The Big Picture: 5 Ways to Collaborate With Your Creative Team

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I always wonder what clients think when writers, designers and photographers are introduced as the agency “creatives.”

Do you picture rogue, wild-haired creatures armed with sketchbooks? Do you worry we won’t speak your language? Do you wonder if we can be tamed?

For the most part, other than a few wild-hair days, we are remarkably ordinary people who just happen to think and express ourselves in visual terms. And our role at the agency is also pretty straightforward: We establish brand stories and shape visual identities to help companies connect with their customers.

But how do we get there? What does that process look like? And how can we learn to work together and speak each other’s language?

Below, we share five ways you can engage in the creative process and help us do our best work:

  1. Share everything (and we do mean everything).
    We always kick off creative projects with a discovery session. This an opportunity to discuss deep questions, openly share what’s working or not working with your marketing efforts and define your wish list. To help us plan your projects, we want to see all the marketing collateral you’re using and understand how you’re using it. Having a holistic view of your wants, needs, processes and end usage helps us create strong work that adds value for you and your audience.

  2. Complete a creative brief.
    Think of the creative brief like the north star of your project. When we’re hot off the discovery session and the project specs are fresh in our minds, completing the brief can feel a bit redundant. But it’s worth doing, we promise. We’ve learned that after several emails, phone chats, content modifications and slight directional shifts—it’s really easy to get off track. Consistently aligning our work to the creative brief keeps us on our intended path and ensures we meet our agreed upon goals. And, if a project needs to be shifted once underway, updating the creative brief will ensure we’re all on the same page with the new direction. 

  3. Assign a small group of key decision-makers.
    It might seem like a good idea to ask everyone in the office to weigh in on logo concepts, core messages or website design. It might even feel like you’re earning goodwill and buy-in from your team. But art is subjective and striving for consensus can kill creativity. Many people are resistant to change, and the more conflicting opinions you gather, the harder it is to guide meaningful discussions or move the work forward. Instead, we suggest selecting a few trusted stakeholders to actively engage in the process. Just be sure the people you choose are all in on the project and that they will make themselves available to the team when needed.

  4. Whenever possible, say it with pictures.
    Oh, have I mentioned we’re a visual bunch? Since we can’t see inside your head, we love it when you illustrate what you’re thinking. The best way to accomplish this is to show us examples of creative work you like. There are lots of easy ways for you to share your vision with our team. You can create a private Pinterest page and make us a collaborator. You can save screenshots to a shared DropBox folder. Or you can simply send us links to websites you love. While we will never duplicate someone else’s work, seeing your inspiration helps our new ideas take shape.

  5. Tell us “WHY”.
    Sometimes it takes a few tweaks to get something just right—so it’s totally okay if you don’t love something out of the gate. But simply saying, “I don’t love it” doesn’t point us in the right direction. In order to follow your thought process and pinpoint what edits to make, we need you to tell us why you don’t like something. We know that can feel like a big ask when you’re not used to delivering critiques of creative work. We’re always happy to gently guide you through the process by asking questions that get you talking about the specific things you want to change or keep.

The way we see it, we’re all in this together. You are just as much a part of the creative process as the team of creatives executing work.

And by putting these practices into place, we all achieve our shared goal: To create beautiful designs and meaningful messages that resonate with your audience. 

So, maybe we’re not so different after all.

Do you have a creative project you’d like our team to tackle? We’d love to hear about it. Approach us at hello@approachmarketing.com.