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Knowing how to write a creative brief can mean the difference between success and failure on any project – and this is especially true with advertising banners. Here’s our top tips for getting it right.

Banner design. It can’t be that difficult, surely.  

You just create some ads and put them online. Easy, right? 

Well, no. Not really. 

Unless you’re designing them yourself, it’s unlikely your team is going to get them right first time. And that holds true whether you’re designing them in house or using an external design agency. 

As with any design project, a well-constructed creative brief is vital. This one document is the difference between getting what you want and several rounds of amends, with a large helping of frustration on both sides.  

A creative brief will also reduce the chances of your banner project dragging on and becoming subject to scope creep, resulting in unexpected costs and bad feeling on both sides.  

In other words, a strong creative brief is essential on for all parties involved. 

Convinced? Good. 

So, how do you create a creative brief for advertising banners? 

We at TCC have pooled our collective knowledge in design, development, advertising and remarketing to help you create an effective brief every time. 

Keep your creative brief concise 

This might sound like an odd point to start with, but you must keep brevity in mind. Think of this as the ‘brief’ part of the creative brief. 

Keep brevity in mind

While you may want to include lots of information, it’s unlikely to help your creative team. We’ve seen briefs run into thousands of words in the past; the result is that pertinent information gets lost amongst extraneous details. 

Keep it to two pages, maximum. Anything more is excessive.

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Get stakeholder buy-in for your creative brief

If other people have a vested interest in the project, let them have a say before you hand your brief to the creative team.  


Because they’re likely to have their own vision. 

If they can’t see that in the banner artwork, they’re likely to want changes after the bulk of the design work is complete.  

Make sure your team’s goals, audiences and messages are aligned before banner production begins. 

What’s the purpose of the banner? 

Before the creative process begins, be sure you have a clear goal in mind. 

Is the advert promoting a new product? The launch of a sale? Or is it for general brand awareness? 

An advert designed to drive brand awareness is likely to be different from a banner promoting a January sale. The images, messages and call-to-action are dependent on your aims, so make sure this is clear from the outset.  

What banners do you want? 

It may seem obvious, but again, it’s good to define the end product.   

Do you want a whole series of banners designed in different sizes, or just the concept for one?  

You should also define the file format you want them to be delivered in. It may be that the platform you’re uploading to wants GIFs or static PNGs.  

You should also define the file format you want them to be delivered in

There is also likely to be a restriction on file size, because advertisers want their pages to load quickly. As such, the smaller the file size the better.  

Be sure to check file-size restrictions with your advertising platform be make sure you give the designers guidelines. 

Where will your banners be displayed? 

Give the designers an idea of where the banners will appear if you can. Obviously, this isn’t possible in all cases – especially if you’re uploading to an affiliate network – but give as much guidance as possible. 

The reason being that you may need to add a pop of colour and a border to the banners, especially on sites that are of a similar colour palette. However, if you know the site is visually busy, your creative team may opt for a clean design so your banners stand out.  

Read more: Building a successful ecommerce strategy

Who is your target audience? 

It’s easy to get lost in the creative process and create banners that you like. However, most of the time, you are not your target audience.  

Make sure you clearly define who you want to click your ads. Who are your customers? 

A creative team will use different imagery and messaging for adverts aimed at young families booking a holiday as opposed to adverts for pensioners, for instance. 

Do you have brand guidelines? 

If you want your banners to be consistent with your brand’s look and feel, be sure to provide a copy to your design team. These should include a guide to what you can and can’t do with the brand and your tone of voice, as well as a guide to the visual style associated with your brand. 

Why is it important to be consistent?  

Not only does it ensure that your banners reinforce the brand, but it also helps give an idea of what people will see upon clicking the banner.  

Are the banners part of a wider campaign? 

If so, you’ll want the look and feel to tie in with this activity. Again, brief your team on what the campaigns aims are and artwork previously produced. 

Your creative team will use this information to create consistent banners that reinforce the messaging and create banners complementing the look and feel. 

Who are your competitors? 

If you can, supply a short list of your top three competitors. 

This will allow the creative team to explore the market and ensure that you stand out from the crowd.  

Top tip: use Moat to discover the banner artwork of any other brand online. You can explore what other people are doing online and identify what works and what doesn’t. 

What’s your budget? 

If you’re going to use external resource, have a clear budget at the outset. 

Your team will then be clear on what they can do within the budget provided. You don’t want to incur more work than you have budget for – it can only lead to bad feelings on both sides – so be clear. 

When’s the deadline? 

Knowing when you want to launch the banner ads is essential. It gives your creatives a date to work towards.  

They can schedule the project accordingly, so they have time design and feedback before delivering the final artwork.  

It will save a lot of frantic discussions at the 11th hour – trust us! 

Read more: Achieving ecommerce excellence

Who has final sign-off on the banners? 

While it might be you, there’s a chance that you’re reporting into someone else, who has the final say. Make sure your team knows that while you may be happy with what’s produced, they may need to wait on someone else’s feedback for sign off. 

Consult your creative team 

Finally, once you have your brief ready to go and sign-offed by the stakeholders, show it to your creative team.  

While you may have covered everything above, there may be other points they need to consider. That’s why it’s important to be collaborative. They may have requirements that need to be factored into the project.  

Once they’re happy, you’ll have a solid creative brief and your banners will be ready for production. 

Got any tips on briefing or being briefed? Drop us a line on Twitter!