Revive your content with these 5 creative brief examples

Revive your content with these 5 creative brief examples

7 minute read

Revive your content with these 5 creative brief examples

7 minute read

Revive your content with these 5 creative brief examples

Afoma Umesi

GatherContent Contributor, Writer
Imagine you wanted to build your dream house, but only you knew what it would look like — and you had no construction knowledge. What if architectural plans and blueprints didn’t exist? How in the world would you explain your idea to a builder?

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That’s exactly how it feels to work without a creative brief. You don’t want to do that.

In this article, we’ll show you the essential elements of a content brief and walk you through our step-by-step guide for writing a content brief. Finally, we’ll share several content and creative brief examples to get your creative juices flowing.

What is a content brief?

The purpose of the content brief is to ensure that everyone involved in content creation knows what to do and is on the same page.

Like a blueprint, a content brief shows your team members or collaborators your objectives, the reason behind those goals, and how to achieve your vision.

A solid content brief saves you time spent on multiple revisions, keeps your content consistent, and helps your team feel capable as their work hits all the right notes.

Creative Brief vs. Content Brief: What’s the difference?

Creative briefs and content briefs are similar but differ primarily in scope.

A creative brief contains instructions vital to producing a wide range of creative deliverables. Creative briefs work for any creative project — not just written content.

These briefs generally include a different set of elements from the content brief. These include company background information, campaign goals, key messaging, and brand statement(s).

Creative briefs are commonly used by creative teams such as those in an advertising agency. However, creative briefs also include the following:

  • Web or graphic design brief
  • Content brief
  • Strategy brief
  • Copywriting brief
  • Marketing campaign brief,
  • Social media campaign brief, etc.

On the other hand, a content brief is one kind of creative brief.

Content briefs help writers create content that matches marketing goals, and they include different elements than creative briefs. (We dig into these below.)

Typically, these briefs are geared toward helping writers produce SEO-friendly content while covering the full scope of the topic.

12 Essential Elements of an Effective Content Brief

So you’re sold on the idea of a content brief. But, what should you include in your content brief? It all depends on the goal of your content.

Granted, there are a few must-have elements of any content brief, but additions may vary depending on what you need your content to achieve. Here are some crucial elements of a content brief:

  1. Keywords: Include primary and secondary keywords.
  2. Content type: Is it a how-to article, guide, or journalistic-style piece?
  3. Content objective: Highlight specific points the article must cover and what it should do for readers.
  4. Title: Include at least one title suggestion to show the writer from which angles to write.
  5. Suggested outline: This is typically a list of SEO headings (h2) to incorporate into the article.
  6. Target audience: Tell the writer the article’s target demographic and which pain points the content will solve.
  7. Word count: How long should the article be? Ranges often work better than a specific figure.
  8. Main calls-to-action (CTAs): This ensures that your article converts and encourages your readers to take a specific action.
  9. Internal links: These are beneficial for SEO and overall website traffic.
  10. Competitor content: Show the writer what competitors have written on the topic, and highlight how your content should improve on existing options.
  11. Important brand guidelines: Add tips on brand voice, reference citation guidelines, and other relevant requirements.
  12. Additional notes: Include final notes for writers.

How to Write a Content Brief for Producing High-Quality Content

Now it’s time to learn the mechanics of writing the brief. Here’s how to write a content brief, step by step:

Identify your keywords

If SEO is one of your core content distribution channels, you cannot create content without keyword research. You’ll need to include your main (or primary) keyword as well as one or two secondary (alternative) keywords in your brief.

For example, if we’re writing a post about “best project management software,” a secondary keyword could be “best project management tools.”

Your secondary keyword gives the writer another way to refer to the subject of your content. This can help reduce repetitive mentions of the exact phrase (your editor will be grateful) while targeting keyword synonyms on search engines.

Your keyword or keyphrase also influences the suggested post title — which you also need to include in your brief.

What’s the point of your content?

Because your brief is a "map" of sorts for your writer, they need to get a peek into your thought process for the content. Ideally, this is a short sentence or paragraph about the most important points to cover in a piece.

For our post about project management software, this could be as follows:

Share 8-10 top project management software, including free and paid options, for small and medium-sized businesses. Help readers learn how to identify the best pick for them.

The article might include a few other subheadings, but this paragraph shows the writer what matters most to the marketing team.

Good to Know: In fact, our customers estimate that, on average, they save 30% of hours previously spent managing content operations, because they've implemented effective ContentOps using GatherContent.

Who is your target audience?

Writing without audience knowledge is like writing a letter with zero knowledge about its recipient.

It is vital to include information about your audience in your brief, especially if you’re outsourcing your content creation to a freelance writer or content agency.

A few details to note about your ideal audience are:

  • Which industry are htey in?
  • What is their role?
  • How much experience do they have with the subject matter?
  • Which recurring issues do they face?
  • How does your content solve their pain points?

It's also crucial to consider the reader’s position in the marketing funnel. Are they just gathering information (top of the funnel)? Are they more knowledgeable but still weighing their choices (middle of the funnel)? Or, are they searching for content and ready to purchase (bottom of the funnel)?

Your keyword generally helps you identify the search intent of your audience.

Define the scope

With a ton of information available on nearly every topic, defining your scope will save you and your writer wasted time and effort. One easy way to prevent scope creep is to prepare a suggested outline.

While your writer may tweak the outline, based on their independent research and creative judgment, providing an outline shows the writer what you want out of the piece. If you don’t want the burden of creating an outline, you can also ask writers to prepare one for your approval before they begin writing.

Another key to staying within scope? Defining a word count range. Having a suggested range ensures that writers can find a sweet spot instead of stuffing the piece with filler content or going over the word count by nearly a thousand words.

Provide reference articles

Want your writers to hit the proverbial content bullseye? Show them examples of what you’d like to see!

Include links to competitor articles and mention specific ways writers can improve on those articles. The purpose of competitor links isn’t to copy what they’ve done but to provide a better sense of direction for writers who may have very different ideas from your specifications.

Go a step further by leaving a note about what you particularly enjoyed or disliked about a competitor article.

Don’t forget your CTAs

Content is marketing, after all. Don’t be afraid to leave callouts and CTA buttons throughout your article—just make sure your writer makes room for them.

In your brief, mention your main CTA (often the one used at the end of the article) as well as any downloadable resources or specific services you’d like to highlight.

Add internal links

Internal linking refers to linking to your site pages or blog articles within other blog articles or pages on the same site. 51% of SEO pros say that each blog post should have at least 2-3 internal links as part of SEO best practices.

The problem when outsourcing content creation is that new writers may not know all the past articles you’ve published. Save them time and energy by including links to related posts in your content brief. Then, the writer can find ways to weave the links into their piece.

Final notes for writers

Not every little tip will fit neatly into our listed categories, so this part is up to you! Have any additional notes for your writers? Leave them in this section. Your notes could include:

  • Reminders about brand voice
  • Guidelines for source citation and external linking
  • Visual content requirements (e.g., adding images or infographics)
  • Links to additional writing resources, like a style guide or content checklist
  • SEO metadata such as SEO titles, meta description, and categories or tags
Good to Know: The beauty of content briefs is how customizable they are.

Just remember not to overwhelm writers with a bevy of instructions. Your brief should be a 1-2-page document.

5 Content Brief Examples to Copy

Before we leave you to start creating content briefs of your own, we’re gathered several examples from professional content marketing teams to help you get started. Review these five content brief examples for some inspiration:

GatherContent

GatherContent Content Brief Example Template
GatherContent content brief example

GatherContent’s content project brief template is an invaluable resource for your content marketing team if you’re planning a large content project.

💡 Download it here.

The template details every necessary facet from project summary to KPIs and budget.

Need to create a content brief for a specific occasion? Then watch this recorded GatherContent event for valuable tips and guidance.

Omniscient Digital

Omniscient Digital content brief example

Content agency Omniscient Digital uses a comprehensive content brief, including keywords, competitor content, and SEO metadata.

Content Harmony

Content Harmony Content Brief Example Template
Content Harmony content brief example

Content Harmony uses a mix of tabular and text formats for its content briefs. They also include additional details like strategist name, CMS settings, suggested content outline, and internal and external links.

Zapier

Zapier Content Brief Example Template
Zapier content brief example

The Zapier blog has a comprehensive but straightforward content brief template. It includes a 1-sentence description, word count (ballpark figure), and CTA, among other details.

Paypal Creative Brief

Paypal creative brief example
Paypal creative brief example

This Paypal creative brief example showcases the difference between content and creative briefs. As you’ll see, this marketing campaign brief is not for writers. Instead, it focuses on the brand’s marketing strategy, including other elements such as key insights and Paypal’s overall brand statement.

Use Content Briefs to Speed Up Your Content Workflow

The content brief is a map covering the major touchstones, but not necessarily all the attractions. While it is critical for helping your writers hit the main points, it is not the be-all-end-all.

So, don’t forget to leave room for your writers’ creativity, even as you fit in the major elements (e.g., keywords, target audience, word count, etc.).

Looking to optimize your content creation process? If you’re tired of juggling multiple platforms for brief creation, article writing, and reviewing content, it’s time to try out GatherContent.

Good to Know: GatherContent is an all-in-one content platform that allows you to work efficiently while scaling your content production. Ready to improve your content creation workflow? Try GatherContent for free.

That’s exactly how it feels to work without a creative brief. You don’t want to do that.

In this article, we’ll show you the essential elements of a content brief and walk you through our step-by-step guide for writing a content brief. Finally, we’ll share several content and creative brief examples to get your creative juices flowing.

What is a content brief?

The purpose of the content brief is to ensure that everyone involved in content creation knows what to do and is on the same page.

Like a blueprint, a content brief shows your team members or collaborators your objectives, the reason behind those goals, and how to achieve your vision.

A solid content brief saves you time spent on multiple revisions, keeps your content consistent, and helps your team feel capable as their work hits all the right notes.

Creative Brief vs. Content Brief: What’s the difference?

Creative briefs and content briefs are similar but differ primarily in scope.

A creative brief contains instructions vital to producing a wide range of creative deliverables. Creative briefs work for any creative project — not just written content.

These briefs generally include a different set of elements from the content brief. These include company background information, campaign goals, key messaging, and brand statement(s).

Creative briefs are commonly used by creative teams such as those in an advertising agency. However, creative briefs also include the following:

  • Web or graphic design brief
  • Content brief
  • Strategy brief
  • Copywriting brief
  • Marketing campaign brief,
  • Social media campaign brief, etc.

On the other hand, a content brief is one kind of creative brief.

Content briefs help writers create content that matches marketing goals, and they include different elements than creative briefs. (We dig into these below.)

Typically, these briefs are geared toward helping writers produce SEO-friendly content while covering the full scope of the topic.

12 Essential Elements of an Effective Content Brief

So you’re sold on the idea of a content brief. But, what should you include in your content brief? It all depends on the goal of your content.

Granted, there are a few must-have elements of any content brief, but additions may vary depending on what you need your content to achieve. Here are some crucial elements of a content brief:

  1. Keywords: Include primary and secondary keywords.
  2. Content type: Is it a how-to article, guide, or journalistic-style piece?
  3. Content objective: Highlight specific points the article must cover and what it should do for readers.
  4. Title: Include at least one title suggestion to show the writer from which angles to write.
  5. Suggested outline: This is typically a list of SEO headings (h2) to incorporate into the article.
  6. Target audience: Tell the writer the article’s target demographic and which pain points the content will solve.
  7. Word count: How long should the article be? Ranges often work better than a specific figure.
  8. Main calls-to-action (CTAs): This ensures that your article converts and encourages your readers to take a specific action.
  9. Internal links: These are beneficial for SEO and overall website traffic.
  10. Competitor content: Show the writer what competitors have written on the topic, and highlight how your content should improve on existing options.
  11. Important brand guidelines: Add tips on brand voice, reference citation guidelines, and other relevant requirements.
  12. Additional notes: Include final notes for writers.

How to Write a Content Brief for Producing High-Quality Content

Now it’s time to learn the mechanics of writing the brief. Here’s how to write a content brief, step by step:

Identify your keywords

If SEO is one of your core content distribution channels, you cannot create content without keyword research. You’ll need to include your main (or primary) keyword as well as one or two secondary (alternative) keywords in your brief.

For example, if we’re writing a post about “best project management software,” a secondary keyword could be “best project management tools.”

Your secondary keyword gives the writer another way to refer to the subject of your content. This can help reduce repetitive mentions of the exact phrase (your editor will be grateful) while targeting keyword synonyms on search engines.

Your keyword or keyphrase also influences the suggested post title — which you also need to include in your brief.

What’s the point of your content?

Because your brief is a "map" of sorts for your writer, they need to get a peek into your thought process for the content. Ideally, this is a short sentence or paragraph about the most important points to cover in a piece.

For our post about project management software, this could be as follows:

Share 8-10 top project management software, including free and paid options, for small and medium-sized businesses. Help readers learn how to identify the best pick for them.

The article might include a few other subheadings, but this paragraph shows the writer what matters most to the marketing team.

Good to Know: In fact, our customers estimate that, on average, they save 30% of hours previously spent managing content operations, because they've implemented effective ContentOps using GatherContent.

Who is your target audience?

Writing without audience knowledge is like writing a letter with zero knowledge about its recipient.

It is vital to include information about your audience in your brief, especially if you’re outsourcing your content creation to a freelance writer or content agency.

A few details to note about your ideal audience are:

  • Which industry are htey in?
  • What is their role?
  • How much experience do they have with the subject matter?
  • Which recurring issues do they face?
  • How does your content solve their pain points?

It's also crucial to consider the reader’s position in the marketing funnel. Are they just gathering information (top of the funnel)? Are they more knowledgeable but still weighing their choices (middle of the funnel)? Or, are they searching for content and ready to purchase (bottom of the funnel)?

Your keyword generally helps you identify the search intent of your audience.

Define the scope

With a ton of information available on nearly every topic, defining your scope will save you and your writer wasted time and effort. One easy way to prevent scope creep is to prepare a suggested outline.

While your writer may tweak the outline, based on their independent research and creative judgment, providing an outline shows the writer what you want out of the piece. If you don’t want the burden of creating an outline, you can also ask writers to prepare one for your approval before they begin writing.

Another key to staying within scope? Defining a word count range. Having a suggested range ensures that writers can find a sweet spot instead of stuffing the piece with filler content or going over the word count by nearly a thousand words.

Provide reference articles

Want your writers to hit the proverbial content bullseye? Show them examples of what you’d like to see!

Include links to competitor articles and mention specific ways writers can improve on those articles. The purpose of competitor links isn’t to copy what they’ve done but to provide a better sense of direction for writers who may have very different ideas from your specifications.

Go a step further by leaving a note about what you particularly enjoyed or disliked about a competitor article.

Don’t forget your CTAs

Content is marketing, after all. Don’t be afraid to leave callouts and CTA buttons throughout your article—just make sure your writer makes room for them.

In your brief, mention your main CTA (often the one used at the end of the article) as well as any downloadable resources or specific services you’d like to highlight.

Add internal links

Internal linking refers to linking to your site pages or blog articles within other blog articles or pages on the same site. 51% of SEO pros say that each blog post should have at least 2-3 internal links as part of SEO best practices.

The problem when outsourcing content creation is that new writers may not know all the past articles you’ve published. Save them time and energy by including links to related posts in your content brief. Then, the writer can find ways to weave the links into their piece.

Final notes for writers

Not every little tip will fit neatly into our listed categories, so this part is up to you! Have any additional notes for your writers? Leave them in this section. Your notes could include:

  • Reminders about brand voice
  • Guidelines for source citation and external linking
  • Visual content requirements (e.g., adding images or infographics)
  • Links to additional writing resources, like a style guide or content checklist
  • SEO metadata such as SEO titles, meta description, and categories or tags
Good to Know: The beauty of content briefs is how customizable they are.

Just remember not to overwhelm writers with a bevy of instructions. Your brief should be a 1-2-page document.

5 Content Brief Examples to Copy

Before we leave you to start creating content briefs of your own, we’re gathered several examples from professional content marketing teams to help you get started. Review these five content brief examples for some inspiration:

GatherContent

GatherContent Content Brief Example Template
GatherContent content brief example

GatherContent’s content project brief template is an invaluable resource for your content marketing team if you’re planning a large content project.

💡 Download it here.

The template details every necessary facet from project summary to KPIs and budget.

Need to create a content brief for a specific occasion? Then watch this recorded GatherContent event for valuable tips and guidance.

Omniscient Digital

Omniscient Digital content brief example

Content agency Omniscient Digital uses a comprehensive content brief, including keywords, competitor content, and SEO metadata.

Content Harmony

Content Harmony Content Brief Example Template
Content Harmony content brief example

Content Harmony uses a mix of tabular and text formats for its content briefs. They also include additional details like strategist name, CMS settings, suggested content outline, and internal and external links.

Zapier

Zapier Content Brief Example Template
Zapier content brief example

The Zapier blog has a comprehensive but straightforward content brief template. It includes a 1-sentence description, word count (ballpark figure), and CTA, among other details.

Paypal Creative Brief

Paypal creative brief example
Paypal creative brief example

This Paypal creative brief example showcases the difference between content and creative briefs. As you’ll see, this marketing campaign brief is not for writers. Instead, it focuses on the brand’s marketing strategy, including other elements such as key insights and Paypal’s overall brand statement.

Use Content Briefs to Speed Up Your Content Workflow

The content brief is a map covering the major touchstones, but not necessarily all the attractions. While it is critical for helping your writers hit the main points, it is not the be-all-end-all.

So, don’t forget to leave room for your writers’ creativity, even as you fit in the major elements (e.g., keywords, target audience, word count, etc.).

Looking to optimize your content creation process? If you’re tired of juggling multiple platforms for brief creation, article writing, and reviewing content, it’s time to try out GatherContent.

Good to Know: GatherContent is an all-in-one content platform that allows you to work efficiently while scaling your content production. Ready to improve your content creation workflow? Try GatherContent for free.

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