How To Speak To Creatives – 7 steps to working with creatives
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How To Speak To Creatives – 7 steps to working with creatives

Jon BrodyJon Brody

July 15, 2021

Every business has creatives. These gifted team members are extremely valuable to your end goals as a company. Like every member of a team, creatives are a resource. It’s figuring out how to use that resource efficiently that matters.

So, how do you work with creatives? Every creative is different and has different preferences and beliefs. The key is to find a way to speak to creatives to add value and make their (and your) work better. Here are seven things to keep in mind when working with creatives:

1. Share Common Goals

When speaking to creatives, make sure the aim is great work that works. It’s important to remember that the assets that are made by creatives are not only tools to drive quantitative growth but also, a representation of your company. The end goal is to get to great creative work. Your role in that is providing creatives with everything that they need to make that happen with things like strategic planning.

Planning exists to support creativity. Ensuring that your creatives understand who your audience is, how they feel, and how using your product benefits them both rationally and emotionally is vital. A good strategy is the foundation of good creative work.

2. Value Clarity

Often, creatives are left with too little guidance. Telling an artist that you need a picture made could lead to a number of different eventualities. It could end up being an oil painting, a sketch, a digital painting… Who knows where it could go?

When working with creatives, you should value clarity over everything else. Let them have the freedom to flourish to their best capacity, but you also need guidelines of some form. Lay out exactly what the purpose of the project is. If you make the project brief too abstract, you may not end up with the same result as you were hoping for. When in doubt, keep it clear and easy to understand. Clarity should come first.

Creative brief to creatives is like the infinity gauntlet to Thanos - it gives them power to do their work.

3. Show Similar Examples

You can inspire your creatives by showing similar projects or examples of what you’re looking for. This is also a great way to work through the problem with creatives. They are visual people, so whenever you can show similar examples, do it.

If you’re creating something new, do some competitive research. You can show examples of what your competitors have done well and what they could improve upon. Seeing these examples will help creatives narrow down how to come up with something that’s on-brand with what you’re looking for.

4. Ask How You Can Help

CEOs and managers often know exactly what needs to be done to see a project through. However, it’s a bit different when it comes to working with creatives. Their work isn’t making marks on a spreadsheet or sorting through files. You aren’t able to tell them what they need to do exactly. Instead, be open and ask what you can do to help. If they’re running behind or if you want to be sure they feel supported, talk to them. Asking how you can help the creatives in your company will often lead to requests that will result in effective creative assets being made. Some examples of things creatives often ask for include, visual stimulus, understanding as to why the project is being undertaken.

5. Listen First

Perhaps one of the best ways you can show you know how to work with creatives is by listening. They want to know the ideas behind everything they’re doing. Many times, they also express themselves through emotions.

Creativity is a collaborative process. Although you may be doing the briefing, it’s important to remember that great work comes from creative briefs. A shortcut to get a great creative brief is asking the opinion of your creatives when you’re writing it. Ask them whether they feel the strategy is correct. Ask them if they feel that the work from this brief will resonate with your audience. Take value in their opinion.

6. Try Not To Give Creative Answers

Though it can be tempting to try and match their tone or style, try to refrain from giving creative answers to their problems. As a CEO or manager, your job is to make sure everything turns out great. If you respond creatively to them, creatives may run with your abstract answers. If they come to you with a question, try and answer it as literally as you can. Showing examples, writing everything down, and being clear and concise will get you much further in the long run.

7. Empathize With Them

Getting to great effective work is never an entirely smooth process. There will be most likely multiple rounds of creation with each step getting closer to the end goal. For creatives this can be a draining process – continuously coming up with ideas isn’t an easy thing to do. While most creatives have mastered the art of detaching themselves from their work, critical, negative feedback can often be damaging. Empathize with them, remember that you’re there to help get to great work and be constructive wherever possible. Help with the building process rather than simply criticizing and correcting and your bond with your creative team will be unbreakable.

Working with creatives and managing a creative team may be different than anything else you’ve done before. However, with these tips, you’ll be able to manage your creatives with a healthy balance of creativity, shared goals, and strict deadlines. Managing creatives will take time (and creativity on your part), but the payoff is always worth it.

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