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Strategic Creative 101: How to Align Your Creative Strategy with Business Goals


By: Matt Manderachi

For the creative-minded, there’s nothing better than sitting before your own blank canvas. It’s the ultimate symbol of possibility. You’re free to paint, write, or photograph anything you want. You’re limited only by the restrictions you impose on yourself.

However, things get a bit more complicated when there’s a client involved.

When you’re developing creative to solve a business objective, you’re doing more than creating art for art’s sake. You are creating art to achieve a specific goal, one that is often handed to you from the client and out of your control. It rings true for all forms of creative: design, copy, photography, and UI/UX.

Crafting a creative strategy that successfully negotiates the art, science, and business focus of this challenge is no small task. But your “blank canvas” needs to be filled, and a little strategic thinking and planning will help.

Follow these steps to make sure your creative strategy aligns with your clients’ business goals:

First, ask the right questions.

There are a number of factors to consider before launching a creative project. A single missing nut or bolt in your foundation, and the entire structure will likely fall apart.

Equip yourself with the proper information to start by asking these questions:

  • How will success of this project be measured?
  • What are our limitations? And, conversely, where are our opportunities?
  • Are there brand guidelines this project needs to align with?
  • Is this project a piece of a bigger campaign? Are there any other outside influences we need to consider?
  • Is this project a derivative of an existing project, with a pre-existing voice, look and feel? Or, is this an entirely new initiative?
  • Do I have the necessary resources to execute this creative project successfully?

Establishing this baseline framework is like gathering all of the supplies necessary for a painting. Without the canvas, brushes, or paint, you’re not going to get far. 

Second, move forward with purpose.

I have a confession. Before becoming a professional designer (and even early on in my career), I was guilty of a mistake made by many young creatives: I only cared about making things that looked cool.

Unforgivable, I know.

More specifically, my guilt stems from championing the aesthetic value of a creative project over everything else.

In the context of a marketing strategy, science will always drive design. A banner ad that is beautiful but does not attract clicks is useless. Copy that can inspire emotion but can’t also drive action won’t help you achieve your business goals.

Learning about user behavior and best practices largely comes with experience. Read up on the latest blogs from industry experts, seek advice from team members, and, most importantly, hold your client’s ultimate business objective close. It will keep you focused while developing and executing your creative strategy.

Third, get your work in front of people.  

Even a single creative asset, no matter how small, likely has several stakeholders invested in its success.

It’s for this reason and many more that I offer my biggest kernel of advice: Extend the creative process to all team members that can provide a unique perspective.

Opening up this line of communication within your project is critical. The opinions and expertise of team members from different departments will sharpen your creative project from every possible angle. It’s the best (and perhaps only) way to approach the delicate balance between opinion and best practice − between art and science.

Leave silos for the farm. There is no place for them when successfully executing a creative strategy.

Over to you. What are your biggest challenges when making sure your creative strategy is aligned with business goals? Drop us a line on Twitter @QuattroPhilly.

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