Seven Creative Director Tips

These are my Creative Director tips I wrote for Campaign Asia a couple of years ago…

1: Always have a private team project on the go. Preferably with some tangible outcome, perhaps working on a project for a not for profit organisation. Decide on the project, together as a team and allow members to specify what parts they want to work on. Keep the momentum going by fixing regular meetings but in a fun informal environment.

2: Get input from everyone. At the beginning of every project get ideas from everyone you can. You don’t have to be a designer or copywriter to have great ideas. If account managers or accountants want to contribute then that’s OK. I’ve even had valuable input from the office cleaner in the past.

3: No idea is too crazy. It is often the least promising ideas that work out best. The initial idea that seems a bit too weird or odd that when refined and finessed gives you the most outstanding solution. By telling your team “No idea is too crazy” and encouraging them to be ‘out there’ with their thinking the quieter team members will feel more confident to pitch in.

4: Mix up the ideation process. Send team members off to random locations to ideate alone after you have done a big brainstorming session. See what inspiration they can find outside the normal working environment, taking time out to think alone in an unusual place.

5: Put yourself out of a job. Impart as much knowledge as you can as often as you can, so that one day even the most junior designer can do your job. Don’t feel threatened by this; you want to be the smartest team in the room when you go into a pitch, not the smartest person.

6: Remember everyone in your team is a cauldron of emotions. They need your support as much as you need their skills. It may be a seemingly trivial thing that is bothering them, an argument with a partner, a broken phone, or just feeling down. Always leave ‘space’ for your team and be flexible so they can push through those events on their own and refocus on the creative when they have passed.

7: Never pay any attention to tips given by other Creative Directors. It’s a lot easier to talk about being creative than it is to actually be creative, so always take tips with a pinch of salt. Question the hell out of them and remix them with your own experience to formulate your own unique style. Whist I stand by the above approach the way items are implemented will change from one job, project, agency or team, to another.