3 Communication Principles to Help Your Creatives Win.

The 16th round of revisions comes and goes with no end in sight.

Your designer has a glazed look in her eye, and you stare out the window, searching for the right combination of words to inspire a miracle. In the distance, stakeholders are closing in for the kill with another email about the deadline you sailed by.

Abandon all hope, ye who enter.

Sound vaguely familiar? If you lead or work with creatives, you know the process is messy. There are principles, sure, but nothing is black and white. Great creatives can navigate this land of ambiguity quite comfortably — but where they end up may not be where you want to go if you have a communication disconnect.

Here are 3 principles to help you and your team get on the same page.

Give Insights, Not Info

Creative briefs are notorious for being anything but brief. Pages of consumer and product research can lead to misinterpretations and unfocused ideas. As a leader, you’re the one who can best connect the dots between the stakeholder’s knowledge and your team’s needs.

Work with relevant parties to turn raw data into refined direction. When you give your team strategic insight, you’re giving them more room to do what they do best. Contrary to popular belief, a bigger box rarely leads to better ideas. If you find that auxiliary information is still helpful to the process — consider creating a library separate of the brief.

Decide On Common Language

If you’re in the business of communication, nothing is “just” semantics, especially as creative teams become more remote. Creating a common language means clear expectations. No more “I didn’t realize you were asking for the final-final.”

This language should cover everything from project management to brand deployment. Involving your entire team to build it will create a sense of ownership. Revisit often to make sure it’s still helpful and document everything so that your growing team is always up to speed.

Lead With Candor

Avoiding conflict is a sure-fire way to produce shitty work. Speedy and direct communication allows your team to make rapid iterations. It also removes the guesswork that leads to multiple revision nightmares. However, direct feedback can bring out defensiveness. Creatives are even more susceptible given the subjective nature of their work.

It’s best to set boundaries and expectations about this culture of candor. There need to be safe zones for your team to explore without fear of criticism. Invest time and money in building trust with your team. This way, when you need to move fast, there’s already a mutual understanding that direct doesn’t equal negativity or frustration.

So there you are, staring out the window. Your designer shifts in her chair uncomfortably. You’re searching for that perfect combination of words that will unlock the idea you need…

The problem isn’t going to solve itself. In these moments, the first question you should ask is if you missed an opportunity to clearly share the vision and expectations. The good news is, it’s never too late to start. If you’re willing to dig a little deeper and communicate intentionally, you can inspire your team to do their best work on a consistent basis.