Creative Brief Questions You Should Ask Before Getting to Work

The key to project success is to start on the right foot with your client—asking the right creative brief questions can help you with that. Freelancers who decide to leave the corporate world may find the freedom they are looking for when it comes to working. You have your own time, you are your own boss, however, one thing remains the same, you have a client to answer to.

Now, there are different clients out there. Some are more laid back and will simply ask you to do something and you do it. Others will require formal documents and request a creative brief as if they are working with an advertising agency, even if you are just a one-person freelancer. But don’t worry as a creative brief is actually a useful document for you, too.

What’s a Creative Brief?

Woman writing on clipboard

Alright, first things, first, what is a creative brief anyway? For those who have only encountered this term, a creative brief is a short document that contains important information about a project. This can include everything from a branding guide to the target market of a company, achievable goals to strategies.

This document does not have to be long, it’s best to keep it short and concise. (It’s not as long or detailed as a design brief). Once a creative brief is done, you should have a guide or a certain direction for your project.

What are Creative Brief Questions You Should Ask?

One of the most important things you can do to make a successful brief, which leads to a successful project, is to have your client answer creative brief questions. Because who better know where the project is heading but your clients? However, you have to be careful in the questions you make. Not all clients like answering creative brief questions, so you have to make those count. Below are some of the questions you must include to your clients:

1. How do you want your company to be seen?

You can assume all you want about your client or the company. But the most valuable information about how a company wants to be seen is based on the people within it. Because sometimes, a company’s social media or website is not translated properly. The best way to learn how a company wants to be seen is to simply ask your client.

You might be surprised by the answer. This is especially helpful for companies that hire you because they want to change their image. For example, if you are a social media manager handling a hotel client, you need to be very specific. Do they want to be seen as a family-friendly hotel? A pet-friendly hotel? Maybe an accommodation perfect for group staycations?

It is your job to find out the answer and to get this message across to their target market (and competition, if any) during our project.

2. What is your project’s primary objective or goal?

Group of women discussing a creative brief

This is one of the most important questions that you should include in your creative brief questions. What is the main goal or objective of the project (or to put simply, why exactly did your client hire you?) What is there exactly for you to do in this company?

Again, you may have a different interpretation of what your client wants. So, to clear this up, you need to get an answer directly from them. This way, it will be clear what you need to do. By the end of the project, it will also be easier to find out if you have succeeded or not. Your client will also be reminded of what they asked you to do. Because, sometimes, there are clients who are fickle-minded.

3. Do you have a branding guide or book?

Before you get to work, you need to get your hands on your client’s branding book or guide. Freelancers can put in so much effort over a project, only to find out the client already has a specific font they want to be used. This is also especially helpful for campaigns and the company has branding colors. You never want to make the mistake of using the colors of a competitor.

If the company or your client does not have a branding guide, then this is another business opportunity for you. You might want to offer this service as branding is a must in today’s world. According to Forbes, you have to start branding as early as you can.

4. Who is the target audience?

A crowd watching a performance

Sometimes, the current market of your client is not their actual target audience. So, it must come from the client who they want their target market to be. Learning who your audience is can help you get valuable information for your project.

For example, if you create advertising for a nail salon, you need to know who they want to walk through their doors. Do they want Millenials to get their manicures from their salon? Or maybe they prefer yoga moms? Whoever they want their target audience to be, you have to adjust your advertising projects towards them.

So, for a younger audience, you might want to use slang and trendy words plus eye-catching colors. For a mature target market, you should gear towards a more sophisticated color palette. While for moms or shoppers, you can consider discussing promos with your client.

5. What kind of strategy do you want to use?

Your client should be able to answer what kind of strategy they want to implement for a project. However, don’t be surprised if they don’t really know what they want. You can step in and make suggestions. If they try to let you decide, the best you can do is lay out several strategies for them, and give all the pros and cons you can offer so that they can make an informed decision.

Creative Brief Tips for Freelancers

Woman working on laptop, holding a pen with one hand and a notebook on the other

Getting clients as a freelancer is a total gamble, you don’t really know what you’re getting. But that’s the beauty of freelancing, it’s always something new. You face challenges every day, and hopefully, from those challenges, you grow and become a better freelancer. Nevertheless, to make your life easier, take note of these creative brief tips so you can face whatever client comes at you:

Make it Short and Simple

Try to be as clear and concise as possible with your creative brief. Make the questions easy enough to answer and give space for clients to elaborate a little bit. The only thing harder to interpret than a client who says way too many is one who only gives you one-worded answers.

Set a Meeting with Clients, if possible

If you and your client have a chance to do a meeting for the creative brief, do make time for it. There are clients who are better at giving answers without having to write them (so, do take notes or record your meeting). It also helps to be there for answering creative brief questions because your client may have a query you need to explain.

Use a Waiver (when needed)

Now, if you ever get a client who refuses to answer your creative brief questions or simply tells you to do what you think is right, it’s time to pull out the waiver. A freelancer can only do so much with little information coming from a client. This waiver should explain that by not answering the creative brief questions, you are not able to give 100% to the project.

It’s like trying to answer a math problem but you lack the important information to actually solve it. So, bring out that waiver, and hopefully, your client will start answering the creative brief.


As a freelancer, you need to cater to your client’s needs. You don’t have a boss since you are a freelancer, but you do have a client that you need to please or satisfy. For you to do that, you need to get to know the client and their company first. And the best way to get to know your client or a company is to bring out creative brief questions.

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