Introduction. Describe your organization—give a business overview, your marketing history, a description of your product/service, and the reason for the creative brief.
Project details. Explain the scope of the project—what it’s for, when it needs to be complete, and how it may or may not tie into other marketing efforts (television, advertising, new product launch, rebranding, company launch, etc.).
Goals and objectives. Explain goals and creative objectives (leads, sales, branding, etc.).
Audience. Describe primary and secondary audiences, demographics, target personas, and geographic location, if applicable.
Competitive landscape. Describe your competition and list their websites or other competitive web marketing references. The competitive analyses of rival websites could be one of the most instructive and important sections of your creative brief.
Learn what the competition is doing right, doing wrong, or not doing at all. Rather than wasting time reinventing the wheel, it is better to reverse engineer what the competition has done. Don’t copy them or spend time critiquing why your site will be better than theirs; just learn how they attacked similar web marketing problems and goals.
To get the widest horizons possible, take a look at a minimum of five competitors: the three best sites and two of the worst. While it may seem counterintuitive, the folks who do it badly are often the most instructive teachers.
There is an old saying that a translator is like a person who looks at a beautiful tapestry and then turns it over to examine the stitching. Well, prepare to really examine this stitching. Create a simple spreadsheet to keep track of each item of the competition’s tapestry:
– What is the visual impact?
– How many faces are there?
– Do they use sketches, cartoons, or photography? Are the images stock photography or original images?
– How is the navigation on the website? What are the fi rst navigational items that people notice?
– Is there a clear call to action? Are there several? How are they highlighted? Do they use call-to-action text or a button? If so, how big and what color?
– What is the color scheme?
– What is the good, the bad, and the ugly? List what you like and what you don’t like.
– What is the overall tone: fun, arty, or businesslike?
– What are the top menu items?
– How is the latest news highlighted?
– How does the website highlight the best deals?
– Where do they place their e-mail list opt-in?
– Are there social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.) links? If so, where?
– Does the website segment the home page to appeal to the desired target market(s)?
– Does the content look fresh or stale?
– Is there is an e-commerce component to this website? If so, count how many clicks it takes to buy an item.
– Is the website messaging clear? Is value clearly communicated?
– Does marketing messaging convey value clearly?
Value/Value Proposition. What does a prospective customer need to know about the value your organization offers in order to want to work with your organization, act, or buy? Highlight the benefits and value of the product. Sometimes a USP (unique selling proposition/point) or tagline says it all. A designer needs to know the value marketing messaging as well to weave into the design. The more content given to website designers, the better they can plan and design value messaging into prominent areas of the website.
Critical communication points. These are the necessary pieces that must be included in the marketing copy/messaging. Critical communication points could include features and benefits, unique selling points (how your company differs from the competition, testimonials, and so on. Address your customers’ wants, needs, and fears and if possible, why your product and service can help them overcome their frustrations and achieve their desires.
Communication media. Explain the ways you want to communicate via online marketing (web, print, e-mail, PR, etc.) and if any multi-channel media apply (using multiple channels to complement one another). If the website design/development project is going to be coordinated with a particular event, promotion, or marketing strategy, it would help to communicate that in advance.
Design preferences. Communicate any style guidelines (font, format, photographic/illustration techniques, logos, colors, etc.). Describe the look and feel you want. Examples of other websites they liked can be a great conversation starter between marketers and artists. Any examples of work or details that might help illustrate your wants and ideas will assist the artists. Communicate what you do and don’t like about each example. For example, if there is a website where you like the photos or a font, then be specific about that. Be clear in communicating your likes and dislikes, and why.
Budget outline. Call out the budget requirements, if applicable. References. Ask for examples of work and a list of past clients to contact to get to know your potential design partner/programmer.
Approval process/considerations. Communicate how your organization will make their hiring decision (cost, creativity, scope of services, etc.).
Contact information. Who are the primary and secondary contacts if there are questions, updates, or clarifications?