Beware the Creatives

Creative departments and agencies often won’t get it. In fact, you should assume they won’t. They’re wired to think abstractly, on the edge. And that’s why you hired them – to a point.

Sometimes the creative team can bully you into a certain design, certain copy, certain concept. They know what’s hip, what’s cutting edge (again, that’s why you hired them, right?). So while your gut might be telling you that a web banner with a skull and crossbones might not be the best choice for your new all-natural nutritional elixir, the lead designer can often sway you with talk of white space, font choice, primary colors and other stuff to make you second-guess yourself. They might even make you think that you’re being too cliché. Too old-fashioned. Not daring enough.

So here’s the point, Marketer: don’t allow your creatives to miss the forest for the trees (too cliché?). Don’t let their drive to be “creative” intimidate you away from making the project a business success. Don’t let their brainstorming turn into a natural disaster. And never let them convince you that they’re in charge. You are in charge of making the idea successful, and design is a piece of that puzzle. Albeit a very important piece, but a piece, nonetheless. If the piece they’re giving you doesn’t fit the puzzle you’re working on, get them to make you one that does.

A well-designed bad idea will be nominally successful at best. Focus on the idea. Focus on the end-goal. When the starting point and the ending point are clear, you can confidently lead all your supporters (esp. the creatives) toward that goal with ample latitude but with a resoluteness that is essential to anything substantial. And that’s what they’re looking for, Marketer.

p.s. The creatives are actually a big part of your success, so don’t completely ignore them. That’s another post, though.


9 responses to “Beware the Creatives

  1. I deal with the creatives as a printer of the final media and I
    can assure you that know Jack Shit about production interface
    and the print process..

  2. He DOES know Jack? Or he DOESN’T know Jack? I need to know.

  3. Any Creative Director or Designer who’s worth their salt will understand that the work they are producing is for one specific, simple, focused purpose: Profit.

    I agree – if it’s not helping sell product to the customer in their “language”… targeted appropriately considering the product that’s being sold, then the campaign, etc. needs to be re-worked. But, as a designer, I challenge this: if your creatives are producing “pretty” work just because it’s pretty. It’s time to find new creatives.

    At the same time, listen to your creatives. There are those of us who can think with business sense and can create work that is relevant, successful, and stunning. It would be a terrible mistake not to listen to those very same people you should trust to be the eyes, ears, and voice of your company.

    Thanks for your postscript, Brett… not all creatives are created alike. Give us a chance… and if you have an in-house creative department… hire very wisely.

  4. Onjejank – thought I might hear from you on this one. To your point, the creative who does understand the end goal and come up with new, effective ways of getting there can basically name their price. And, much of the responsibility lies with the marketer to clearly direct and set up the boundaries, not just leaving it to the designer.

  5. And I had a feeling I’d hear back from you, Bdunc1.

    Indeed, a creative who is effective is a real find. But I appreciate your words of caution, and I understand where you’re coming from – that’s why I can’t stress enough that marketers hire the right creative. You hit the nail on the head with where the mantle of responsibility lay: the marketer.

    It’s a partnership, and a creative needs to understand what the objectives, boundaries, and vision of their client are. It’s essential. Sadly a it’s dialog that, when missing, can lead to a lot of wasted time, money, and forward momentum.

    OK – I’ll give your blog back. Thanks for tackling the tough issues!

  6. Hey, you can keep the blog. This is like “Relevant Commenting 101!”

    Thanks for making this an interesting thread.

  7. This is interesting article I think it is very good Sometimes the creative team can bully you into a certain design, certain copy, certain concept. If you are interesting to more information visit the site business brainstorming

  8. Darma – thanks for the link.

    “Bully” is certainly an appropriate term at times, but sometimes it’s not quite as motivated as it is just a different paradigm. Marketers think mostly in terms of ROI and branding, and Creatives think mostly in terms of design and branding. And while the two groups have branding in common, the definition for it is usually quite varied.

  9. Pingback: 7 Great Designers I Know « Brett’s Blog

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