation behind the project, including the opportunity or challenge it aims to address. In stating a project’s purpose, a creative brief shows the values behind the solution it offers.

This is the part where the project’s goals are stated. Project goals are determined through a thorough discussion between the stakeholders so they're not only achievable within a specific period but are also specific, relevant, and measurable. Project goals must have all of these qualities so they can properly guide the stakeholders on what they must do.

This provides the stakeholders, especially the creative team, with a picture of the project’s target audience. This will help them customize the most effective creative approach they could take to address the target market.

Identifying your audience means specifying their demographic. Include their age range, gender, location, socio-economic status, interests, and more. It'll also be helpful to indicate if the project aims to tap into a current customer base or expand to attract a new one.

Once the stakeholders are familiar with the target audience, it’s easier to develop the right messaging and tone that will make them more receptive to your project.

If a project is client-commissioned, the client would usually provide the brand guidelines that must be applied to the project’s message. However, the actual design and copy details are worked on by the creative team.

List the creative assets that the creative team must deliver. It specifies the intended medium for these assets, whether they're print ads, videos, social media posts, and more.

Technical details are also included, such as the print or video dimensions, logo size, branding design elements, the number of versions to be submitted, etc.

Identify all of the stakeholders involved, along with their respective designations and roles in the project. This helps keep everyone accountable, especially when different departments are working together. It also clarifies the chain of command in terms of the approval process.

Figures are crucial as they influence the decision-making in every phase. Research and determine the financial costs involved in a creative project’s execution. Specify the budget allocation in this section so the different teams involved would know the financial limit they must observe and work with.

Everyone must follow a set start date for the project and the target deadline for its completion. In between, there must be specific dates set for checking off milestones for every phase of the project. These dates will help keep everyone on track and also provide a realistic idea of how long a task needs to be done. The timeline can be adjusted while the creative brief is not yet finalized. Once it is, the timeline it presents must be strictly observed.

Detail the distribution strategy for each deliverable, including the channels that will be used to reach the target audience. Will the creative assets be for online distribution only, or will traditional media be used as well? What kind of paid advertising, if any, will be done? Determining these details requires an in-depth understanding of the project’s intended audience, the budget allocated for its distribution, and the messaging and tone used in its creative assets.

How to write a creative brief effectively?

No matter the nature of a project, the creative brief you write for it must contain key elements. Look into creative brief templates from Canva that include the necessary components you can customize for this document. Learn how to write a creative brief that starts your creative project on the right foot and has every stakeholder working in alignment for its successful completion.

How to write a creative brief effectively

Clients must provide a clear description of their business, their target audience, the role that a project plays in their business branding and success, and the deliverables they want. The creative team must then use smart design and copy for an effective communication strategy. Account managers and executives bridge both sides and consolidate their expectations and responsibilities.

Align with stakeholders
Creative briefing begins with a clear understanding of each stakeholder’s expectations. This sets the tone for setting specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely goals.

After the preliminary creative briefing, you can begin drafting the elements of your creative brief based on what was discussed and agreed upon. Choose an example from document creators like Canva and customize free creative brief templates that capture your visual ideas and vision. Be as clear and specific as you can when writing each section. Remember, though, that at this point, the creative brief will continue to evolve as further review and discussions between stakeholders lead to revisions.

Based on the project’s goals, specified target audience, distribution strategy, and the client’s branding guidelines, the creative team now develops the messaging and tone for the deliverable assets.

The creative director and/or project manager not only guides the team members in coming up with the visual design details and copy specifics that would support the project’s objectives. They must also consult the creative team on what a reasonable timeline is for executing each creative task.

When naming the stakeholders involved in the creative brief, their roles and responsibilities must also be listed. A change control plan must be outlined, too, so there is a clear approval process in place in case changes need to be made down the road.

In creating a timeline, specify the dates and deadlines for each stage of the project. Allocate sufficient time for each project phase so the work that gets produced is of quality. There should also be enough room for reviews and necessary edits. This is crucial when the production of physical assets would have to be outsourced, such as having to work with printers for print ads.

Once you’re done writing the creative brief draft, share it with the other stakeholders and gather their feedback. Thus, any change that has happened between the initial creative briefing and the submission of the draft can be addressed and integrated into the document’s revision. Be aware that this step could happen several times.

However, account managers and executives must be firm with the number of revisions a client is allowed to make. This is to avoid an endless back-and-forth of comments and changes that would further push back the project’s start date and completion.

After gathering feedback and making necessary edits, finalize your creative brief and share it with all stakeholders. Make it clear to everyone involved that the creative brief must be properly followed. Any changes or delineations from its guidelines must go through the approval process provided in the document’s change control plan.

Get inspired with creative brief templates

It doesn’t matter if it’s your first time writing a creative brief or you want to introduce a standard system for creating a more effective one. Let our well-designed creative brief templates guide you. Whether you need a marketing creative brief or one for product design, you can find a template with a layout that fits right in with your business, branding, and project requirements. Customize its contents so your team has its own creative brief template that’s efficient and easy to use.

All you need in a creative brief maker

You don’t have to make a creative brief from scratch. Create the roadmap for a creative project’s success, from an advertising creative brief to a video production creative brief. Find the perfect creative brief template you need and customize it to your project with ease, thanks to the user-friendly editing tools on Canva Docs.

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Best practices for writing a creative brief

The timely and successful completion of a creative project starts with an effective creative brief. It must state the project’s purpose and goals clearly and provide a defined strategy for achieving them. Keep in mind the following tips on writing yours so you come up with a reliable roadmap for every project.

Gather information and input first before everything

Since a creative brief is written during a project’s initiation phase, sufficient research must be done to determine the details of its contents. Hold a creative briefing with the stakeholders before drafting your creative brief, so you get as much information as you can from the people involved in the project.

Avoid information overload and organize the data you’ve gathered with visualization tools. Document them with our available graphs and charts and put them in order through bar graphs, flowcharts, and more. That way, you have a quick, easy-to-understand, and accurate source when drafting your creative brief.

Use clear and concise language. The creative stuff happens later.

Drafting a Creative Marketing Brief using Magic Write

Magic Write helps get the creative juices flowing. Use the AI writing assistant to generate ideas when writing your brief.

Even though a project is about producing creative assets that offer solutions to a target audience, its creative brief must use clear and concise language. As a roadmap for a project’s execution, its guidelines must be specific so there is no confusion on what needs to be done, how it must be done, and when it should be done. A creative brief is effective when it’s easy to reference, and its contents are straight to the point and unambiguous. To make the drafting process quicker and simpler, rely on an AI writing assistant like Magic Write.

Be open to the creative brief evolving as you draft it

It’s okay to take the necessary time and effort to write a creative brief. After all, it is the document that stakeholders will constantly consult as they work on the project.

Putting this document together requires research and collaboration so that the guidelines it presents are clear and effective. From the first creative briefing, a creative brief’s contents will evolve as stakeholders provide feedback on the accuracy and feasibility of its details. Revisions are not meant to be the cause of the delay of a project’s launch. They’re crucial in making sure that the project starts on the right footing and progresses as smoothly as possible.

Rewrite Social Media brief using Magic Write

Stuck on a paragraph? Use Magic Rewrite to fine-tune your message.

Creative brief FAQs

A creative brief is important because it guides the stakeholders through each stage of a project. It gets them aligned and working on the same page from its start until its end.

This is crucial for endeavors that require collaboration across multiple teams. With the creative brief’s guidelines, stakeholders won’t have to set up too many meetings to check in on the project’s progress. They remain accountable, too, for performing their responsibilities. A well-written creative brief can also answer questions about the strategy for completing the project.

A creative brief is typically only a page or two in length. Being specific with the details of its contents helps improve this document’s brevity. Even though it’s intended to guide a creative project, a creative brief must be written concisely so it’s easy to reference. This helps avoid confusion when there are many stakeholders involved and there are multiple deliverables required.

A client brief is a document that states the client’s requirements for a project. Unlike the creative brief, the information it contains refers only to the client’s expectations. It can be prepared by the clients themselves and it can also be done with the help of an agency’s account manager or executive.

Having a complete client brief can help ease the process of writing a creative brief. It can be used as a reliable basis for the latter’s sections that would need the client’s input. Much like a creative brief, a client brief is shared with an agency or an in-house creative team only when it has been approved and finalized by the client.

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Create a project’s roadmap for success with a creative brief

Write a creative brief that will be effective as the whole team’s ultimate guide for a project’s successful execution. Be guided by the templates available with Canva’s creative brief maker.
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