creative_briefEvery project we work on starts with a creative brief. It doesn’t matter whether it’s the first project with a new client or a client we’ve done dozens of videos with. Every video is being created to serve its own unique purpose and assist the client with its own purpose and distinctive set of goals.

The worst thing a client can do is rush through the creative brief. It’s cheating the process. By denying the video agency the depth they need to understand the problem, the audience and ultimately to get their creative juices flowing to come up with a clever and unique visual story to your problem.

Our creative brief has about 30 questions, all serving various purposes and depths of information we need to get started. Here are the main themes most of the questions center around:

What is it?

In other words, why are you making a video for this product or service and what is the videos purpose? It sounds kind of silly but it’s a very important albeit basic question we need to understand. We need to understand your product or service as completely as possible, including the “secret sauce” that makes it so awesome as well as any shortcomings that some viewers may have with it. Anything that is critical to your product or services success or failure is all stuff that we need to know.

We also need to understand how you plan to use the video. Some videos have a very specific usage. Maybe it’s just used as part of a kiosk at a help desk. Or if it’s part of your sales process, is the video serving at the top of your sales funnel or is it further down your sales process?  Where the video will be viewed by the end user helps us determine how focused the content needs to be as well as how long the overall video is to hold their attention and keep their curiosity piqued.

Who is the audience?

Who is watching, or more specifically who ultimately will be making the decision to buy, is critical to the success of your video. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what our client thinks, all that matters is what the people making the purchasing decisions think. So the video needs to be geared specifically to that audience persona. For instance, let’s say you offer a service that solves a technically challenging problem. The engineers get it, but they don’t make the purchasing decision, that happens to be made by the CFO. The CFO has a basic understanding of the problem but not to the depth of the engineers. You need to break down your message so ultimately the CFO gets it. Then engineers will understand the benefits because they are more technically proficient, you can always gear other more snackable technical content for them. By identifying this audience persona it also helps pin point other things like aspects of the visuals, the music that we use and who the “voice” of your product or service is. Is it male or female? Is the tone conversational or more informational? Once we know your audience we can start getting “inside their heads” and crafting a video experience that would be the most appealing to them.

What does the viewer do next?

More specifically, we’re looking for what metrics you’ll be tracking to evaluate the videos success and want to make sure we’re creating a powerful call-to-action that is going to help you meet these goals. We may even recommend a video hosting solution to you that would best help you achieve the success you are looking for.

Another aspect we’re identifying in this section is are there more than one calls-to-action needed. For instance, if the viewer is watching your video on YouTube, the call-to-action should be to get them to your website where you can control the user experience. Otherwise if they are left to their own devices on YouTube they are more likely to watch a competitor’s video or possibly even a video of a cat playing a ukulele. By comparison, if they are watching a video on your website, your call-to-action shouldn’t be to visit your website, they’re already there. On your website your call-to-action would be more direct by having them sign up for a free webinar, request a consultation or sign up a free trial.

The creative brief is what we rely on to get up to speed and understand what it is we’re making a video about. In most cases our entire process is completed in 6-8 weeks, which means in most cases we get about a week to understand as much about the product or service as we can in just a few days. The client by comparison has been working on their product or service offering for months or even years. So you can see why the creative brief is so critical.

What about you? What are some interesting questions about your product or service you’ve been asked that really got the creative juices flowing?


Eric Guerin is the founder of Adelie Studios. He chooses to use his creative powers for good and not evil by helping businesses to better market themselves using animated marketing videos. He can easily be bribed with coffee. Read more of Eric’s posts