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The Creative Brief: The Best Tool For Strategic Planning

The creative brief, often overlooked, is the cornerstone of any successful project. It's not just a document; it's a strategic blueprint that guides every decision, from design to messaging.

The creative brief is a document meant to inform the creative team of the strategy behind an advertising campaign. It provides a framework for the brand team to think through the strategy.

The creative brief is structured as follows: OBJECTIVE, TARGET, INSIGHT, POSITION, EXECUTION, MEASUREMENT.

1. OBJECTIVE : This isn't just about what you want to achieve, but why. It's the compass that guides the project.

" What is the advertising meant to communicate?"

Example: "Increase website traffic by 20% over the next three months."

2. TARGET : Who are you speaking to? Delve deep into their desires, fears, and aspirations. in other words, the specific group of people or segment of the market that a brand or campaign is aiming to reach. This group is identified based on various criteria such as demographics, psychographics, behavior, etc.

"Who is the specific target for the campaign?"

Example: "Millennial parents, aged 28-35, who prioritize organic products for their children."

3. INSIGHT: A deep understanding or revelation about the target audience, derived from research and data analysis. It uncovers underlying motivations, behaviors, or pain points that can be addressed by the brand or campaign.

"What is a meaningful truth about the target?"

Example: "Millennial parents often feel overwhelmed by the plethora of choices in the market and are looking for trusted brands that simplify their decision-making."

4. POSITIONING: This is your brand's promise, its unique position in the market, and the message you want to convey. Positioning embraces 3 elements:

Frame of Reference (FOR)

  • Definition: The category in which the brand competes or the context in which the brand is perceived by consumers.

  • Example: "In the world of footwear, where many brands prioritize style over sustainability..."

Points of Difference (POD)

  • Definition: The unique attributes or benefits that make a brand stand out from its competitors.

  • Example: "Our shoes are not only stylish but are made entirely from recycled materials, ensuring that every step you take leaves a lighter footprint on our planet."

Reasons to Believe (RTB)

  • Definition: The evidence or proof points that support the brand's claims or PODs.

  • Example: "With a transparent supply chain, every pair of shoes can be traced back to its source, showcasing our commitment. Plus, for every pair sold, we plant a tree, further solidifying our dedication to a greener world."

5. EXECUTION: The tangible actions, strategies, or methods employed to bring the campaign or initiative to life. It encompasses everything from creative concepts to media planning and distribution strategies.

"What specific channels are going to be used?"

Example: "Launching a series of social media ads showcasing real-life testimonials of parents, coupled with an influencer partnership to amplify reach."

6. MEASUREMENT: The process of evaluating and analyzing the results or outcomes of a campaign or initiative against the set objectives. It helps in understanding the effectiveness and ROI of the efforts.

"What are we going to measure to assess objectives?"

Example: "Using web analytics tools to track website traffic, conversion rates, and user engagement metrics post-campaign launch."

Now that you know what's a creative brief. Take a look at this example and ask yourself, Is this the right way to do it? What would you change? Why?

The journey begins with the Creative Brief, a strategic blueprint that lays the foundation, setting the tone, direction, and objectives for a campaign. It's where ideas are born, molded by insights, objectives, and a clear understanding of the target audience. But, the journey doesn't end there. This is when the Creative Review comes into play.

The creative review is the checkpoint where ideas are put to the test, evaluated against key dimensions to ensure they resonate, differentiate, and deliver.

It's a transition from conceptualization to validation, ensuring that the spark ignited in the brief blazes into a full-fledged, impactful campaign.

In addition to the creative brief, the Kellogg School of Management uses 2 other tools to offer structure and organize feedback. A. The ADPLAN and B. "The 4 Zone Feedback."

A. The ADPLAN Framework

The ADPLAN framework is a systematic approach used to evaluate the effectiveness of advertisements. Developed by the Kellogg School of Management, this framework provides a structured method to assess ads based on six key dimensions. Each dimension serves as a criterion to gauge how well the advertisement performs in that specific area. Here's a breakdown of the ADPLAN framework:

  1. Attention: Does the advertisement successfully capture the viewer's attention? This dimension evaluates the ad's ability to stand out and make the audience take notice.

  2. Distinction: How unique and memorable is the advertisement? Distinction assesses the ad's originality and its ability to differentiate itself from other ads, ensuring it remains memorable to the audience.

  3. Positioning: Does the advertisement effectively convey the brand's positioning and message? This dimension looks at how well the ad communicates the brand's values, benefits, and unique selling propositions (USPs).

  4. Linkage: How well is the brand integrated into the advertisement? Linkage evaluates the strength of the connection between the ad's content and the brand, ensuring that viewers can easily associate the creative elements with the brand itself.

  5. Amplification: Does the advertisement enhance or amplify the viewer's perception of the brand or its message? Amplification gauges the ad's ability to reinforce or elevate the brand's message, making it more impactful and resonant.

  6. Net Equity: What is the overall impact of the advertisement on the brand's equity? This dimension assesses the potential long-term effects of the ad on the brand's reputation, value, and overall equity in the market.

By evaluating advertisements using the ADPLAN framework, marketers and advertisers can gain a comprehensive understanding of an ad's strengths and areas for improvement, ensuring that their campaigns are optimized for maximum effectiveness.


Using this "4 zones of feedback" approach ensures that feedback is comprehensive, covering both strengths and areas of improvement. It promotes constructive dialogue and collaborative problem-solving, making the feedback process more effective and less confrontational. The 4 Zone Feedback are:

1. Things I Love: This is the positive feedback zone. It highlights the aspects of the work or project that the reviewer genuinely appreciates and feels are executed well. Recognizing and affirming these elements can boost morale and provide clarity on what needs to be retained or replicated in future iterations.

  • Feedback: "The navigation menu is intuitive and user-friendly. I was able to find all the main sections of the website within seconds. Great job on that!"

2. Things I Like: This zone identifies elements that are good but might not be as impactful as the ones in the "Things I Love" category. It's an acknowledgment of effort and potential areas of strength, but these elements might need a bit more refinement or aren't the standout features.

  • Feedback: "The color palette is cohesive and aligns with our brand identity. However, I feel the secondary color might need a bit more contrast to stand out."

3. Questions: Instead of directly pointing out potential issues, framing feedback in the form of questions encourages a dialogue. It allows the creator to think critically about their choices and explain their rationale. For example, instead of saying, "I don't think this color works," one might ask, "What was the thought process behind choosing this particular color?"

  • Feedback: "I noticed that the loading time for the image gallery is slightly longer than other sections. Was there a specific reason for using high-resolution images there?"

4. Red Flags: These are areas of concern that need immediate attention. Red flags highlight elements that might be problematic, off-brand, or could lead to bigger issues down the line. Addressing these concerns is crucial for the success of the project.

  • Feedback: "The mobile version of the website seems to have formatting issues. The text overlaps in some sections, making it unreadable. This needs immediate attention."

That's a wrap! please add these tools to your arsenal and see if you can discover new things about your brand. It helped me a lot and I believe it can also help you as well. See you next time.

Source: Kelloggs on Marketing

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