The Creative Brief


By Matte Black's Strategy Team

Creative process needs to be just that, a process. There is no better place to start than the beginning, because if you don't know what winning looks like in the project how will you ever know what direction to head? A creative brief may sound too regimented or tired for your project, but trust me it isn't. Don't copy and paste, don't treat it as a template, take an hour and put together a brief that can act as your north star.


We've worked on campaigns that span half the year, and if you don't have your goals or initial vision written down somewhere very clearly, you will make decisions and creative compromises that take you further from your vision. Here is Matte Black's worksheet for a creative brief that will keep you headed forward:



Client Background: Who are they and what do we know about them? Offerings, past successes, failures, culture relevancies. All those beautiful brand positioning, look and feel, and brainstorm documents should be linked here. 


Project Overview: What exactly are you supposed to be delivering on. This could be a video, this could be photo assets, this could just be a handful of Snapchat filters. Whatever it is, understand here what internal campaigns it ties into and what the opportunities / needs are. 


Project Drivers: Goals, goals, goals. Define what winning looks like at the end of this project. Say, "When this is over, what will need to have happened for us and the client to be happy?"


Target Audience: Is it the brand's entire audience? Just a men's initiative? A play to get the youth into your product? Define age, gender, preferences, relevant other sources and brands for them, etc. Paint the picture for yourself of what this person's life is like. 


Competitor Analysis: What other brands does this project have the danger of feeling like. If you are shooting activewear, understand that Nike has a vibe that you need to differentiate from. Understand what is happening in the market place an do something unique. 


Tone + Perception: Describe the type of language you would like to use, how you want your project to make people feel. Don't lose site of this through edits on the project. 


Look + Feel: Describe your visuals. What are your reference, inspirations, relations to other campaigns? 


Targeted Message: If there is a pre-developed tag line or slogan put it here. Also expand on it to include "What information should the consumer walk away with?".


Best Possible Outcome: Our own addition here. Ask yourself the question, "What is the best possible thing that could happen for our client if we make this right." Make it in a way that makes that a potential reality.


Project Specifics : Can't say the word 'organic'? Need to avoid the color orange? Any rules or must-includes happen here. 


People Involved: Outline individuals involved on each team, what their title is, what they are responsible for (and maybe include cell numbers so people don't have to keep bugging you for it). 


Agree on this with the client. Get this info before you start. Lock it down and understand the direction you need to head in. You can update this document if things change in a big way down the road, but these briefs are helpful to act as a filter for every round of ideation and edits. 


You can lose yourself months into a project, but a well outlined brief will always allow you to center yourself again. 


Want to talk more creative briefs + strategy?