An ad agency creative brief is one way to get your creatives to stay on target when they may be struggling. In today’s digital, data driven agency environment — many agencies struggle to keep their creatives on target. We’re evolving from the Mad Men era where creative was king to a time when results, ROI and metrics are the sexy way that we bring in clients and billings.

So, given the environment and the fact that your creative team is probably feeling a little displaced — how do you keep your creatives on target?

An ad agency creative brief is one way to get the ball rolling.

First let me say this — many creative professionals in the agency business get it.  They understand that their job is to help the client’s cash register ring and that creative for awards, for pride or for cool just doesn’t cut it.  But even the best of them can get off target.  To be fair — sometimes the creatives aren’t on target because the account team set them up to fail.

  • Bad (or no) creative briefs
  • Unreasonable timelines
  • Unclear deliverables, details or wishy washy facts

Regardless of the specifics — it’s incredibly costly (time, money and morale) to have the creative team work hard on something only to have the account team say it’s so off target that we can’t show the client. Ideally the entire agency should be constantly screening work as it evolves to make sure it’s on strategy and going to be well received by the client.  It doesn’t mean they have to buy it — but they do have to feel like their money was well spent when they pay you for the development.

No matter what the circumstances — it helps to have clarity throughout the process to avoid getting off target. That’s why I created this simple list of questions that creatives can run through to make sure that they’re hitting the mark.

  • Does this creative clearly and persuasively present the core idea/message identified in the creative brief?
  • Does the creative itself (funny for the sake of funny, pretty just to be pretty, etc.) get in the way of the primary selling message?
  • Is the creative squarely aimed at the emotional buying triggers of the key audience identified in the creative brief?
  • Is the creative’s look/feel and tone in the native communication style of the key audience identified in the creative brief?
  • Is the creative arresting enough to get our audience’s attention?
  • Is this creative within the brand and graphic guidelines of the client?
  • Is the creative in any way in conflict with other messages, brand values, or campaigns that would run concurrently?
  • Is our client’s brand clearly represented so that there’s no confusion as to who owns the creative?
  • Is the tone/style/message of the creative something that will reflect well upon our client
  • Can you think of any reason why the client would dislike or object to this creative? (May or may not be a good reason for showing it to them)

Your ad agency creative brief is a perfect time for you and your team to ask these questions. If your creative team uses these as a guideline AND uses them to walk the account team through the creative concepts so they can answer the client’s questions/concerns and have a deeper understanding of the why behind the creative — everyone wins.

Not only can these questions keep your creatives on target, but they will also help your account folks sell the strongest concept and drive those metrics/ROI that the client is ultimately looking for.