Imagine owning a boat. You might picture yourself at the helm, cocktail in hand as the sun sets under a beautiful horizon. Then you actually buy the boat, and the reality is quite different from your sunset-quenched daydreams.
You realize that you can’t enjoy that mojito because you have to drive the thing back to the marina. You can’t enjoy that sunset either because you’re worried about scraping the bottom of the boat and hosing it down before midnight.
You need a captain. Someone who can drive, who can organize the cleaning, someone who lifts the load off of your shoulders.
Creative directors are like that boat captain, except for your design and marketing projects. Instead of spending your working hours searching high and low for creatives, instead of pulling your hair out at the roots because of the intricacies of managing a large project, having a creative director steering your ship saves you tons of time and money.
They give you a compass when the creative process is hard to navigate.
A detailed creative director job description.
Creative directors manage your project from brief to finish. Think of them as the perfect hybrid of project manager, art director, and marketer. Having advanced visual design skills is a must and applying them to different areas and industries is just another part of the job.
They have to have strong management skills and be more organized than the average person while still being people-centric. A typical project manned by a creative director would look like this:
Let’s say, for example, that you have a really awesome ad campaign idea, but the nuts and bolts are much more complicated than your in-house team members can handle. You decide to consult with a creative director.
First Call: Your creative director asks you the right questions about your project to understand the main goal and how to come up with solutions for the really complicated moving parts.
Behind the scenes: Your creative director puts together a team of creatives who specialize in copywriting, animation, illustration, etc. Together, they create comprehensive project briefs that put your best ideas in one place.
After your approval: Your creative director establishes timelines and milestones based on your project deadline and your budget. They also listen to your needs and interpret them into actionable outcomes. Oh yeah, and they manage the creative team so that you don’t have to.
In the end, you are left with a communicative captain who checks in with you regularly and delivers on your best ideas, on-time and on budget.
What it takes to become a creative director.
Creative directors don’t just happen overnight. In order to manage these projects and manage teams of creatives, they have to have a whole lot of experience under their belt. Natural-born leadership aside, they are the decision-maker, mentor, and sometimes even teachers for their team.
You will find that the majority of creative directors have a background in fine arts and usually have a bachelor’s degree or higher in a specific design specialty, like graphic design. Many of them start their careers in entry-level jobs at advertising agencies, design services, or brands.
Ideally, creative directors should have many years of experience working in different industry verticals. This ensures that they are well-rounded and can deliver on a variety of projects no matter what their creative role is in the process.
They should have project management experience and the creative vision it takes to carry projects through to the finish line. They are like your brand’s chief creative officers, even if you are in healthcare, a traditionally non-creative field.
Why you need a creative director in 2023.
Creative directors do a lot more than just manage creatives. They talk to stakeholders, guide creatives, and navigate your project from start to deliverable. The cool part is that because of their experience, they may introduce a new concept or interesting idea well before you’ve even thought of it.
Companies face similar challenges when trying to stay relevant and competitive, no matter what industry you are in. In an oversaturated market, there is no shortage of companies for consumers to choose from. Creative directors can be that creative edge that you need to stay consistently relevant.
They’re worth their weight in gold, maybe double their weight in gold.
The best part of this for you as a busy marketer is that you won’t have to spend countless hours spell-checking, measuring margins, or navigating the creative hiring process. Creative directors work to present you with a polished final draft, ready for your review, and always on time.
This is where that decades-long experience really shows. What they deliver is just the tip of the iceberg; from their deep understanding of brand personas to their imagination in creative problem solving, every facet of their background is used when directing.
Where to hire a creative director.
Hiring an in-house creative director is no longer the only option for companies that want to solidify and amplify their visual identity.
After the pandemic, many companies realized that although creative direction is a very visual and hands-on job, new technological innovations like miro, for example, made it possible for directors to work remotely. Now, creative directors can be hired either through a creative agency, a design service, or as freelancers.
Companies can get the best of all worlds without having to invest in a salaried full-time employee. Hiring a creative director is as easy as working with the right design service or knowing where to look.
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Buy the boat.
Don’t be afraid to embark on that creative journey. As long as you have a great captain steering the ship, you can trust that you’ll be able to enjoy the ride without sinking.
Are you ready to set sail on that new marketing campaign?