Creative Director Roles in an Agency

The creative manager’s role is very important and complex. Your typical creative manager is a true visionary, perfectionist, mentor, manager, and key client person all rolled into one! They create new approaches and perspectives, and with their tangible sense of creative direction, they are the epitome of trend visionaries.

roles and responsibilities of creative director

Creative Director Job Description

Creative managers not only select the best ideas from their team, but also bring valuable ideas to the table. With their vast experience in design and the creative process, they are likely to strike gold. Does a historical figure come to mind? Leonardo da Vinci would make a great Creative Manager, wouldn’t you say?

typical day of creative director

A Creative Director’s Duties and Typical Day

There is a fine line between creativity and control, and we all know that creative minds don't like limitations. As a creative team manager, you are well-familiar with the fact that creativity sells your products—convenient features, innovative solutions, catchy headlines, beautiful design, and so on. Creative work is much more complicated than just coming up with a brilliant idea, and the final result usually depends on how the entire process is organized.

Define the Big Picture

You can always work out the details later, but it's crucial to start with a broad idea and description. Your web developers, writers, or designers need to be involved in a project in its infancy. Creatives are the best people to determine realistic processes and deliverables. If you opt to provide them with prescriptive instructions, it will kill the innovation process.

Brief the Team

Your team members are the ones who will solve the problem. So, to help them find the best solution, you need to present the nature of such clearly. Work on all aspects and cover all the project elements, like inspirations, research, desired outcome, earlier campaigns, and target audience. When it comes to timing, try to avoid harsh deadlines. Talk to your team about the importance or urgency, and decide together on due dates.

Facilitate Innovations

To keep the creativity going around the office, you must ensure that your work environment encourages teamwork and boosts collective problem-solving. A productive company facilitates solo work, idea sharing, mood boards, and storyboarding. Also, don't neglect the influence of colors and natural light on the working space.

Set a Style Guide

Putting a reliable style guide in place will help ensure the brand's consistency across the web and all campaigns and help new team members adapt faster. Don't be too strict with the rules, but define the best practices such as titles, treatment of photography, colors, logos, typefaces, etc. This will significantly reduce the time on unnecessary edits.

Educate the Team

As a creative manager, it's your responsibility to educate other team members about your creative processes and roles. The support of your coworkers is crucial here. A better understanding of your position will lead to better cross-departmental communication and respective and cohesive company dynamics. Additionally, you will avoid dealing with unrealistic demands and requests, saving you a significant amount of time.

Provide Feedback

Even though creative freedom is imperative, at some point, your team will require guidance and feedback to accomplish the best results. Host frequent catch-ups to ensure everyone is on the same page and has realistic expectations. Each campaign demands some level of compromise. You might be settling for a less innovative project, expanding a budget, or pushing deadlines. This is particularly true for creative teams working in high-growth companies or startups where the budget is stretched and priorities change as we speak.

Trust Your Team

While you can manage budgets, timings, and other outputs, you can't dictate time. Don't engage in micromanagement, but delegate the tasks accordingly. Trust the talent and ability of your coworkers. Sometimes, the most challenging part is learning the art of surrender and letting go of control while relying on your team's superior knowledge. Don't hesitate, do it! You will see results immediately, as the quality of work will increase, as well as your working relationship.

Average Salary

According to Glassdoor, a Creative Manager earns roughly around 100,000 USD annually. Many people mistake the role of a creative director for that of an art director. Find out the main differences between these two roles and their individual perks!

Creative Director $99,999 $92,084
Art Director $66,582 $72,349
Creative Manager $69,368 $72,027

How To Become a Creative Director: Get Started

A creative manager might hold a degree in marketing, graphic design, or fine arts, but most importantly, they have the experience of being creatives themselves. They help out the team with their guidance and ideas, and at the end of the day, their role is to manage the creative process of a team and approve all the drafts for social media, marketing campaigns, and media advertising. If you have outstanding communication skills, are a seasoned creative, and have top-notch problem-solving skills - this might be the next step in your career!

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creative director career path

Creative Director Skills and Tools

As a person in charge, you need to be involved in every step of the process to track your team's progress, but at the same time, efficiently detached to let them work freely and independently. You should be motivated, a great communicator, and a highly organized person.

Creative managers will benefit from communication tools such as Zoom, Google Meet, and Slack to keep in touch with their teams and clients. Since they manage a team to plan and schedule meetings, they might use various reminders and calendars to view all events, such as Google Calendar.

No micromanagement — The best way to keep your creatives is to provide a general roadmap and let them figure out how they want to travel it but develop a style parameter: technical specifications, deadline policies, and style guides. Bare in mind that constant oversights and check-ins can be bothersome. Let your team enjoy its creative process.
Minimize administration — They might occasionally estimate time remaining on specific tasks, record time, attend status update meetings, or generate reports, but that's not the primary line of work they should be dealing with. Keep your team members focused on tasks where they will show their creativity and productivity. Tools that are most useful for creative managers are project management tools like ActiveCollab, so they can keep track of their team and projects.
Teach problem-solving methods — Try to explain techniques such as human-centered design, mind mapping, lateral thinking, and brainstorming.
Allow new ideas — Avoid unreasonable deadlines and strict schedules. Instead, focus on time-bound milestones for the end of each project phase.
Encourage open communication — Ask your team to communicate with each other openly; don't make them dependent on you. Dropbox and Google Drive are frequently used to share ideas and designs with the team and clients.
Allow interdisciplinary collaboration — You should promote cross-fertilization across all disciplines, for instance, marketing, business, design, support, quality, etc.
Approve failures — Create an environment where mistakes and failures are part of the creative process and a new learning opportunity.

What Is a Creative Director?

Creative directors are leaders and leading creatives is not the same as managing them. To properly lead your creative team, you have to be influential but not intrusive. Leadership has to be apparent - management has to be done incognito.

Creatives (usually) aren’t leaders - They require guidance and thrive by having a “leadership pillar” to lean on. There are rare cases when your top creative can become a leader and take on a managerial position. You must ask yourself if want my top creative person to focus organizational issues or on what they do best.

hiring a creative director

Hiring a Creative Director

The creative manager is a seasoned creative with tons of ideas and experience. They make a perfect mentor for other creative professionals, but they are also there to point them in the right direction and motivate them. As true mentors, they teach their team how to question everything: designs, goals, and approaches. After all, they are managers, so their role is to guide the team in the right direction, keep up the morale, and praise the team for a job well done. Make sure you hire a responsible and patient person who will be able to perform all these tasks.

Setting goals, time estimates, sharing information, and distributing tasks across the creative team - are a creative manager’s main responsibilities. We already said that they are the mentors, the ones who pick out the best approaches, but they also set goals, manage resources, track team performance, and shoulder the massive responsibility of making sure no one burns out or has boring projects all the time.

Tight deadlines can make the creative process very stressful. The secret lies in balancing the tasks in the team and making work fun for everyone involved. Creative people won’t put up with mundane tasks, plus such tasks can slow the team down. A wise creative manager won’t let that happen.

Sometimes understanding the client’s request is the most difficult aspect of this role. You know when the client says: “Can you make the logo pop?” But a Creative Manager will know exactly what they mean. A creative manager is not just in charge of the creative team. They are the first point of contact with clients and the ones who will communicate design solutions to the client. If you want to extract valuable feedback from your clients, leave it to the creative manager. They know what questions to ask and understand the “client talk.”

CONTINUE READING Life in an Agency: Agency Roles and Responsibilities

When we talk about roles in an agency, we're actually discussing types of jobs. In a chaotic environment where clients are gods and deadlines are doomsdays, the lines between these jobs become blurred.

Well-organized teams are more productive