Communicating with Creatives

By nature of the industry, advertising and marketing agencies are filled with creative and artistic thinkers. While creative professionals often have a reputation for being imaginative and talented, business professionals occasionally express a gap between what they expected from a creative agency, and what an end deliverable looks like.

When this happens, there is potential for the client/agency partnership to move in one of two directions. Either both parties collaborate to resolve the disconnect resulting in high satisfaction, or the finger-pointing games begin. In the second scenario, a client may blame the agency for not delivering a suitable outcome, and the agency may fault the client for not clearly articulating what they want.

Communication is key in deciding the outcome of this critical situation. Below are a few ways to communicate with graphic and UI/UX designers, photo/videographers, etc. effectively avoiding discontent with a deliverable.

Be explicit – avoid using subjective terms that mean different things to different people. This is an easy trap for clients to fall into because art and design is usually talked about with words that express feelings and emotions. Avoid saying things like, “I want the website to feel more ‘bubbly’” and instead say, “I want brighter colors and larger text-size.”

Use examples – a creative team will always welcome a conversation that revolves around another design piece used for reference. It is most helpful when a client points out which specific aspects of the material they like and why.

Talk about demographics – convey a sense of style to the creative team by describing the kind of person that will be viewing and acting on the marketing material. The more detail a team has about a potential audience, the more likely they are to match the clients’ vision.

Have fun – the client is the one in the driver seat during the creative, explorative process. If budget allows, ask for an “outside-the-box” concept or two and see if any aspects of that outcome resonate.

Ensuring success of a design project is the responsibility of both designers and clients. A good design team will ask lots of questions, partnering with their client to guide them. Although time consuming up front, it saves on multiple revisions and iterations down the line.

Interested to hear from readers about this subject. Please reach out with questions or comments via LinkedIn today.


Lee Sumner, Sr. Research Manager