Agencies all have different strengths and specialties, but most share similar base skill—diverse and individual styles and approaches to the creative process. Here are some of ours:
The Big Picture
We use the creative brief as much more than a mere project outline. We use the brief as a guiding foundation. As we wander off in the distant waters of brainstorming and concept development, we know that we may stray to think outside the box, but will then return to the almighty brief as the ultimate checkpoint. Are we in line to meet the business goal? Are we appropriately representing the brand and conveying the core message with the correct tone of voice?
The brief encapsulates the client’s business need or even a more specific client idea, but the agency then creates the vision that makes an idea or goal come alive with a strong impact and, perhaps, a fully integrated campaign or long term communication program.
The brief might include numbers that influence our creative pathways, such as trends in the target market, audience and competition. Even when formal research is not an official part of the client engagement, we always engage in some form of secondary research where we uncover enlightening facets to the messaging, design, brand communication or media landscape.
What about the account execs in the creative process? They are expected to be everything to everyone. Here is a peek into their role at an ad agency.
What about the creative department? Designers, writers, illustrators and information architects are communication experts expected to know more than our specific craft. We need to think big picture and understand industry mechanics such as technology insights, social media trends and brand strategy topics such as: what makes consumers loyal to a brand?
Barriers, Challenges or Snags along the Way
Lack of budget and time may seem like the impossible when it comes to a creative ad concept, campaign, website or design. What we have discovered is that sometimes these constraints can lead to great work! Creative teams are known to produce results when under the pressure of the last minute deadline. Additionally, ideas can sometimes fizzle when they are over-designed. The best idea might come from that first marker sketch on a napkin.
Visuals can drive writers. Words can drive designers. Trained as a designer, I rely heavily on words to drive my initial ideas. When I push my brain with words, the ideas come even if not formulated as complete visuals yet.
As a team we create mood boards to begin to round out the different dimensions of a brand. These boards might include words, visuals, symbols, art, cultural icons, underground media findings, viral video, aspirational brands or advertising, photos of inspiring every day surroundings, locations or physical objects.
Off the Grid
Just like kids, we need screen-free time. Creative ideas might come when you least expect it. On the other hand, sometimes ideas do not come easy and require hours of sketching and, yes, doodling counts.
Our environment helps with a continual creative flow. Colleagues with a collaborative spirit, open minds and even our physical desk tops fuel that process.
Nonsense Can Open Up the Creative Mind
The common thread among creative minds is that their odd behaviors are just ways to keep the creative flow going and generate ideas. Here is a peek into the daily routine of a creative mind.
Sometimes the account execs and digital strategists say let’s try a new approach: We did a wacky blog post as a test to our own EVR promotional email click-through rates.
Refinement & Edits
The editing process is crucial in a quality product. Even if the idea comes early on, the final marketing communication gets better with multiple internal eyes, the client’s eyes, viewpoints from diverse disciplines, group critique sessions and outside focus groups.
For example, here are some simple tips we practice when reviewing video rough cuts.
Just when we think a project is complete and launched online, sent off to the digital publisher or to the printing press—we are always prepared for the “one more edit” phase. Whether it is a prepress glitch resulting from the preflight of a portable document format or a cascading style sheet bug from the web dev code—we have seen it all and are prepared to tackle the unexpected.