The best creative work comes out of a strong partnership between you and your creative branding agency. You provide the overall direction and objectives; they provide the experience and talent to achieve them. Clearly defined roles—and commitment from both parties to their particular roles—create great results. In other words, concentrate on what you do best and let your creative partner concentrate on what they do best.
Explain Your Business’s Organization
Much of your direction will be subject to interpretation. The more your creative team can learn about your organization, its structure, and its personnel, the more accurate their interpretations will be. That said, the very first step is to get the agency up to speed with how you and your business work, who’s who in your command structure, and how your approval process works. The more people you allow to have a voice in the final decision, the more viewpoints and opinions you will need to process. Try to limit the number of people who can review a project. To avoid conflicting opinions or messages, have one person act as the clearinghouse for all project communications. Have all messages to your creative partners come through that one person, whether it’s you or a designated member of your team.
Review Your Preferences and Provide Objectives
Although your general likes and dislikes should already be known, reviewing them within the context of a specific project is still necessary. The more specific you can be about what you want to achieve, the better your chances of getting it. Try to state your objectives as clearly and quantitatively as possible. One of the most effective ways to do this is by preparing a creative brief. It will help you organize your thoughts and objectives and minimize the chance of misunderstandings or misinterpretation by your creative team.
Provide Creative Freedom
This part may not be as easy as it sounds. To get the best work from your creative team, be sure to tell them what you’d like them to achieve, but never how to do it. They know more than you about what does and does not communicate well. Don’t make the common mistake of hiring professionals and then ignoring the reason they were hired. When reviewing ideas and concepts, remember that there are few rights or wrongs in creative efforts, only individual preferences. When something meets all the goals you’ve established and you can’t be objective in your criticism, accept it; don’t let you own personal taste or limitations destroy an approach that could be effective.
Budget and Timeline
Creative projects and campaigns can be developed in many different ways. To ensure efficiency and effectiveness, you need work with your creative team to establish budget and time parameters for each project. Then, based on the information you’ve provided, ask them to prepare a proposal or estimate detailing what they will be able to provide and on what schedule. Once a schedule has been set up, stick to it. Compressing the time that your creative team needs to do good work is a major cause of projects ending up over budget and (to no one’s surprise) late. The creative development process is linear. Many functions cannot be shortened without affecting quality and risking mistakes.
Great appearance will get you noticed, but it does not guarantee great performance. Working to communicate with your creative partner through every step of the process can greatly increase the chances of success.