The ultimate creative brief template: Scribe's key to high quality content

At Scribe, our editorial client work always begins with a creative brief.

When clients fill out our creative brief template, they not only get the chance to express fully what they want, but they also get to guide us to produce our work as efficiently as possible.

A creative brief helps us navigate our client’s “why” and also answers many other questions about the assignment up-front: who we’re writing for, what the work is about, and by when we need to deliver it.

This clarity helps us not only achieve client happiness, but also happiness internally among our writers, editors, operations team, and account managers.

Click here to download a free creative brief sample now.

Click here to download a free creative brief sample now.

Creative briefs: Why bother?

Everyone likes to be on the same page, everyone likes to be clued in, and everyone appreciates a little guidance to get started. It’s this bit of upfront planning and deliberate action that helps save us from disorganization, confusion, and wasted time.

As we all know, the more changes later on down the road, the more costly and frustrating it becomes for everyone involved.

Get the ultimate creative brief template now.

After multiple iterations, we think we’ve finally nailed down the creative brief template that works best for us as well as our clients.

You can get a version of the creative brief sample that we actually use to make your own creative brief outline, or for your next writing project, for free right now.

Use it for blog posts, articles, presentations, reports, and anything else that might need some project planning.

You can also use or tweak it as a roadmap for other kinds of projects, such as creating new products, tools, or apps.

We hope you download it, enjoy it, and most importantly, share it.

Now, we go in-depth into the questions and components of our creative brief.Who are you writing for?

Ninety-nine percent of the time, your blog is an extension of your brand, product, or service.

Never forget that you’re out there to serve your readers, customers, and audience. Duh. But oftentimes, we see inexperienced writers and content marketers writing for themselves.

You’ve got to show people what’s in it for them if you want them to click a button, fill out a form, or purchase something.

You can’t just tell them how wonderful your company, product or service is, or that it’s the best thing in your industry, and so on. That’s just self-serving.

That’s why we ask, “Who are you trying to reach?” so that (without going into detailed metrics) we can fully understand if your target audience is primarily businesses, consumers, retail buyers, industry specialists, or all of the above.

What’s your article about?

We need to understand what your article is about, in a nutshell.

We usually ask for a few bullets that can comprise the “TL;DR”, or “too long, didn’t read,” section in blog speak.

If we know these points up front, then we have a pretty good idea of what your blog’s about.

What’s the purpose and goal?

We ask you to state why you think an article is important, and what you want it to achieve.

When attempting to answer this, keep two questions at the top of your mind: This should answer a reader’s “So what?” or “What’s in it for me?”

What can you show the reader, versus just telling them? This will clarify the value of the article for your audience.

One easy way to clarify this is with a “so that” statement. Here are some examples:

We want to show customers how to resolve common issues x and y on our resources page, so that they can spend less time on the phone addressing those same issues.

We want to show people how to prepare for consultations, so that we can save time during our actual consult and focus on their needs.

Due dates and deadlines

These should include some key milestone dates as well as the final due date.

For projects with multiple editorial rounds or stakeholders, it often helps to include check-in, or milestone, dates so that everyone can be aware of the progress made during the project. To achieve this, you can start from the final deadline and work backward to hit milestone dates.

Keywords, Research, Quotes, Links

This section is for any specific keywords, research, quotes, or links that you’d like included in the post.

You may have specific brand copy or slogans that you’d like mentioned. Or perhaps specific research to cite.

Here’s where you can also list deliberate keywords for the article; Perhaps they’re the result of a thorough SEO keyword audit or research.

Miscellaneous items. Anything else?

Sometimes the template isn’t enough and that’s why we include this section.

We ask if there’s anything else on your mind or anything specific you want addressed that you haven’t stated above.

Here, you can mention any preferences for the article regarding voice, tone, flow, or structure.

For example, if you want a more smart, lively, professional, or even sarcastic or funny tone, this is where to you can indicate your preferences.

What happens when you stray from the brief

It’s also entirely possible that clients stray from a brief or go in a different direction — we get that this happens.

However, when the scope or or work product must change significantly over the duration of the project, this could be the result of several things: Perhaps the client wasn’t ready at the beginning of the project. Perhaps a different format is desired. Perhaps the budget has changed. Perhaps there is internal misalignment. Or perhaps another stakeholder introduced at a later stage brings different ideas to the table.

Whatever the reason, when this happens, it can throw a wrench in the creative process. If the changes are substantial enough to compromise the original intended work, then a new consensus should be reached, which may include a new creative brief.

Nailing down the process

Over time, you may wish to tweak or even truncate your creative brief to better suit your needs.

For example, the more and more you collaborate with a certain party, the more you’ll understand some parts of the brief, so a full brief may not be required for subsequent projects.

If a client doesn’t take the time to complete a creative brief at the outset, then ensure that they understand how multiple changes later on may result in change fees for the additional time and energy it takes to shape the project into their expectations.