In a normal work environment, it can be very difficult to communicate and direct a creative project. You have to describe, in common language, how you want the work to feel, look, and sound. You can use too many words and over-share inspiration. Or, you can fall short of giving what’s needed by not sharing enough. Additionally, the required input changes with every team member, project, and client. It’s really like cooking. One small change can throw a good recipe off – making the end result disappointing. Mix in a global pandemic, and virtual work environments, and you’re cooking with one hand behind your back.
So, how can we get closer to better communication as we stay distant? Here are five tips that can serve as a starting point.
Learn enough to be dangerous.
Designers, writers, developers, art directors, photographers, and the like, are all experts in their field. And, for them to thrive, you have to understand a little about what they do. When you have a solid appreciation for what they are doing conceptually, mutual respect can be formed. And, when you understand how long it will take to be done correctly, accountability will be there. This is necessary for building trust.
Make some room.
When you provide a destination, your team members need the freedom to make decisions on the best way to get there. It’s not always perfect, but you cannot expect scientific results in an artistic endeavor. Projects sometimes go sideways. Work occasionally needs to be redone. And, mistakes will be made. But even those missteps can ultimately lead to a better place. You just have to trust the process. Establishing a presence as a helping hand and not a looming shadow will help your team thrive.
Be clear about expectations.
Most times, the deadline is the only thing that is non-negotiable. But, the very nature of the work is nearly impossible to accurately estimate before hand. The best way to keep accountability is to have a clear understanding of how all the parts work together as a whole. For instance; Your writing is needed for the website that serves as a hub for the digital ads that have yet to launch. Stewardship comes from being aware of the big picture.
Everyone is armed with a different arsenal of adjectives. Because of that, interpretation can be a dangerous thing. Level-setting on emotions and vibes can be a great way to find common ground with your internal teams, and ultimately the client. Creatives yearn to control the reaction of their audience. It leaves less room for disappointment or missing the mark. Should it be fun? Sarcastic? Uplifting? Sad? There are many forms that even the smallest headline can take. Be clear about the desired emotions first.
We’re all in the same boat.
Creatives always protect their ideas and their process. By using the insight into the strategy behind the campaign, the entire team is more likely to be solving the same problem, and helping each other to build the narrative to sell the work later on. Approach your creative team with suggestions, be open-minded to their input and new ideas, yet remain clear and firm about what the end results need to be.
Michael is the Creative Director and co-founder of FoxFuel Creative. He loves British music, vintage German cars, and American history, and his sarcasm knows no bounds. #DreamBig