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5 Questions Animators Can Ask to Draft Great Creative Briefs

ben marvazi 2020

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A creative brief is comparable to a game plan. Commonly developed in the planning stage, a creative brief often works as a benchmark to be referred to by animators and their clients.

Creative briefs are usually one to two pages long and contain guidelines and essential details that will help steer animators in the right direction, leading to efficient work.

Animators can use creative briefs to get back on track if any uncertainties or questions arise in the project's duration. It allows for consistency and provides structure.

Creative briefs come in handy when presenting them to a client to align visions and plans or as a tool for freelance animators to prepare for an upcoming task with a project partner.

This blog post will cover why creative briefs are essential in the animation industry, key elements that every creative brief should have, some tips on drafting one, and questions animators can ask to write a kickass creative brief!

The Importance of a Creative Brief in Animation

a man saying "that's the plan, that's our plan" as a creative brief is the plan for an animation project

GIF by Late Night with Seth Meyers via Giphy

According to Hubspot, a creative brief is a standard document that summarizes a project's mission, objectives, challenges, demographics, messaging and is based on information collected from prior discussions with a client. 

Creative briefs shouldn't be confused with animation project proposals. Creative briefs usually require collaboration between the client and a freelance animator, while project proposals are a one-person job. 

Project proposals often do not include design elements for an upcoming task and more or less describe the nature of the job, the total cost, and what the animator expects from the client regarding the sending of assets and deadlines. 

The goal of a creative brief is to achieve stakeholder alignment before an animation project starts and is a guide to managing expectations. For animators, creative briefs are crucial because they serve as reference points or blueprints to create each element of an animation project.

In general, a well-written creative brief sets the course of a project because it allows everyone involved, from the client to the animator, to agree on a single idea and the steps to achieve it.

Elements of an Animation Creative Brief

an animator taking down notes on the elements of a creative brief so she can make her own

GIF by Lifetime via Giphy

Creative briefs have no universal format, and the elements of each will ultimately depend on the freelance animator or animation company. However, creative briefs do not differ that much, with most outlines containing critical details of an animation project.

Crafting an outline and asking the right questions will also help animators organize their thoughts on an upcoming project. Which, in turn, will make the process of actually preparing a creative brief simpler. 

An excellent animation creative brief will consist of the following: 

1) Name of the Animation Project

Everything of importance needs a name. A great title is similar to writing a novel's synopsis, as it should encapsulate the animation project's objectives and catch your client's attention. Try to have fun when thinking of a project name and let the creativity flow! 

2) Animation Client’s Background

an animator telling their clients "I've done my homework" regarding the animation brief

GIF by CBC via Giphy

When making an animation creative brief, including some insight into the client's background. It allows you to learn more about them while also ensuring clients that you have done enough research to create something that fits their brand. 

3) Scope and Objectives of the Animation Project

Arguably the most crucial part of the creative brief, this section is where animators will establish timelines, set deadlines, and list the purpose of the animation project. When crafting this part, channel your inner goal setter!

4) Target Audience 

This section is where you will briefly describe the target market. Include the audience's behaviors, demographics, and geographics. Finding your animation niche, which refers to an animation service or activity you excel in, can help you when illustrating the target market.

If you have yet to figure out what your animation niche is, there are plenty of types to explore, such as sports animation niches. Here's an example of how a sample creative brief for PayPal defined their target audience: 

a sample animation brief

5) Market Competitors

This part of the animation creative brief is where you will define the competitive landscape. List down similar services your animation client and their competitors offer while noting their competition's past mistakes.

This section will also help animators pioneer new concepts for their animation projects! 

6) Key Message

an animator who has something to say has a key message for the creative brief

GIF by Schitt's Creek via Giphy

When drafting this, animators should try putting themselves in the target audience's shoes. For this part, attempt completing the sentence, "we are doing this so that ___."

The blank is the key message. If this doesn't work, try thinking of yourself as the main character struggling with something and questing to solve it. 

7) Mandatory Inclusions 

Mandatory inclusions are where you will place the non-negotiables of your animation client, such as their logo, vision statements, and taglines. Like what Nike's slogan says, you better "just do it!" 

8) Call to Action

After the target audience sees your animation, what do you want them to do? A call to action doesn't have to be a physical action but also thought-provoking. Examples of a call to action can be "subscribe to our newsletters" or "download our app now." 

9) Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

an animator sees progress in their work through KPIs

GIF by Hulu via Giphy

For freelance animators, this part of the creative brief will help you measure progress and ensure that no messages get lost in translation as you work on the animation project. KPIs will make you stay on track and allow animators and their clients to know if a project is successful. 

5 Creative Brief Questions Every Animator Should Ask

1) What Problem Does My Animation Client Need Help With? 

an animator identifying the problem of their client

GIF by The Simpsons via Giphy

The success of an animation project depends heavily on how effective communication is between animators and their clients.

So before drafting a creative brief and officially starting on a project, animators should first ask their clients what problem they need help with. Animators must understand the needs of the client and their reasoning behind a project. 

Creative brief questions such as what led to this problem and what changes we should expect if the animation project succeeds will give animators a better understanding of the company's background and help make the situation more apparent.

The more defined the problem is, the easier it will be to draft a creative brief with concrete plans and objectives. 

2) What Message Are We Trying to Get Across With Our Animation Creative Brief?

a host asking "do you understand" as you identify what message you want to get across using your creative brief

GIF by The Late Show With Stephen Colbert via Giphy

After the problem is defined, the next natural step is asking how the client wants to solve this problem and what they expect you, as an animator, to include in the animation project.

As an animator, you want to create something that will convert viewers into potential leads and clients for the company availing of your animation services. 

Think of a concept and match it to the key message your animation client wants to convey. Animators can also ask their clients follow-up questions to better grasp the big picture, such as, "what can we add to make the target market believe in what we are selling?"

3) Who Are We Targeting With Our Creative Brief for Video?

an animator reaping the benefits of creating an effective creative brief

GIF by Paramount Movies via Giphy

So now you know the problem and its solution, what's next? It is time to describe the target audience by asking queries like who they are and the animation project's possible impact on them.

Animators should take the time to review their client's markets and analyze their current relationship with the company. Animators should also look into how the target audience deals with the pain point. Doing so will enable animators to think of the best way to reach the market and encourage them to take action. 

4) Who Are Our Market Competitors?

an animator saying they're competitive as the animation industry has a lot of competition

GIF by Paramount+ via Giphy

Analyzing your client's competitors is one way to ensure that what you are creating for them stands out from other brands that are available on the market.

Christopher Tompkins, a Forbes Councils Member, says that conducting a competitor analysis will enable you to identify and fill crucial gaps in your client's business.

When animation companies have a thorough understanding of their client's market competitors, animators will have the advantage of seeing if the concepts they have for the project are out-of-the-box.

Writing out the competitive landscape will allow animators to recognize opportunities to position their clients ahead and apart from the pack.

For animators unfamiliar with facilitating competitor analyses, think of it as something similar to when you developed a unique selling proposition for your brand. 

5) How Will We Know if Our Animation Has Successfully Communicated the Message?

an animator saying their creative brief worked

GIF by Wolf Entertainment via Giphy

Once all the details are in place about the problem, solution, and target audience, the next thing every animator should do is to establish measures for success, which they can do by setting SMART Goals or jotting down key performance indicators (KPIs). 

SMART is an acronym that stands for "specific," "measurable," "achievable," "realistic," and "timely," while key performance indicators are quantifiable measurements used to gauge performance.

SMART Goals and KPIs complement one another and are simple and effective ways of having everyone on the team zero in on a set of objectives and are tools that animators can use to evaluate their results and growth.

Whether the animation project is a whiteboard sketch, motion infographic, 2D graphic, or mixed media, SMART goals along with KPIs can also help animators monitor their team's progress and keep everyone on the same page.

Tips for Animators Writing a Creative Brief

a host has a tip for animators creating a brief

GIF by Late Night with Seth Meyers via Giphy

Animation creative briefs may seem simple, but condensing so much information about a project into a short and straightforward document that is easy to understand can quickly become overwhelming and complicated. 

Here are some tips and helpful practices for animators to keep in mind when drafting a creative brief:

  • Make it concise but comprehensive.
  • Review brand guidelines to maintain consistency.
  • Be open to feedback from project partners, stakeholders, and team members.

Other than these helpful practices, there are also creative brief templates for animation projects such as video promotion, infographic design, and more available online that freelance animators can use.  

creative brief template for animators

A Great Animation Creative Brief Can Save Time and Resources

Creative briefs are identical to roadmaps. The purpose of a creative brief is to specify approaches, inspire creativity in an animation team, and have everyone involved in the project to be in consensus. 

An excellent and well-thought animation creative brief is a unifying document that can help freelance animators spot inconsistencies and anticipate crises, saving them and their project partners time and resources. 

If you want to further your career in animation, check out our free masterclass, and download a copy of our free marketing handbook.

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