E-harmony for Suits and Creatives

Creatives versus Suits: it’s the ongoing tug-o-war played out in nearly every advertising and marketing campaign across the first world in the endeavour to get great shit made. But, can’t we all just get along? Surely some basic ground rules can bridge the great divide and turn this muckraking wrestling match into a candlelight dinner for two ending with only one stop on the cab ride home?

Suits and Creatives: two vital parts of a team necessary in the execution of kick arse messages of persuasion.

The name of the game is getting people to buy stuff - and in order for a creative output (ad, newsletter, article, brochure, video, email, infographic) to cut through the clutter, it better be good. Words need to be sharp as a whip. Design needs to awaken. Web and associated electronica need to be as connected as Kanye and as smooth as Pharrell.

The creative output also needs to align with business objectives, not piss off supporters and be created within with a budget. No one has a blank cheque for their marcoms (note: if someone tells you they do, you can be sure it’s a lie).

Pretty needs to work with pragmatic. Which can be problematic.

Great art isn’t designed by committee. It’s a product of the imagination, of artistic licence, of creative talent. It is not ruled by business strategy or corporate guidelines or customer sensitivities. (Which, let’s face it, are B-O-R-I-N-G!)

But, someone has to be the adult here. In the big world of business; brand, budget and the fear of people taking things the wrong way are legitimate concerns. Stick your fingers in your ears and sing la-la-la all you like, but these factors that govern marketing communications are not going away and nor should they.

Let’s get real, team. It’s not you, it’s us. When Suits and Creatives have a realistic understanding of one another’s perspective, working together is less of a pain in the arse.

Let's start with a few basics for the Suits to keep in mind:

  1. Work out your brief before you set Creatives to work. It will save you about two years of back and forth in edits and approvals (not to mention save you a lot in time and budget).
  2. If your attitudes is ‘I don’t know what I want but I’ll know it when I see it’ you deserve everything that comes your way.
  3. Don’t try to educate designers on fonts or writers on grammar. They know current trends and acceptable usage and you don’t. If you know better than them, you're working with the wrong professionals.
  4. Present the combined feedback from you and your fellow suits in one unified hit. It will ensure cohesion of message and save you about a thousand rounds of edits and two bottles of gin in frustration.
  5. Foster relationships and don’t be a dickhead. If you treat others as respected professional partners in a process as opposed to your scapegoat minions, you will get the best out of them faster. 

Hey Creatives - you've got some work to do too:

  1. From the outset, provide the campaign team with your timeline of events. Whenever someone fails to meet a deadline for whatever reason, update the timelime accordingly so everyone knows where they stand.
  2. That said, understand that Suits often have to deal with many more powers that be than you. When they throw the timeline out of wack, their hands are often tied. There’s only so much they can do to get the CEO to hurry the fuck up with sign off.
  3. You are a professional. It is your responsibility to guide Suits on ill-advised creative direction and decisions. If you want to make a career out of it, you better learn how to do this tactfully.
  4. But only attempt to enlighten Suits to a point. If you've stated your case and they still persist, let it go. Shut up and make the changes.
  5. Don’t get precious about changes to your work because – newsflash – it isn’t your work. You are being paid handsomely for that work to belong to someone else. If you can’t possibly bear for anyone to change what you have produced, you’re in the wrong game mate.
  6. Keep on trucking. When you think you’re spent and tapped out of ideas, log off, step away, do something else and soon enough there’ll be water in the well again. 

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