Branding, design, copy, video, audio: whenever a business connects with the outside world, you need people that are able to create content. Those people are commonly referred to as ‘The Creatives’ and sooner or later you – yes, you – are going to need to interact with them.
It’s a prospect that many people find challenging, or even scary. But why? Why should it be any more or less difficult to work with a designer or videographer than, say, a financial analyst, a legal consultant or a project manager? The truth is, it doesn’t need to be – as long as you bear a few considerations in mind.
Don’t make assumptions
Hang up your preconceptions at the door: not every creative is a prima donna with a serious coffee habit and a surgical attachment to their Macbook. Some actually prefer tea. As in any other business unit, creatives are in general helpful people who are passionate about their work rather than mythical beasts who must be tamed. In other words, they’re people. Just like you.
Do learn the lingo
You don’t need to do a deep dive into the world of typeface ligatures or editing suites. But it does help to have an understanding of basic terminology in order to describe what it is you’re looking to achieve. Outlining whether a piece needs an active or passive tone of voice or whether you’d prefer warm colours over cool colours will get you closer to getting the right result. Which brings us onto:
Don’t neglect the brief
A request for anything more involved than a tweet should come in the form of a creative brief. The equivalent of a project management scope document, this is a document that covers every aspect of the project in detail, from the timescale to the assets required to the desired outcomes. It’s important to get agreement from all concerned; a bad, poorly specified or non-existent brief is a guaranteed path to missed deadlines and disappointment.
Do know what you want
One of the things about building a brief is that it also helps you to define what you’re actually after. Whether it’s a white paper, a fully-fledged advertising campaign or a webpage with a specific amount of content, it helps if you can show examples that have resonated with you or are similar to what you have in mind.
Don’t book ‘brainstorming’ sessions
Most creatives are thinking about ideas and concepts continually – taking in posters on their commute, packaging in the supermarket, irritatingly unskippable adverts on YouTube – and either taking inspiration from them or pondering how they’d have done it.
In other words, it’s not a tap that can be turned on and off; so scheduling a 2pm meeting and expecting someone to spurt out ideas on demand isn’t going to work.
Do remember that they’re professionals too
And in fact, that’s hardly the most empathic way of working. Equally, there are five words that nobody – in any role – wants to hear: ‘it shouldn’t take you long‘. It’s easy to fall into the trap of assuming that anything that you don’t understand is easy (and quick) to do.
But if that was the case, you wouldn’t need to engage the services of a skilled videographer, sound editor or animator; you’d do it yourself.
The takeaway, really, is to treat creative professionals the same way you’d treat anybody else you collaborate with – with respect, understanding and courtesy. They will surely return the favor. When you think of it from that angle, it’s really not that difficult after all.