A 30-year veteran’s perspective
What is your impression of people working in creative agencies? For many, the mention of creative agencies calls to mind — tattoos, piercings, black clothes, coloured hair, loud personalities and cool attitudes that go along with too much booze and messed-up personal lives.
This impression cannot be further from the reality. Being in business for 30 years now, the number of creatives, writers and suits who actually fits the above description is few and far between. If common perceptions are false, then what would be an accurate reflection of what goes on in a creative agency?
We have a few answers to that.
We care more than we let on.
Yes. We care. We care whether you like our ideas, the visuals we put up, the copy we have written — and us. It hurts to know that you don’t. That is why it is not unusual for the creatives, writers and suits to attempt to put up strong fronts by being loud, or in other instances nonchalant attitudes as if we cannot care less.
The truth — every time we put forth an idea or present our copy and visuals, we have either spent time researching, thinking and rethinking the concept, or poured our hearts and souls into piecing together the visuals and copy from scratch. Therefore, if you are not impressed with our final concept, copy or visuals, it is not because we haven’t invested our efforts or that we had wanted to disappoint you. More likely, we had missed the point of what is important to you.
How about giving us a second chance? Brief us again. Guide us so that we see the vision you see. We want that second chance because we really care. We care about the project and want to do a good job for it. And, believe it or not, we care about you. We care that we have let you down, and we want a chance to make it up to you.
Money is not always everything to us.
Make no mistake. Money is as important to a creative agency as it is to any other business out there. We have to make money so that we can pay our creatives, writers, suits and vendors on time. We want to make money so that we know that we are genuinely creating value that is appreciated.
But however important money is, it is not the end for us. It is the means to an end. It is recognition that suggests that we have delivered on our promise to you. While this recognition is not quite like the awards that we win, it comes closer than you think.
Strangely enough, we also sometimes equate the amount of money that you offer to pay for our time as the amount of respect you have for our profession and us as individuals. Hence, we are not trying to be unhelpful when we request to be paid for favours you request for. We are just hoping clients respect that time is money and possibly opportunity costs for us.
On a case-to-case basis, it is not unusual for agencies to agree to offer free favours. Because more important than money to us, is our relationship with you. If you are a nice client or a friend, there is a good chance we will want to delight you — and do you that simple favour (as long as it doesn’t jeopardise our paycheck at the end of the month). So it helps for you to be nice and friendly with us. You never know how we will return that favour some day.
We want to be on the same page with you.
Competition is tough out there, and if we are already enjoying our shared chemistry, it is almost a given that we will pull out all stops to stay on the same page with you. That includes giving you our best ideas so that you can do your job well and look good in front of your bosses.
All said, it takes two hands to clap. We need you to see us as your partner-in-crime. Trust us to do our job and keep your secrets safe. And yes, you don’t have to tell us that “we leave it to your professionalism” to remind us to be professional. Because you can rest assured we have a common goal — successful project outcomes that will not only make our agency look good to you, but also add to your credit.
We are more detail-oriented than you think.
You can take our word for it when we say that we fuss over details. Whether it is colours, font sizes, font types, spacing, balance, there is a good chance that we have tried out different permutations before deciding that these are visually optimal. Therefore, short of telling you the full low-down of what we did to colour correct that picture or the amount of time we took to search for suitable picture and graphics, we have definitely taken care to make sure every detail is perfect.
However, please pardon us for placing the wrong emphasis on contents we did not originate. We did not miss that because we were careless. We got that wrong because we did not understand the intent of the contents. Maybe you can help us out next time with clear document mark-ups. Otherwise, we will be happy to have you walk us through the document and share your intent for the different parts too.
Designing and drawing are two different skills.
The only similarity between “designing” and “drawing” is that they both start with “d”. Many people think that all designers can draw very well without realising that the tools designers and artists use are different. The former clicks with a mouse while the latter draws with a pen (or stylus).
It is true that some designers also have a love for drawing and are therefore great at it. But it is actually more common to find designers who have mediocre drawing skills — like you and I.
Hence, a creative agency that does not have illustration capabilities doesn’t make it less creative, although an agency with illustration capabilities would have an added edge when it comes to expressing their concepts in different ways. So if you happen to find a creative agency with a talent for both drawing and designing, you will do well to keep them.
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