How to write a “MINI” creative brief?

Arguably things today are moving faster than ever. Slide1With the advent of new media options such as social, digital and search media, the list of tactics is longer than ever.  Opportunities come to brand leaders needed quick decisions and even faster execution. Brand Managers are running like crazy to get everything done. Quick phone calls with the agencies and emails to keep everything moving along. So many times I’m seeing teams spinning around in circles of execution and I ask to see the brief and the answer is quickly becoming “Oh we didn’t have time to do a creative brief”.  You always need to take the time to write it down.  

Elements of communication strategy

First off, I would hope that every brand has the discipline to do an advertising strategy that should answer the following six key questions.

  1. Who Do We want to sell to?  (target)
  2. What are we selling?  (benefit)
  3. Why should they believe us?  (RTB)
  4. What Do We want the Advertising to do?  (Strategy)
  5. What do Want people to do?  (Response)
  6. What do we want people to feel?   (Brand Equity)

Once you have these six questions answered you should be able to populate and come to a main creative brief.  To read more about writing a full creative brief follow this link:  How to Write an Effective Creative Brief


Back when we only did TV and a secondary medium it was easier. We’d spend months on a brief and months ago making the TV ads. The brief was approved everywhere, right up to the VP or President level. But now the problem is when you’re running around like  a chicken with its head chopped off, you decide to wing it over the phone with no brief. It’s only a Facebook page, a digital display ad going down the side of the weather network or some twitter campaign Who needs a brief.

If I could recommend anything to do with communication: ALWAYS HAVE A BRIEF.

The Mini Creative Brief

Focusing on the most important elements of the brief, you must have:

  • Objective: What do we hope to accomplish, what part of the brand strategy will this program.   Focus on only one objective.  
  • Target:  Who is the intended target audience we want to move to take action against the objective?  Keep it a very tight definition.  
  • Insight:  What is the one thing we know about the consumer that will impact this program.   For this mini brief, only put the most relevant insight to help frame the consumer.  
  • Desired Response: What do we want consumers to think, feel or do?   Only pick one of these.  
  • Stimulus:  What’s the most powerful thing you can say to get the response you want.


Going too fast sometimes takes too Long

If you choose to do it over the phone, you’re relying on the Account Manager to explain it to the creative team. Days later when they come back with the options, how would you remember what you wanted.  If you have a well-written communications plan, this Mini Brief should take you anywhere from 30-60 minutes to write this. The Mini Brief will keep your own management team aligned to your intentions, as well as give a very focused ASK to the creative team.   When you need to gain approval for the creative, you’ll be able to better sell it in with Mini Brief providing the context.  

Pressed for time? Next time, try using the mini brief


To read more on Creative Briefs, follow this presentation


Bringing our blog to life through video

000f51eAt Beloved Brands, we have created a new video Series called BELOVED BRANDS 180. Each video will be 180 seconds (3 minutes) in length and our goal is to get Brand Leaders to do a 180 on their thinking. We want them to think different, because the thinking that got you this far, might not be enough to get to where you want to go next. Today’s video topic is “How to write a brand positioning statement”. Brand positioning statements provide the most useful function of taking everything you know about your brand, everything that could be said about the consumer and making choices to pick one target that you’ll serve and one brand promise you will stand behind. While we think this brand positioning statement sets up the creative brief, it should really set up everything the brand does–equally important for internal as everyone should follow to what the positioning statement says.  

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Graham Robertson

Graham Robertson is one of the voices of the modern brand leader. He started Beloved Brands, knowing he could make brands better and brand leaders better. Graham believes passion matters in marketing, because the more loved a brand is by consumers, the more powerful and profitable that brand will be. Graham spent 20 years in brand management leading some of the world’s most beloved brands at Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer, General Mills and Coke, rising through the ranks up to VP Marketing. Graham played a major role in helping Pfizer win Marketing Magazine’s Marketer of the Year award. He has an MBA from the Ivey Business School, ranked the #1 International business school by Business Week. As a Brand Coach, he can help you create a winning positioning statement for your brand, write a brand plan everyone can follow, find advertising that drives growth and train your team of Brand Leaders on everything marketing. The client roster for Beloved Brands includes the NFL Players Association, Reebok, Pfizer Capital One, 3M, Sun Products and Earls. Graham’s weekly blog ( has a vast following with over 3 million views, and his public speaking appearances inspire brand leaders to love what they do.

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74 thoughts on “How to write a “MINI” creative brief?
  1. Pingback: How to write an Effective Creative Brief « Beloved Brands

  2. miriam hara

    Great post Graham! The best way to evaluate if you have a good brief (when you create one) is to keep it brief (Sorry, I couldn’t resist!) while incorporating all the “need to haves”.

  3. jamesgangcreative

    Got two questions for you: Do you still find you have to write the creative briefs, or mini briefs, to win the account? Or, are you getting the account or the commitment prior to the brief?

    Back when we did all that creative time as you mention, the months of work, etc., we were actually on the clock. Sometimes we had to do huge spec jobs just to get the client to say okay (MadMen, but most of the time we pitched the client on our “laurels” unless it was a huge account. Now, it seems more people are shopping for the quick answer, hence the quickie idea before committing.

    It’s this conundrum about briefs and plans now that is hard to get past since so many potential clients just put out RFBs (requests for bids) from everywhere: down the street or over to New Delhi. How do you handle this?

    The second part of the question is, what if the client wants part of the plan, the tactics so to speak, the “how” – (Facebook or radio, tv or tweeter) in addition to the brief in order to commit?

    I find I’m being put in the position of giving them the positioning statements, the creative process, in the brief … spending that ton of time again rather than saying, “you can see the quality of the past work. That’s what you’ll get. Are you interested in my going on the clock to produce this?”

    You offer some great advise here. And I’m “relearning” lots, refreshing my process with your posts. Thanks for sharing. It’s also refreshing. (One of my bugaboos is how unwilling so many “creatives” are to share from past experience).

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  14. Lusa Dunbar

    I couldn’t agree more. With 7+ years of consulting…Unfortunately I still see this in small and large brands. Crazy! Another great post Graham!

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  35. Copywriter Collective

    Love your Post Graham!

    While weeks and weeks of research might go into a creative brief there’s something magical that happens when it’s forced to fit onto a single page. All the details and complicated data suddenly clarify into a single, single-minded vision of what the creative team is meant to achieve.

    More on the importance of a creative brief i did on this article.

    Keep rocking!

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