Drawing the Roadmap - Why You Need A Creative Brief

This instalment of our blog comes at a stage in a products lifecycle after we've drafted user stories and used these to locate and resource subject matter experts to build it out. Since we're dealing with a lot of hands on deck, it's important to launch an initiative on the same page.

One of the tools we use to prepare for a new project is the creative brief. This is a document that comes out of the discovery process and is used to guide both the creative and technical aspects of the project going forward. It brings together all the key points of research we’ve done and lays out the assignment in clear, concise terms.

We’re really big on prep at Acorn. The more upfront legwork we can do, the smoother the project runs. This does make for a long and detailed planning process, but we’re pretty confident that if you hang in there with us for a bit, you’ll see it’s all worth it.

A creative brief doesn’t actually need to be much extra work. If the other steps in the discovery stage of the project are done thoroughly, the creative brief can be a central repository (see what I did there? #devjokes) of info. Think of it more as a compilation of useful information rather than a from-scratch document.

And while it’s generally a document completed by the client, if you work closely with your agency team, it comes together quickly and serves as a valuable anchor for everyone involved throughout the project.

Example of a Creative Brief

Gathering Info

The more thorough your discovery process, the easier it will be to put together your creative brief.

A useful tool used in a variety of disciplines is a pre-project questionnaire. With my background in photography, I always like to start any shoot plan with a questionnaire. This gives my clients the chance to spend some time thinking about what they most want to convey about themselves and their business and what their vision for the project is (sometimes you don’t know the full extent of what you’re imagining until you write it down!) before I bring my own ideas. We start off on the same page and have a document we can both reference through the collaboration.

The discovery meeting is the next step. It’s a no-holds-barred idea-generation extravaganza. The more you share about your ideas and goals now, the better the outcome will be. From here we refine and refine until we have a clear objective.

Next up, grab your user stories. The more information you collect about your audience–from your marketing personas to your Google Analytics demographic data–the more complete the picture.

To put it all together, I find it helpful to break it down into flexible sections.