Summer travels are over and the kids are headed back to school? Most of us spent some of that summer on the road. Whether we were headed to the Great Smokey Mountain or the Grand Canyon, a lot of us used our GPS to get us safely to our destination. Why, do we use maps?

1. We have a finite schedule
2. We have a finite budget
3. We want to get to where we’re going

Sure it sounds obvious, but we don’t usually set out on a destination without first knowing where we’re going. Only after we know where we’re going can we determine how best to get there.
The same is true for video production. But instead of GPS, we use something called a Creative Brief. It’s a roadmap AND a destination. Don’t be confused by the name. A Creative Brief is strategic document, not a tactical one. While it’s not creative, it is the foundation for the creative that will follow. In fact, you could say, it “briefs” the creative.
Our Creative Brief is a simple one page document that asks 8 questions. Those 8 questions guide everything else related to your video production – including the message, the audience and determining the ultimate success of the project. Here’s what our Creative Brief asks.
1. What is the objective/project purpose?

In other words, what do you need to accomplish? Usually this is expressed as an action and focused on what the project should make your audience think, do or feel.

2. Who is the target audience?

Who are we talking to? More than a sterile demographic, you want to express what they think, feel or how they relate to your product, service, etc.

3. What do you want this audience to think or do differently?

In the end, you want to call your audience to some kind of action. This is where you identify that action. Again, be as specific as possible.

4. What is the single most important thing you want to convey?

If you could only say one thing, what would it be? What do you want your audience to walk away with?

5. What’s the single biggest issue/challenge related to the success of this project?

It’s important to be aware of the obstacles that must be overcome in order for your project to succeed. This could be something concrete or simply an attitude, but in either case, it should be identified.

6. How do we know we’re right about our message?

What tells you your message is on-target? It could be research, past experience, etc. It should be something more than a hunch. It should be tangible.

7. How will we define success for this project?

This could be a 15% increase in sales of your product or a reduction in slips and falls from employees who follow the new procedure, etc.. The more tangible this can be, the better.

8. Are there any sacred cows (mandatories, requirements)?

What has to be communicated? It could be the distinctions of your product, a reference to a new employee policy or a specific tag line. In any case, if it’s mandatory for your message, it goes here.

Now these questions may seem simple on the face, but getting the right answer should require some digging and soul searching. Stay focused. You’ll be tempted to talk creative, but don’t fall into that trap. At this point, stay focused on the strategy, the big picture, the ultimate destination.
A good brief and the discipline to follow it will save you a lot of time, effort and headache down the road. On target and on message is your goal.
Remember, if you have

  • a finite schedule,
  • a finite budget,
  • and want to get to where we’re going as quickly as possible… you want to a Creative Brief.

After all, the Grand Canyon is a beautiful place to be, unless you wanted to go to the Great Smoky Mountains.

How about you? What is your experience with Creative Briefs?