Among the giant list of people working in the creative industry, is a person who plays the role of a creative director. So who is a creative director and what does he/she do?
Creative directors play an essential role in the marketing, creative, communications and digital departments. They are responsible for leading their team, developing creative guidelines and directing creative work, including print collateral, websites, email campaigns, television and radio advertising, and many related tasks. These professionals often report directly to CMOs and other directors, and they rely on extensive experience and professional judgment to plan and executive projects.
Creative directors also must be great leaders with the ability to maximize the talents of their teams. Doing so means being a coach, a teacher, an instructor, and a critic all at once. Creative directors work with copywriters, graphic designers, web designers, account managers, brand managers and other marketers on a daily basis.
A creative director is a person with multiple skills and or talents that cater to the needs of the creative industry. Here’s a skill set that is generally required to be a creative director.
- An intimate understanding of design, copy and web best practices/guidelines.
- Experience with a variety of software, including Photoshop, Illustrator, After Effects, etc.
- Excellent leadership skills.
- Excellent communication skills.
- A strong understanding of brand development and multichannel marketing concepts.
- Comfort interacting with clients and internal staff alike.
- Strong persuasive skills.
Creative directors hail from all backgrounds, with degrees in art, graphic design, marketing, communications, journalism and other fields. However, more important than a degree is a foundation of hands-on, applicable experience.
Types of Creative Directors
Creative directors work in one of two environments — as an in-house professional or as a team member in an agency.
In-House Creative Director
An in-house creative director works within an organization’s marketing or creative department. They are the head honcho in charge of all creative elements and report directly to the CMO. Creative directors have a high profile within their company, and often receive accolades for successful projects. That can be both good and bad — your great work will be celebrated, but you also need to produce consistently brilliant work while relying on others to make it happen.
Companies employ in-house creative directors when they want greater control over the look, feel and execution of their marketing campaigns. They want to be able to tap in to the creative director’s ideas whenever necessary to implement new campaigns and stay nimble in the face of new technology and new competitors.
Agency Creative Director
As a creative director in an agency, you will be in charge of a large team of skilled and dedicated marketers. But your clients will be dedicated to their own industries and interests. As a result, you need to be an expert not only on the creative process, but in selling your ideas and concepts to customers. Like their in-house counterparts, creative directors in agencies have high-profile positions as well as the pressure that comes along with it.
As a creative director, the bane of your existence will most probably be the people you will work with. Most of the time, your ideas will be brushed off and replaced with ones that break the laws of design, color psychology, standards and etc.