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10 key components to writing a successful brand brief (with examples)

17 min read
Katie Oberthaler

Any creative team that has gone through the branding process knows just how daunting it can be to capture and agree upon the core brand values of the business.

That's where compiling a comprehensive brand brief comes into play. 

A brand brief is the backbone of how a brand's story is expressed throughout the business. Writing a brand brief creates a foundation for creative asset creation and design, marketing, internal company culture, customer engagement and so much more. 

That can be a lot of information to distill down into one document. Many creative teams struggle with creating a comprehensive brand brief that expresses brand standards and values in a useable format.

In this article, we'll show you exactly how to write a brand brief that communicates brand standards 

What we'll cover

What is a brand brief? 

A brand brief is a comprehensive overview of exactly what a brand is and isn't

It outlines the objectives, goals, values, and vision of your brand, allowing anyone involved with creating brand assets to communicate the direction, purpose, and positioning of the business as clearly as possible.

A strong brand brief should include:

1. Vision Statement

This includes long and short-term objectives for a brand.

2. Mission Statement

The mission statement should provide a summary of how you intend to achieve your vision.

3. Brand promise

A brand promise encompasses the solutions and expectations your brand aims to communicate to customers and prospects.

4. Brand values

Brand values express the unique core values a brand is based around. Integrity, quality, and eco-friendliness are just some examples of brand values.

5. Target audience

A brand brief should outline what types of consumers a brand intends to engage with and serve.

6. Brand-positioning/USP

Brand positioning provides the ultimate reason why customers should choose a brand over other options.

7. Key competitors

A brand brief should also identify similar brands that would be most likely to also win over the target audience. 

8. Competitive advantage

The competitive advantage includes the conditions or circumstances that allow a brand to offer better solutions over key competitors.

9. Brand voice

The brand voice outlines a brand's style of communication. Brand voice includes the words and tone that should be used (or not used) throughout all brand communications.

10. Brand culture

Lastly, brand culture provides a list of principles, a code of conduct and work ethics that should exist within the internal environment of the brand.

Brand brief vs. creative brief: What's the difference?

Many teams tend to confuse creative project briefs with brand briefs. Both documents can be used to clearly communicate creative ideas. In order to successfully create an effective branding strategy, it's essential to understand the difference between a brand brief and a creative brief.

A brand brief is an in-depth overview of exactly what an entire brand is about, where it is headed, and what it could become. It is a living document intended to guide the creation and use of all brand-related assets and activities. 

A creative brief is an overview of a brand-specific project. A creative brief would include a project-specific mission, goals, objectives, and how a creative team intends to achieve all those things.

The main purpose of the brand brief is to communicate what brand perception you want people to feel for your brand. The creative brief is mainly used to keep a freelancer, agency, or creative department in line with the brand goals in a brand brief when creating a new project.

BRAND BRIEF CREATIVE BRIEF
Vision statement Brand profile
Mission statement Market position
Brand promise Brand voice
Brand values Creative project goals and overview
Brand positioning Audience
Brand voice and personality Project objective
Stakeholders Project type
Target audience List of assets and deliverables
Key competitors Project timeline and deadlines
Competitive advantage Budget
Brand culture  

 

What this means is that the brand brief is the foundational reference for creating any other strategic brief you’ll need in order to grow your business.

The benefits of creating a brand brief

A comprehensive brand brief creates control over a brand story. so that others tell your story for you in the direction that they want.

With a brand brief, there is no confusion whatsoever as to what a brand should depict (and become) and what is actually communicated across and within brand assets. A brand brief ensures that everyone--not just the marketing or creative team--is on the same page about your brand.

Some of the advantages of writing and providing a branding brief include:

  • Clarify and refine brand strategies and values to content creators
  • Communicate the ideas of the creative teams to other internal teams
  • Providing direction to external contractors
  • Get cost estimates for branding services
  • Guide employees and crucial decisions
  • Promote consistency in external communications across the business

If you are creating a new brand or your former branding doesn't depict your brand accurately anymore, a brief enables your creative team to take charge of your brand story.

Who is in charge of writing the brand brief?

For the best results and effectiveness, creating a brand brief should be a collective effort between a creative team and executive leadership within a business.

The founder and other key members of management should actively participate in the process of writing a branding brief because they best know the vision behind the brand. The executive team should provide information on a brand's vision, mission, goals, and core values.

The brief will also produce better results when people from other departments contribute feedback, too. Never underestimate the value of getting lots of different opinions. Customers especially can provide key insights into how a brand is publically perceived versus internal expectations for brand values. 

When it comes to compiling the brand brief, the person within the creative team in charge of writing the brief should have strong communication and project management skills. They should remain hands-on and analytical as brand information and opinions arise throughout the business. They should also have a strong sense of brand awareness and design, and a strong focus on getting results.

10 key components of a successful brand brief 

Now that you know why you should create a brand brief and who should be in charge of creating it, let’s get into the actual writing process.

Step #1: Define brand ideas

Before you even get started with writing your brand brief, you should clarify what the idea behind your business is.

  • What is your product, idea or offering?
  • What problem does it solve?
  • Who does it solve this problem for?
  • What makes your solution unique?

Your merged answers to this question should be a quick yet accurate response to the question “what do you do?”

“We are BRAND NAME, and we create/offer BRAND OFFERING for BRAND AUDIENCE who want to BRAND SOLUTION and BRAND USP or COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE” it’s almost like an elevator pitch!

Step #2: Specify the target market 

A good branding brief will always specify the main persona your brand should focus marketing efforts on.

Ask questions like:

  • Who are we selling to?
  • What problems do they have?
  • What unique attributes separate our customers from other people?

If you don’t have a target audience already here are ideas to help you define yours.

  • Look at your current customers. Are there common characteristics or interests evident between the people who buy most from you? That’s a good place to start with targeting.
  • Look at your product/service. Dig deeper into who would benefit most from your entire solution, as well as each of your product features.
  • Choose who you want. When the idea for your solution came to you, who did you have in mind? What age group, gender, income level, marital status, occupation do they fall under? Ask all these crucial questions.

Just be sure to keep in mind that any target demographic you choose should have enough people who can afford to buy your offering at the rate and frequency needed to sustain your business.

Step #3: State the brand promise

Now that you’ve nailed your target audience, it’s time to get clear on what they can expect from using your brand.

Sounds easy but many fall into the trap of simply stating any boring old message without too much thought behind it. That’s a misused opportunity!

To create a brand promise that will help boost your brand, start by listing all the reasons why customers choose you, and the reasons why they count on you to deliver.

Which of those reasons make the most sense to you? Which ones can you stake your brand name on? Those are the attributes you should be building your brand promise around.

For example, here at Ziflow, our customers choose us because we provide a faster way for teams to collaborate and get review and approvals for their work. 

So, part of our brand promise is to help creative teams review and approve creative content faster and more accurately, and in the process, ensure compliance.

M&Ms –the chocolate brand– has a “no chocolate mess” brand promise.

A great brand promise is simple, unique, and memorable. Double points if it’s credible and inspiring too.

Step #4: Define the brand mission

A mission is the who, what, and why of your brand while the vision is the impact your brand hopes to make in the world with its offerings.

It’s important to define these two things in order to keep the balance between what is, and what you hope can be. The here and now, vs the future.

For example LinkedIn’s vision is to “create economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce” and their mission is to “connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful.”

linkedin vision and mission - welcome to linkedin

 

Step #5: Brainstorm your value proposition

This is the ultimate “why choose me” for your brand.

Sometimes, the value proposition can sound like the brand promise, but it’s not the same thing.

While the brand promise is the idea of what your customers should expect from your brand, the value proposition is the reason they should favor your brand over your competitors.

To pinpoint your value proposition, ask questions like:

  • What ways are my products different from the competition?
  • Does my product use less resources to achieve the results?
  • What features does it have?
  • What emotional drivers of purchasing does it cater to?
  • What hidden needs does it fulfill?
  • What rational drivers of purchasing does it cater to?

These questions should help you find your USP.

Step #6: Recognize the competition

Many savvy businesses already know that keeping tabs on the competition is a great way to stay in business.

If you know who’s most likely to put you out of business, you are more likely to know what new developments you need to adopt in order to adjust, or even beat them.

It’s good practice to write a brief overview of your top 3 competitors at least in your brand brief.

Step #7: Outline a brand's competitive advantages

Here’s another reason why it’s smart to watch your competition. When you know your competition, it gets easier to determine those things you are doing that cannot be easily replicated.

  • Do you have access to resources that allow you to sell at lower rates?
  • Are you positioned at a better location?
  • Do you have the best talents working in the industry?
  • Maybe more data, or a network economy that encourages word of mouth growth?

If you are having trouble pinpointing your competitive advantages, take the time to compare your products to your competitors and ask your customers why they choose your brand over your competitors’.

Step #8: State brand values

Your brand values help frame your brand story in a way that humanizes your brand. And a “human” brand is a brand that inspires loyalty.

  • What beliefs does your brand stand for?
  • Defining and establishing good brand values helps you:
  • Stay true to your mission and vision
  • Boost employee performance
  • Create a memorable brand
  • Connect better with your audience
  • Inspire brand loyalty

Some good ways to gain insight into what your brand values may be is to ask employees and customers.

Questions like “What does our company value most?” and  “What do we stand for?” are good places to start.

Step #9: Lay down the brand culture

The brand culture is what your company looks like from the inside out. If core values are the heart of a company, then the culture is the soul.

Here’s an inside look at the brand culture here at Ziflow:

How we work - company culture is at our heart

 

Establishing a great brand culture ensures that you:

  • Attract like-minded employees, and dream customers
  • Foster passion and motivation among employees
  • Convert employees into passionate brand ambassadors
  • Create a brand that’s authentic

Brand voice and image

Most people will already have the visual personality of the brand covered but the brand voice is just as important.

The brand voice is the unique attitude and personality of your brand. It’s what makes your brand memorable, and creates a sense of consistency and harmony across your marketing channels.

How do you pass across your message? Are you the fun but authoritative brand? The brand that uses sarcastic humor? Or the premium and exclusive brand?

Inspiring brand brief examples

Here are some of our favorite brand brief examples to draw inspiration from.

Example #1: Virgin’s brand brief

Virgin’s brand brief starts with a company profile that describes what the group is, when it was founded and by whom, and its main market activities.

Next there’s an overview of the current numbers and a summary of the growth history. They also  state the brand values that drive the company and other data and information that define their brand.

Example #2: BMW’s brand brief

This brand brief is simple yet passes across all the useful information.

They state the goals, research and insights behind the brand, the target audience, creative work, brand story and media plan.

Example #3: Nike’s brand brief

Nike’s brief starts with the executive summary, and includes information on the target audience, product features and benefits.

They also touch on the current brand image, the desired brand image, their direct competitors, and their indirect competitors among other things.

Final thoughts

Getting started writing a brand brief can seem overwhelming knowing that the brief will directly impact how your brand is perceived publically and internally.

However, taking the time to outline your brand story and voice and providing guidelines for how that story should be expressed throughout your business gives your business total control over your brand's image. A brand brief provides the foundation for your creative team to produce work that is consistently and completely aligned with brand values. Refer back to this guide to get started today with your branding process.

Katie Oberthaler