Creatives can be found everywhere — in design studios, as part of marketing teams, or spearheading innovations in engineering and product management. The creative mindset can be a catalyst for change, or bring new ideas to life.
Sometimes those grand ideas need to be lassoed in, or shaped in a way that better aligns with budget and strategy. Ultimately, it’s about finding the right balance to get the best results. But if you don’t have a system in place, where do you start?
We asked industry professionals from different backgrounds and fields to weigh in on their experiences working with creatives. Here are some of our favorite takeaways:
Adjunct Professor of Marketing, Baruch College
The keys to making sure your creative and business teams are working in sync are twofold. First build a creative brief that inspires, informs, draws on insights from research and is grounded in KPIs, which both parties sign off on (as well as the client). Then physically meet frequently to review work and provide feedback to each other, constantly making sure you stress-test the creative work against that creative brief.
SVP, Client Development, The XD Agency
As an experiential agency, it is of the utmost importance that our client development and creative teams are perfectly aligned. Clients are hungry for experience design that creates emotion, but more importantly, they’re looking for experiences that lead to business outcomes.
We work hard to make sure our creative team is involved at the earliest stages of every project. At the outset of each one, our team works together to develop a project brief. Throughout the creative development process, the creatives regularly cross-check their concepts against that brief, ensuring that even the most innovative ideas also are delivering on the defined objectives.
Freelance Content Director, Broca Creative
In exceptional teams, ‘the creative mind’ is synonymous with ‘the business mind.’ No matter their job title, each person will demonstrate a creative approach to business goals. To separate these individuals is to stifle valuable conversation.
Working with creative professionals can feel a bit like navigating a minefield. All that creativity can manifest itself in a variety of ways, from joyful to intense focus to downright moody. Patience, sympathy, and respect all play important roles when working with a creative individual.
Know that inspiration is a lightning bolt that can strike at any time. The sudden manifestation of a brilliant idea or a tragically beautiful concept may unexpectedly alter the mood of a creative person significantly without warning.
You’ve got two opposites that need to come together. It’s either going to be a dance or a fight. You need to ensure creative projects have the freedom to evolve organically whilst ensuring they stick to the plan.
Of course I would say, sometimes business teams need to have more faith. I’ve seen many creative film projects ‘choked to death’ when business folks aren’t willing to be flexible. The best business teams need to be willing to go down the rabbit hole, not fill it in with concrete. Likewise, the best creative teams must be willing to reinforce their chocolate houses with some sound structural engineering.
Travel Writer and Creative Director, Travellers Archive
From 12 years of experience I can say that it is beneficial that both sides, the creative department and business department, know exactly how the other one works. Only through mutual understanding, both parts can work perfectly together and make sure that creative projects meet your business goals.
Nichole Elizabeth DeMeré
Community Growth, Zest.is
I love the visuals that my graphics designer creates for my blogs. She deeply understands my visions because we’ve had in-depth discussions about what matters most to me – things like representation. I also send her a couple of sentences with each request so that she knows exactly what I’m looking for in terms of each piece that she creates so that she has very little that she needs to re-do.
Founder and CEO, San Diego SEO and Online Marketing Inc.
Suggest, but don’t impose. When you are around creative people, they are often very protective of their process as they are of their ideas. If you impose or just barge in on their this is how I do it mindset, you won’t be welcomed. It’s better to suggest an idea, that way they won’t feel as if you are trying to cramp their style.
Most creative professionals are interested in feedback on their work, whether it is a critique of a piece of visual art or a focus group reaction to a video production. This feedback loop can be extended to include a company’s business goals, and help creative professionals grasp the big picture that includes their contribution. Anecdotal back-patting for effective projects is helpful but often inconsistent. By making a review of business achievements and customer feedback a regular part of creative team management, team-members can better understand the impact of their individual contributions.
CXO, Velo IT Group
You can’t treat the creative professional like an outsider and expect to get insider level results. It takes mutual trust for them to be able to offer creative content and graphics that are not just creative, and also connect with what you’re selling and how you sell it.
Chief Content Coordinator, Classy Inbound
Begin meetings with the attitude that everyone is working to make the event a success. Communicate to all team members that changes do not indicate failure, mistakes, or rejection. Changes are driven by data, and changes are expected to be a part of the campaign.