So you’ve landed a new contract for a creative project after drafting a winning scope of work template - congratulations! Whether you’re designing a logo, a website, a series of social media graphics or even a video, the first thing you have to do is understand what your new client needs.
Figuring out where to start on a new creative project can be daunting. Whether it’s your first or 100th project, you will always have new questions about what your client expects. A creative brief is a great way to set those expectations in a clear, mutually-agreed-upon way -- but what is a creative brief, exactly, and what is the best approach to writing one?
The official definition of a creative brief, according to the Business Dictionary, is:
“A document produced by a requesting party to be used by professionals operating within an inventive field to produce various useful deliverables.”
Let’s break that down a little bit in a less technical way. What is a creative brief, and when might you need one?
Think about your creative brief as a map for your creative project. It should outline all of the information you need to get from point A (the client’s briefing) to point B (the delivery of the project).
A creative brief may be provided to you in advance of a creative project. This is particularly true if you’re working as a contractor for a large design agency, or if your client has worked with freelance designers before and is familiar with the process. However, sometimes you’ll also want (and need) to prepare a creative brief yourself.
Don’t be fooled by the name “creative”: there are no creative deliverables in your creative brief. Instead, the brief covers everything your client wants you to communicate, without specifically outlining what your deliverables will look like.
Your creative brief should be sent to the client after you’ve already signed your freelance contract (use Bonsai's online signature maker to sign documents electronically), to ensure you’re not investing too much time and effort in a project that might not actually be confirmed.
Once you understand how to write an inspired creative brief, you’ll never look back. Creative briefs offer the perfect solution to delivering a project both you and your client will be happy with. Here are just some of the benefits of writing a creative brief:
Consider making writing a creative brief part of your regular creative process. Be sure to include the estimated time costs for creating the brief in your freelance proposals.
Now that you know what it is, it’s time to figure out how to write a creative brief. The process will vary depending on the nature and scope of the creative project, but here are some general guidelines to follow.
Before you write your creative brief, you’ll need to get some extra information from your client, for example under the form of a logo design questionnaire. You can, of course, refer back to the job posting -- but chances are you’re going to have to ask some additional questions.
There’s a lot of crossover between the questions you ask when writing a creative brief as for when you’re preparing a branding questionnaire. In general, though, here are some questions to ask:
On the other hand, there are certain questions that shouldn’t be included when writing a creative brief. Mainly, you don’t want to encourage the client to provide too much direction on the creative side of things. Remember that you’re the expert in this area, not them, and if they provide too much guidance (for example, on what colors, fonts or images they like), it may stunt your own creativity.
It doesn’t hurt to ask for a style guide or brand bible to make sure that what you’re coming up with is going to reflect the rest of the client’s branding; however, it’s still important to be creative and inspired. After all, that’s what the client is paying you for!
Now is also not the time to talk about things like budget or deliverables. This should have been decided on when you finalized your freelance proposal.
Now that you’ve asked all the most important questions, you need to understand how to write a creative brief you can send over to your client for approval before proceeding with your project.
A survey of clients showed that 53% of C-level executives found most creative briefs to be lacking in focus, while 27% found them to be incomplete and inconsistent. Don’t be one of these statistics. Instead, make sure that you take the information your client gives you and narrow it down in a succinct, concrete and clear way.
Don’t use ambiguous or flowery language - instead, try to use the same words your client did in their answers - and don’t make things too complicated. This will get easier in time as you perfect your process.
When asking “what is a creative brief?”, one of the most important answers is: concise. Even though it needs to be detailed enough to cover all your bases, a creative brief should be simple and short. General practice is that a creative brief is one to two pages.
Keep this in mind when preparing your questions. You’ll want to ask all the necessary questions to get the information you need, but don’t be repetitive or ask for too much detail. Offer just enough space for your client to answer the question succinctly and nothing else -- you don’t want them to ramble on and on.
At Bonsai, we believe freelancers should do everything they can to make their processes easier. That’s why we’ve created tools that make it easy for you to create freelance invoices, contracts, and proposals with professional-looking templates.
You can apply these same principles when writing a creative brief. Especially if you’re going to be using creative briefs as part of your process down the road, consider creating a template that you can duplicate for your projects. Just make sure that you go through your template each time and change out sections or details depending on the project at hand.
The sections you include in your creative brief will depend on the scope of your project; however, here are five sections you should consider including each time.
This section will cover who your client is, what their story is (i.e. a brief company history), what makes them unique from their competitors, and what their goals and objectives are. Essentially everything you need to know about the company in order to do the job properly.
This section will cover your client’s competitors, the industry and market they’re operating in, how long they’ve been in that market, and any external factors that are influencing that market right now. Consider doing a SWOT analysis to get the full pictures.
This section will cover what it is the creative project is responsible for advertising or promoting. Whenever relevant, that might also include the product or service’s price, where it’s going to be promoted (for example, on billboards or on social media), what stage of the product life cycle it’s in, and the benefits it offers its users.
This section will cover the audience that’s going to be seeing your creative deliverables, or who you’re going to be communicating to. Be sure to ask questions about their demographic and psychographic details, and consider including a brief customer persona if applicable. You’ll also want to ask about what they already think of the brand as well as their frustrations, emotions, and motivations.
Finally, this key section will outline what you are expected to deliver and the timeline for the project. You can also include information on the goals associated with those deliverables (i.e. why the client wants them), how they’re going to be used, and how they’re going to be evaluated for success.
Understanding what is a creative brief and how to write one is a great first step in delivering a fantastic creative project. It helps you make sure that both you and your client are on the same page when it comes to what you’re going to create for them, and gives you a reference document that you can refer back to whenever you need clarity or inspiration.
When it comes to sharing the creative brief with your client and communicating with them in a professional way, consider using Bonsai’s suite of freelancer tools. You can try it for free today - just click here to start your trial.
A verbal contract (formally called an oral contract) refers to an agreement between two parties that's made —you guessed it— verbally.
Formal contracts, like those between an employee and an employer, are typically written down. However, some professional transactions take place based on verbally agreed terms.
Freelancers are a good example of this. Often, freelancers will take on projects having agreed on the terms and payment via the phone, or an email. Unfortunately, sometimes clients don't pull through on their agreements, and hardworking freelancers can find themselves out of pocket and wondering whether a legal battle is worth all the hassle.
The main differences between written and oral contracts are that the former is signed and documented, whereas the latter is solely attributed to verbal communication.
Verbal contracts are a bit of a gray area for most people unfamiliar with contract law —which is most of us, right?— due to the fact that there's no physical evidence to support the claims made by the implemented parties.
For any contract (written or verbal) to be binding, there are four major elements which need to be in place. The crucial elements of a contract are as follows:
Therefore, an oral agreement has legal validity if all of these elements are present. However, verbal contracts can be difficult to enforce in a court of law. In the next section, we take a look at how oral agreements hold up in court.
Most business professionals are wary of entering into contracts orally because they can difficult to enforce in the face of the law.
If an oral contract is brought in front of a court of law, there is increased risk of one party (or both!) lying about the initial terms of the agreement. This is problematic for the court, as there's no unbiased way to conclude the case; often, this will result in the case being disregarded. Moreover, it can be difficult to outline contract defects if it's not in writing.
That being said, there are plenty of situations where enforceable contracts do not need to be written or spoken, they're simply implied. For instance, when you buy milk from a store, you give something in exchange for something else and enter into an implied contract, in this case - money is exchanged for goods.
There are some types of contracts which must be in writing.
The Statute of Frauds is a legal statute which states that certain kinds of contracts must be executed in writing and signed by the parties involved. The Statute of Frauds has been adopted in almost all U.S states, and requires a written contract for the following purposes:
Typically, a court of law won't enforce an oral agreement in any of these circumstances under the statute. Instead, a written document is required to make the contract enforceable.
Contract law is generally doesn't favor contracts agreed upon verbally. A verbal agreement is difficult to prove, and can be used by those intent on committing fraud. For that reason, it's always best to put any agreements in writing and ensure all parties have fully understood and consented to signing.
Verbal agreements can be proven with actions in the absence of physical documentation. Any oral promise to provide the sale of goods or perform a service that you agreed to counts as a valid contract. So, when facing a court of law, what evidence can you provide to enforce a verbal agreement?
Unfortunately, without solid proof, it may be difficult to convince a court of the legality of an oral contract. Without witnesses to testify to the oral agreement taking place or other forms of evidence, oral contracts won't stand up in court. Instead, it becomes a matter of "he-said-she-said" - which legal professionals definitely don't have time for!
If you were to enter into a verbal contract, it's recommended to follow up with an email or a letter confirming the offer, the terms of the agreement , and payment conditions. The more you can document the elements of a contract, the better your chances of legally enforcing a oral contract.
Another option is to make a recording of the conversation where the agreement is verbalized. This can be used to support your claims in the absence of a written agreement. However, it's always best to gain the permission of the other involved parties before hitting record.
Fundamentally, most verbal agreements are legally valid as long as they meet all the requirements for a contract. However, if you were to go to court over one party not fulfilling the terms of the contract, proving that the interaction took place can be extremely taxing.
So, ultimately, the question is: written or verbal agreements?
Any good lawyer, contract law firm, or legal professional would advise you to make sure you formalize any professional agreement with a written agreement. Written contracts provide a secure testament to the conditions that were agreed and signed by the two parties involved. If it comes to it, a physical contract is much easier to eviden in legal circumstances.
Freelancers, in particular, should be aware of the extra security that digital contracts may provide. Many people choose to stick to executing contracts verbally because they're not sure how to write a contract, or they think writing out the contract terms is too complicated or requires expensive legal advice. However, this is no longer the case.
Today, we have a world of resources available at our fingertips. The internet is a treasure trove of invaluable information, platforms, and software that simplifies our lives. Creating, signing, and sending contracts has never been easier. What's more, you don't have to rely on a hiring a lawyer to explain all that legal jargon anymore.
There are plenty of tools available online for freelancers to use for guidance when drafting digital contracts. Tools like Bonsai provide a range of customizable, vetted contract templates for all kinds of freelance professionals. No matter what industry you're operating in, Bonsai has a professional template to offer.
A written contract makes the agreement much easier to prove the terms of the agreement in case something were to go awry. The two parties involved can rest assured that they're legal rights are protected, and the terms of the contract are sufficiently documented. Plus, it provides both parties with peace of mind to focus on the tasks at hand.
Bonsai's product suite for freelancers allows users to make contracts from scratch, or using professional templates, and sign them using an online signature maker.
With Bonsai, you can streamline and automate all of the boring back-office tasks that come with being a freelancer. From creating proposals that clients can't say no to, to sealing the deal with a professional contract - Bonsai will revolutionize the way you do business as a freelancer.
Why not secure your business today and sign up for a free trial?