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The Goldilocks Approach to Animation Creative Briefs: How to Get Yours Just Right

There’s no perfect way to develop an effective creative brief for your animation project. But countless resources full of best practices exist when you search Google for “How to write a creative brief.” MOWE has covered that topic before as well. 

Still, something needs to be added to the conversation on crafting quality creative briefs. And that’s understanding how not to write a creative brief and what doesn’t characterize a good guiding document. When writing a brief, understanding what to avoid is incredibly valuable, acting as a guardrail to ensure our briefs are optimized for clarity and effectiveness.

Let’s take a look at why creative briefs matter to animation project success, as well as how to strike the right balance of information in your brand’s brief. À la Goldilocks, you can get your creative brief — and animation — just right

Effective Creative Briefs Lead to Impactful Animations

A quality creative brief lies at the core of every successful project, serving as the guiding light to achieve the client’s goals while optimizing resource allocation. A well-crafted brief ensures that everyone is on the same page by streamlining the creative process and providing clear project requirements. When executed effectively, some of its outcomes are:

  • Time-saving: Thorough planning leads to smoother development. 
  • Optimized resources — including money: When everything goes according to your well-thought-out plan, there are fewer chances of wasting resources.
  • Reduced revisions: A well-written creative brief allows the creatives to make informed decisions, leading to fewer revisions and corrections.
  • More attainable goals and ROI: Understanding which metrics you’ll be tracking upfront allow us to tailor better the message and the visual delivery of that message to your audience.
  • More attainable goals and ROI:  Knowing the goals of your project allows us to consider the design system that will be created for the video and suggest different ways for you to expand on it and get a more significant return on your investment

Awesome benefits, right? Keep reading so you can realize these benefits with a balanced creative brief. 

What NOT to Do as You Craft a Creative Brief for Your Animation 

Yin and yang-ing your creative brief is about knowing what information will assist your animation partner in producing your video versus what information risks killing its ideation and originality. 

You have to keep your brief concise — and yet not overly vague. Here’s what we mean:

Don’t Overdo Your Creative Brief

Attaining balance comes from avoiding extremes. The first extreme you want to avoid when preparing your creative brief is providing too much information, muddying the message of what you need from your animation, and overwhelming your creative team. 

To that end, the first guideline you should follow is keeping your creative brief, well, brief

Sure, you can tack on additional documents and references, but the crux of your brief should not fill more than a couple of pages. That includes details like the audience segment you’re targeting, the metrics you expect to track, and the technical requirements of the deliverables. We’ll get deeper into that later.

A good metaphor is to think of your creative brief like a resume. The gold standard for resume length is a single page, but a few pages are warranted if the person is especially experienced. The more complex the challenge, the longer your creative brief might need to be. Just ensure any additional information is valuable and relevant to the project.

Your brief also shouldn’t be too technical. If you want your creative team to be able to translate your product’s technicalities to your audience, you must facilitate their understanding of the subject by providing straightforward information. Quoting Albert Einstein, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”

Creative briefs can help you reach your goals, but that’s only true if you set one main goal for your project. Understandably, you may want to achieve multiple goals with a single project. Everyone wants a good ROI. But the more objectives you set, the less likely you’ll achieve them. You must be clear-eyed and realistic about your goal, or your animation will be aimless. 

If you fill in all the blanks, you leave no room for creative exploration, thereby capping your project’s possibilities. Don’t get too attached to your creative vision before bringing your creative partner into the process. Expertise and collaboration are the key ingredients for creativity to shine. Every project is full of opportunities and you need a motivated partner to unveil those for you – and with you. If you’re hiring a team of experts in animation, provide them with your expertise about the business, product, and industry. These will make them excited, motivated, and interested in doing their best work for you.

Don’t Underdo It

We told you, we’re channeling Goldilocks here. So, in addition to not overdoing your creative brief, you mustn’t underdo it, either. 

Don’t give your creative team a blank canvas. In the same way that too much information is stifling, insufficient information is overwhelming. Project constraints (like budget and length) are important and necessary to anchor your animation in a purposeful strategy. Constraints equal guardrails. And with guardrails in place, your creative team can explore the edges of the sandbox without getting carried away.  

An essential aspect of your creative brief is properly honing in on your target audience. The most common way to underdo your audience description is to aim at reaching everyone with a single animation. People are not a monolith, so don’t describe your audience as “all men 18 and over.” It’s unrealistic to think the same message will resonate with teenagers and senior citizens. 

Make sure your creative brief details a specific, measurable audience segment. Something like “men between 30 and 50 that are health-conscious and tech-savvy” should do the trick. Still, we always recommend developing a more detailed persona of your audience that can be attached to the main creative brief. This in-depth information isn’t necessarily shared with the entire team, but it’s extremely important for the directors and the copywriter.

Not underdoing your creative brief also means not leaving relevant information out. We get that there might be certain info you don’t want everyone to see, but you have to be transparent if you want a successful end product. It’s like going to a doctor and not sharing the cause of a problem or some of your symptoms. A detailed picture of your product and business allows us to tailor an animation that meets your unique business needs, so do your best to be an open book.  

How we build our briefs

Not too detailed or vague — that’s the key to the perfect creative brief to jumpstart your animation project. For our studio’s strategic needs, some of the essential items of our briefs are:

  • The project’s goals (one needs to be established as the primary goal, in case there are a few) 
  • Audience Segment*
  • Key Message
  • Tone & Style*
  • Project’s Specifications (budget, timeline, video’s duration, deliverables, aspect ratios, formats, and any other relevant technical specification)
  • Distribution Channels
  • Success Metrics*
  • Competitors*
  • Legal or Compliance Requirements*

The items highlighted with a “*” above might include additional in-depth content, like audience personas, brand guidelines, competitor analysis, moodboards and visual references, marketing plans, etc. Those additional documents are extremely valuable, and we always consider them as attachments to the main brief, but not as one of the pages of the brief.

We keep them separate because we consider it essential for the team to have a quick, simple, and summarized document for immediate consultation. The primary reason for keeping it concise is to enable the creative team to refer to it during production, helping their decision-making and the discussions throughout the project’s development. And if they need more detailed information, they know where to find it.

At our studio, we understand that creative briefs enable efficient collaboration and empower the team to bring their vision to life while keeping track of our client’s goals. By focusing on those essential elements, we ensure a streamlined, purpose-driven approach that results in captivating and impactful animations for our clients.

Raff Marques
Raff Marques
Co-founder & Creative Director at MOWE Studio