Step 2: Brief

The brief is a basic list of requirements for any given type of asset. Briefs are critical to our process, and we use them for any writing task from small to large, including articles, case studies, blog posts, landing pages, testimonials, tutorials, and more.

Various strategic elements can inform the brief, such as:

  • Research

  • Personas

  • Voice and tone

  • Editorial plans

  • Campaigns

The brief sits at the top of the working document. By the time you’ve completed a brief, you will have clearly defined the key objectives of your piece and created a draft outline.

Write a brief

A brief provides us with a clearly thought-out purpose before we start writing content. It helps us focus our writing, build a strong narrative, make a compelling case for our thesis, and better connect to our audience.

Process over creativity

A brief helps us get started, keep up the momentum, and share work with collaborators. Once you start writing, you’re filling out details and building on previously defined points, rather than beginning with a blank screen.

Fail fast

Get a review and sign off on a brief from appropriate stakeholders—your community team, your colleagues, your boss, etc.—so you have a consensus on the thesis and the ideas before we start the draft. If a client or colleague makes suggested edits or structural notes, you can implement them before investing time in copywriting and editing.


You may have a great concept and research, but no time to write. Hand off the brief! Another person can pick up where you left off thanks to the excellent work you put in. They’ll have everything they need to start writing something worthwhile.

Key elements of a brief

Some briefs for specific asset types contain factors that others might not, but most briefs have a standard set of requirements. It’s hard for us to do a good job and be consistent and efficient without the following information:

  • Thesis: Main idea. What the content is about, the direct message.

  • Brand Message: Indirect message. What we want the reader to take away about the brand and/or the subject at hand.

  • Target Audience: Who is this for?

  • Pain Points: What are the target audience’s challenges?

  • Business Goals: Awareness, Conversion (define in CTA and/or CTV), Monetization

  • CTA/CTV: What is the next step we’d like them to take?

  • Outline:

    • Thesis: [Main Idea]

    • Supporting theme

      • Supporting point

      • Supporting point

    • Supporting theme

      • Supporting point

      • Supporting point

    • Supporting theme

      • Supporting point

      • Supporting point

    • Conclusion / CTA: [Closer]

The Content Brief is a living document. Update it as the article develops.