Increase Client Satisfaction with Creative Briefs

If you’ve been a professional creative for more than a year, chances are at some point you’ve had a client not entirely happy with the final product. That’s bound to happen in your career, regardless of what amount of prep you do ahead of time. But it’s unfortunate and unnecessary if it happens due to a breakdown in communication or unmet expectations. It’s for that reason that years ago I started using a video brief (also known as a creative brief).

The creative brief is a short document (usually 2-4 pages) that details what your video (or website, marketing plan, brand design, etc.) will look and be like. In my experience, larger more sophisticated clients will come to you with a brief already created, and they just need a firm to implement it. In most cases though, clients rely on my experience, ideas and expertise.

When starting the process, I first learn as much as I can about the client and their objectives for the video. This is done with in-person meetings, phone calls, and often times a formal questionnaire. I then start writing.

There are no specific formats required when writing a brief. But it’s good if you create a template that you can use as a starting point. My template includes these sections:

  • About Section: a brief paragraph about the client.
  • Objective: a paragraph explaining the client’s objectives for the video. Is the video meant to convert sales? Increase SEO? Educate? Spread brand awareness? Entertain employees? Etc.
  • Concept: this is the meat of the brief, wherein I explain the look and feel of the video. I’ll talk about the kind of music I plan to use and I’ll reference creative inspiration (e.g. other videos; films; TV shows, etc.). I’ll usually include what’s called a “mood board” in this section. This is a collage of images (video stills and photos) that convey the proposed look and feel for the video. In some cases, you may want to include an actual storyboard.
  • Logistics: I’ll then include a number of sections that delve into logistical details, e.g. locations, dates and times, fonts and color palettes to use (if applicable); whether or not professional talent is required; etc.

Once I’ve finished, I’ll save it as a PDF, upload to Dropbox, then send the client a Dropbox link. Once I get formal approval, the brief becomes the basis for the creative direction and decisions moving forward.

Here’s an excerpt from a brief for a promo film I’m currently working on for a woman that makes furniture out of cardboard.

Creative Brief Excerpt

Whether you shoot weddings or corporate work, I strongly advise implementing some form of creative brief process. Even if it’s as simple as an email.