what degree of rigor do you need to get to a brand idea, and final creative, that meets your business objectives?  that's a matter of debate.  however, some degree of investigation and analysis is always necessary.  here are some options to consider.

steal this

this a great creative brief for getting to an idea quickly.  it strips out project details and "mandatories" so that you can focus on inspiring an idea that both solves a business problem and makes a human connection.

once you have the idea, this brief allows you to identify the executional details to explain the idea and how it should work.

here is a solid framework for positioning your brand. most frameworks have some variation of three c's (customer, culture, category, competition, company).  i've elevated the c's to concepts - relevance, differentiation, and expertise - that help to sharpen the analysis.

here is a brief to launch a creative project.  includes all the practical stuff, from business needs to marketing objectives, target audience/user, media, technology, budget, and timeline.

here is a brainstorming framework for product ideation.  it integrates the three most important variables - generation (for mindset), age (for life stage needs), and category - to identify key consumer milestones.  use this framework to go deep into your category and look for where the opportunities may be.

to get the purchase path right is to understand 1) how the customer identifies each phase of the process; 2) what he or she is trying to accomplish; 3) what content and functionality is required; 4) when and where are the greatest needs; 5) who else is involved.  this framework works hard to distill all these elements.

this is an "integrated" brand hierarchy for when you have to think about how the brand idea connects to the business or when you are designing a campaign that goes "through the line" from brand idea, to offering, and customer experience.

a classic brand hierarchy for developing a traditional brand campaign

deep background for the digital build: experience, content, and tech requirements.

personas can vary dramatically depending on the type of information that is most important to convey.  this framework identifies all the components you may want to consider: information about the segment to bring them to life, business value, media/digital behavior, and key opportunity to help them.

LLC

developing a touch-point strategy requires an understanding of how people consume media and use technology on a daily basis.  this diagram - inspired by a statistical profile of a target user - illustrates devices, tasks, content, and intensity of engagement.