Creative can Push Boundaries - for Clients and Agencies

Posted by Garfield

Introducing the “Getting Real with Garfield Group” Series. We took to our employees - the experts on the frontlines of our agency - to see how they really feel about some pressing issues in our respective lines of work. This series of blog posts offers our readers a deeper look into the minds of the Garfield Group team to understand how we approach our day-to-day work while learning about our overall approach to strategy and company culture.

By Megan Caputa and Mike St. Martine

Creative work is subjective. Some people love bold colors and sharp edges while others prefer a soft, neutral look. That’s the nature of the profession. Comfort zones also fall into this subjective category - some clients want to make strong, daring creative statements while others favor abiding by a tried-and-true approach. Creatives must respect these boundaries and produce work which reflects a brand’s identity and personality, but they also need to recognize opportunities to blaze the trail.

These chances present themselves more often than you may think.

We work in a tight-knit agency which allows our creative department - including the copywriting team - to hunker down, dig in and rack our brains after receiving a brief from the account team. Often times we find ourselves translating the brief into a creative vision. How can we tell this story visually and compliment the message we need to tell? Which graphics embody the brand, and how does style play into it? More importantly, do we think we can live on the edge - even if only a little?

The last question presents one of the most critical aspects of impactful creative work, and crossing boundaries in our industry occurs in many forms. Consider imagery - just one element of the larger creative picture. Some advertisements, campaigns and websites rely heavily on imagery consisting of purchased stock photos. In a business-to-business environment, stock photography can play an even larger role since packaging and product shots may not be realistic. Though breaking free of the stock-photo-silo can prove difficult, it can also bring new life to a brand. As creatives, we’ve identified strategies to move beyond the dependence upon stock photography by featuring graphically-designed content in the mix, sharing images of client workspaces or their teams and, whenever possible, hosting our own photo shoots to capture brand elements through a new lens (pun intended).

Of course, pushing the envelope can often be easier said than done. Some campaigns and clients feel too comfortable to break down walls, but others work in highly-regulated or competitive markets which require them to stick to the status quo. This puts the creative eye to the test and, at times, may challenge the agency as a whole to develop a strategy to counsel a client to make a move outside of familiar territory in order to achieve the greatest success possible.

One of the best ways to achieve this remains to infuse individual campaigns or projects with new creative. Pushing boundaries on every project - whether a logo design or a rebrand - helps expose clients to new ways of thinking about their brands and demonstrates your team’s commitment to creative expression. If a client dives into a campaign to promote a new tradeshow or service, for example, step outside the lines and incorporate some expansions of the brand through new approaches or designs. Approaching one opportunity with risky creative can demonstrate to a client how such an approach can disperse throughout their brand’s creative blueprint.

This gradual injection of new creative elements makes the most difference, and results in faster, more widespread acceptance, when a consumer engages with and positively responds to the end product. Of course, it always feels exciting and encouraging when a client applauds creative iterations, but acceptance and enthusiasm from their target audience - their consumer - following a bold, sometimes audacious campaign allows creatives and their agencies to get the ball rolling toward new ideas and elements of a brand’s expression.

Pushing client and agency boundaries to explore more creative designs and approaches can vary in extremes. A simple test of a new typeface or. color may make all the difference, but knowing how and when to take these risks remains a critical skill for a creative professional. This knack for identifying and successfully taking these chances can separate the good creatives from the great - reflecting similarly on agencies - and launch good campaigns to great.