Inspire your team with a creative brief made in Milanote

Follow this step-by-step guide to learn the modern process of writing a creative brief in Milanote, a free tool used by top creatives.

How to write a creative brief in 9 easy steps

We've all been there—a budget gets overblown, timelines are delayed, the scope changes mid-project. Everyone's on a different page. These are signs that the foundations weren’t set, which is where the creative brief comes in.

A strong creative brief outlines the problem to solve and the path to get there. It gives your team the ingredients to do their most creative work without prescribing the solution. As iconic architect David Rockwell says "A great brief is an inspiring thought starter".

In this guide, you'll learn the modern approach to creative briefs using Milanote. Remember, the process of writing a brief is non-linear, so it's OK to move back and forth between the steps as you go.

1. Define the background of the project

The first thing to define is why the project is happening. Spend time with your client, have them lead you through the vision in their own words and ask questions like... What problem is this project trying to solve? What lead up to it? What will change if this project is successful?

John C. Jay of Wieden+Kennedy described the importance of understanding the problem perfectly when he said "The clearer the problem is defined, the better the work will be."

How to do this in Milanote
  1. Create a new board for your creative brief.

    Create a new board

    Drag a board out from the toolbar. Give it a name, then double click to open it.

  2. Choose the built-in Creative Brief template.

    Choose a template 

    Each new board gives you the options to start with a beautiful template. Find the Creative Brief template, then choose "Use this template".

2. Collect existing material

Once you have a clearer idea of why the project is happening, it’s time to gather any additional or background information so you can start refining the brief. This might include existing research and stats, background documents, brand images or videos—everything your team will need when starting the project.

How to do this in Milanote
  1. Upload the relevant project files to your board.

    Upload a file or document  

    Click the "Upload file" button or just drag a file onto your board. You can add images, logos, documents, videos, audio and much more.

3. Write clear goals and deliverables

How will you know if the project is a success? Having a clear, realistic and measurable goal will help keep your team on the same page. For example, are you trying to increase traffic to your website by 20%, or double the number of sales enquiries in 1 year? Alongside this, list any specific deliverables that will help you achieve your goal.

How to do this in Milanote
  1. Add a note to describe the goal of the project.

    Drag a note card onto your board

    Start typing then use the formatting tools in the left hand toolbar.

  2. Create a new to-do list for the specific deliverables.

    Drag a to-do list onto your board

    Start typing then press "Enter" to create a new item. Add a title to your to-do list using the left hand toolbar.

Pro tip:

Creativity often responds well to some constraints or limitations. Defining what the project isn't is a great way to provide useful boundaries. David Ogilvy famously said, "Give me the freedom of a tight (creative) brief."

4. Define the target audience

This is where you describe a specific type of audience and detail what’s important to them. It will help you speak their language and inspire them to take action.

Who are they? What problem or pain point do they have? What is their current relationship with the product or service? How will this project affect them? Answering these questions will enable your team to think about the problem from the perspective of your audience.

How to do this in Milanote
  1. Add a note to describe the audience.

    Drag a note card onto your board

    Start typing then use the formatting tools in the left hand toolbar.

  2. Choose a photo to represent your audience from image search.

    Use the built-in image library

    Search over 500,000 beautiful photos powered by Unsplash then drag images straight onto your board.

5. Analyze the competition

How will this project set you apart from your competitors? If you're redesigning your logo, what colors and tone do your competitors use? What do you have to do to stand out from the pack? Mapping out the competitive landscape lets you see opportunities to reach your audience in a unique way.

How to do this in Milanote
  1. Add your competitors logos or photography.

    Upload a file or document  

    Click the "Upload file" button or just drag a file onto your board. You can add images, logos, documents, videos, audio and much more.

6. Include brand references

Add any additional materials that will help your team get to know the brand. Describe the tone of voice, brand values, color, font, logo specs, and other related guidelines. This gives everyone easy access to important assets throughout the project and saves time hunting through emails and folders.

How to do this in Milanote
  1. Add brand files and documents to the board

    Upload a file or document  

    Click the "Upload file" button or just drag a file onto your board. You can add images, logos, documents, videos, audio and much more.

7. Organise & refine

Once you have everything you need, it's time to organize your content into logical topics. The goal here is to present the most important points in an inspiring and concise format. Remember, it's called a brief. In its simplest form, writer and illustrator Maira Kalman says a brief consists of "a deadline and a dream".

How to do this in Milanote
  1. Create a column for each of the main topics in the brief

    Drag a column onto your board

    Name it, then drag any relevant notes or images into your column

Pro tip:

Save time on your next project with a Creative Brief template for advertising, interior design, photography and more.

8. Get feedback

While a creative brief is typically written by one person, the best briefs will be run past stakeholders, clients or team members for feedback before final approval. This is a great chance to ensure that timelines, budgets and objectives are understood and that everyone is on the same page before embarking on the project.

How to do this in Milanote
  1. Invite a team member or client to provide feedback.

    Invite editors to your board

    Open the "Editors" menu from the title bar of your board. Add email addresses of the people you'd like to collaborate with—they'll receive an invitation via email.

  2. Start a comment thread.

    Start a comment thread

    Drag out a comment from the toolbar on the left and place it on your board. Other editors can reply to your comment.

  3. Mention teammates to get their attention.

    Mention teammates to get their attention

    Type '@' in any text field to mention someone who has access to your board. They'll receive a notification and be able to respond to your comment.

9. Share the brief with your team

Once you’ve made any final tweaks, it’s time to share the completed creative brief with the your team, organize a kickoff meeting and start the project.

How to do this in Milanote
  1. Publish and share the brief with your team.

    Add a welcome message to your board.

    Write a welcome message under the "Publish & share" menu. This will display the first time someone views your board.

And you're done!

Now that your brief is complete, you have an inspiring starting point for your next creative project. Remember to revisit your brief at each stage of the project. It's a great way to ensure you're still headed in the right direction!

Start your creative brief

Get started for free with one of Milanote's inspiring creative brief templates.