A Small Business Guide to The Creative Brief for Graphic Design and Working With Advertising Agencies

When you set out to advertise your small business, start with a creative brief for graphic design.

In a conventional advertising firm, the creatives are the writers, artists, and designers who will create the advertisement. The creative brief is the document which gives this creative team their direction. It is written by you and your account manager [link to account managers].

What does a Creative Brief for Graphic Design look like? Here are the common components:

  1. Description of the Organization
  2. Project Summary & Background
  3. Objectives
  4. Target Audience
  5. Deliverables
  6. Competitive Environment
  7. Style Guides (incl. references to address Tone, language, colours, branding)
  8. Timeline
  9. Budget

The creative brief is created from a collaboration between you and your ad agency account manager. The graphic design creative team will review the brief prior to formalizing it to ensure it is feasible.

What does the Creative Brief for Graphic Design do?

It provides factual information to graphic designers without any fluff or marketing language. It’s not a standardized document across the industry, but the intent and its purpose are standard.

It also provides the benefit of allowing the creatives to focus on crafting the proper message with enough flexibility to do what they do best. It does NOT dictate the message, only the objective and the control measure (I.E. tone of voice, usage of logo, style guide, etc.)


  1. Client consultation between you as your companies’ marketing rep and our advertising agency account manager. Result: Client Request
  2. Your “Client Request” is translated into a “Creative Brief” by our ad account manager for your approval. The ad account manager gets confirmation from the creative team that the request is feasible before you sign it off. Result: Approved Creative Brief
  3. We do market research and draft concepts. These are often called the “sketches” or mockups. Our ad account manager first reviews these mockups and judges them. The only judgement made is if the mockup meets the creative brief or not. If it does, it is forwarded to your marketing rep for approval. If it is not approved, the creative brief will need to be reviewed and amended then the project will cycle through the sketching process again. Result: Approved Mockup of Graphic Design
  4. Once a sketch is approved, the product is developed with a full graphic design. If it’s a visual product this means graphic design.
  5. Prior to completion of the product, it will be checked against standards. This includes file formatting, colour matching, and industry-specific requirements.  Your company then signs off on the final product and it is put into rotation. Result: Running Ad Campaign
  6. While your advertisements run, analysts will actively look for early indications of performance or drawbacks and advise your account manager. Your account manager will inform you of unforeseen challenges and opportunities. Result: Continuous Improvement
Sample Creative Brief
Grays Cookies Creative Brief Example

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