What to look for when selecting a Creative Partner

September 2, 2020
Insight

It hits you. Your logo is dated. Your brand is not connecting to you customer base. Your website is not converting the way you need. Or you are having some serious issues with your email marketing. You don’t have an in-house team or this can of worms is beyond their capacity. You need help. It’s time to bring in an expert or experts to take this burden off of your hands.

You need to hire a communication, branding, advertising, design or marketing company. For the sake of this article, let’s call them creative partners. If they are good, no matter what they do or how they do it, their service will require creativity and collaboration from you.

The process to hire a creative partner can be overwhelming. Where to start? What is right for you? Each company specializes in one or multiple disciplines and each have varying sets of capabilities. What you have to ask yourself is, “Is this right for my goals or my project?” When interviewing a creative partner, here are a few criteria to evaluate during your process.

Experience

What have they done? Are you impressed? Do you believe they can accomplish the goal? It can be as simple as that. If they have formed a career that’s built the portfolio and expertise that you need for the job, then they could bee the person or team your are looking for. Are they knowledgeable of their product or of your product? Do they have a point-of-view that’s unique or gives you confidence that they’ll solve your problem? Great.

Personality

A creative company can be one person or a group of people. You will be working with them on a project or projects, potentially, for months. Simple put, do you get along? Can you be in the same room or phone call together? Do joke or know when the other is being lighthearted? Do you see eye-to-eye? Do they seem passionate? Are you working with creatives that put the product over the process or understand that the process creates the product?  When developing a working relationship those that to get along, get where they are going faster and farther.

Creative Process

The creative process is generally similar from place to place; Discover, Create, Refine and Implement, yet how each shop handles each phases of the process is what you should look into because that is what you are investing in. In short, the Discovery Phase can include defining the scope of the project, creating a project brief, and researching the client, the industry and any further information. The Create and Refine Phases are when the magic happens. It’s creating the concepts and the deliverables that to exemplify the objectives of the brief. It is also when the creative team refines those concepts from feedback to strengthen the work. All projects progress to the Implementation Phase, which is delivering the work and getting it into the real world. How the work is delivered can vary and depends on the needs of the project. At this point in the project there should be no surprises. Release it into the world and watch your results, maybe you’ll go viral.

The things to learn and understand are how the company defines the scope of the project, creates project briefs or conducts research. How does the creative company describes their process and how it will execute the brief’s objectives? Does the company offer a range of directions vs. merely one solution?  It is the how of these phases are conducted that separates each company.

Craftsmanship

Having good craftsmanship is the key to any professional. Every industry has craftsmanship whether they call it that or not. This is the physical result of their work. The quality may be high. It may be low. Think about the difference between two chefs on a cooking show. One chef may be efficient with his/her time, can cut and proportion the ingredients superbly and plate the dish well. Whereas the other chef may forget to turn on the stove, use unsharpened knives or use a pot that is too small for the ingredients. What a mess.

For the creative industry this is a difficult thing to notice if you don’t know what to look for. When something is crafted well you shouldn’t even notice; it’s flawless. Yet if you do notice, the effects can be subtle or grand. It might be that a file wasn’t converted correctly and now your colors  are wrong. Or a document was created incorrectly and that image is blurry or pixelated. Or a word is misspelleddd.

Results

Let’s face it, the creative industry looks fun and it is. But none of the hard work, big ideas and awesome executions matter if they don’t change minds or perceptions, educate people, make people feel, spend money or click where you want them to click. The results matter. Remember the results are not always quantifiable yet working with a creative partner that understands the importance of results is a good start in the right direction.

This criteria should get you to have a better understanding of who you are talking to. And be aware, no two companies are the same. They are made of different people with different skill sets and different philosophies on how to get it done.