How to Unlock Your Team’s Creative Process
We have found the creative process can be a great opportunity to marry the form and function of the visual aspects of any advertising campaign. Not only should an image look good, but it should help tell the story of the brand but it should convey a message and support a call-to-action.
How to Tackle the Creative Process
The creative process is understanding what dots are necessary to connect in order to get the whole picture. You need to help your creative team understand the expectations of the deliverables. Telling a creative person to “just go and be creative” is like telling a stranger to go food shopping for you without a list, knowing what you like, knowing if you have food allergies, or what you’ve planned to eat this week. No good can come out of not communicating what you want, what you’re looking for, or what you need.
Steve Jobs had an unbelievable understanding of what constitutes “creativity.”
Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they formed their creations, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new ideas. The reason they were able to do that, is that they took a deeper dive into their experiences than other people.
Even in this definition of creativity, one needs to know what to connect. On Connect The Dots worksheets from elementary school, the dots have numbers indicating what order the dots must be connected to create an image or picture that you wouldn’t have seen without them. Now imagine trying to connect those dots without numbers. That’s where the imaginative mind of a creative individual comes into play. They have the end goal in their mind, they just need to envision what dots to connect.
Think of a time when you sat down with your creative team and became frustrated because you wanted them to produce something and they seemed as though they weren’t interested. What happened leading up to that moment of frustration?
The creative process is just that – it’s a process. A process is defined as, “a series of actions or steps taken in order to achieve a particular end.” Just as a destination, you need to know where to end so you can begin. Which ties into what we just talked about.
Think about the creative process of planning a trip. Let’s consider what is going to happen if you and your partner were to take a trip.
– Where would you go?
– What would you do?
– When will you go?
– How would you get there?
– How much will it cost?
– What should you pack?
Consider this process next time you sit down with your creative team.
- Start with the End in Mind: What will a good job look like? What do you need as a deliverable? When do you need it? Will you need one image or several? What’s the direction we need to take? The more details are given upfront, the less follow-up and editing are needed upon the deadline. Your creative team will need an end goal in mind. Key results should be explained so deliverables can be met.
- Discover: The creative team will need to research what is already out there in the world. They will need to connect with inspiration. They need to know which step to take to get them moving towards the goal. This is likely where your team will spend most of their time.
- Show the Thing: This should always be a sketch of some sort just to get the ball rolling. Refinement can be achieved through technology. Sometimes just getting to work will help refine some of the uncertainties of the project.
- Feedback and Updates: Sometimes you nail it on the first try. Sometimes, there needs to be some reigning in. There needs to be check-ins and updates to make sure the creative team is in alignment and the whole project hasn’t gone off track. Time is money. Even when a project is delayed one day, there is revenue being lost that can never be made up. If you find you are making far too many edits, it is time to manage the expectations of your team or your client.
- Launch and Review: This is where most creatives fail. Most people just stop once the piece is launched. In the world of advertising, art is subjective. Until results start rolling in, what looks good to you but isn’t performing, needs to go. There is no room for egos here – only results. If your results are terribly off from your projections, it’s time to go back to reevaluate the campaign goals and the direction being given to the team. Just because you spend the most money on Facebook or Google, doesn’t mean they are going to “make” your consumers purchase your product. They are just going to pester your audience with an ad or image that just doesn’t work. It’s tough to rebound from a bad campaign. Test, analyze, optimize.
Our agency’s creative team was tasked with naming a new product and designing a logo for our new offering.
– Could we name it anything we wanted?
– What would the name have to do?
– Were there names or ideas that our CEO already had in mind?
– What names were already out in the world that we couldn’t use?
– Were there certain words that worked better than others?
A working name was quicked picked and stuck for a little while. However several people in the agency noted the name was clunky, difficult to say, and didn’t really explain the service.
So, we unleashed the creative process. We considered what assets were available and what direction was provided by our CEO.
We Googled names, definitions, synonyms, and antonyms. We looked at websites already using similar names or designs, and all-in-one copyright websites. This “discover” phase was where we spent the most time.
Next, the notepads came out to play.
We wrote down words, partial words, then spell’d sum WeRds DifferentLee. We brainstormed. We walked around the office. We talked to one another. And just when we thought we were going to explode – it came to us. Media Ad Metrics. It was simple. It was to the point. It flowed. EUREKA!! We had it!
Next, we had to design a logo. Nothing fancy and it needed to be versatile. It needed to be able to grow and morph. It needed to be eye-catching. It needed to be relatable and easy-to-read. It needed to be a cousin of our current branding. That cousin that sort of looks like you when you are with the rest of the family yet can stand and hold their own when they are on stage alone.
We knew we wanted to use a clean, simple font that was personable, approachable, and could be easily comprehended. We also needed that font to translate interchangeably from print to digital use without losing its edge.
Once all of those items were taken into consideration, the sketching began. It was done on a whiteboard, then we sketched on a notepad. We were so close.
No color, just black and white at this point. We needed to get its functionality of it before we made it look pretty. We are exploring how the letters connected with one another. We are exploring how negative space affects the feeling of the letters together. We were testing leading and kerning. Of the five iterations, one was presented to the Ops team.
They said, “We like it! Let’s see it with some color in it!”
We knew we wanted to use the Colling Media brand colors and that was the last dot to connect.
There were more than twelve iterations of the logo with color. When we narrowed the selection down to one, another 30 minutes were dedicated to each individual letter in relation to the letters around it.
We were careful to understand the path that the eye took through the logo. We wanted to make sure the eye moved over the logo smoothly. The brain needed to simply and easily read, process, and comprehend our logo.
In the end, we came up with what we feel is a perfect representation of our product. It’s the connection of several existing dots creating something new.
Our creation is up and running. We’re launching the service with confidence.
The creative process and all of its steps take time. A creative team can’t “just create something.” A direction is needed. Some communication of the end goal is imperative. The creative process takes patience and participation. Next time a creative project arises, consider how the process unfolds. The more time and energy you put up a front, the more your team will reap the rewards in the end.
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Co-author: Yezen Jaber