Creative needs to pay for itself - Fabric Digital
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Creative needs to pay for itself Fabric

Creative needs to pay for itself

15th Nov // 2013

Jack Carpenter:
By Jack Carpenter

So my first blog posting for Fabric Digital and what subject do I choose - creativity and the skeleton in the cupboard that is monetising creative.

It's almost a dirty concept to most designers or trendy design agencies but creativity costs money so should therefore make money - very simple when you think about it.

We live in a creative society at present where cool, contemporary and trendy are the currencies we put our stock in and for a designer: being short listed for an award is the peak of their professional year. The kudos at being selected from a mass of talented peers and luminaries lights up their world and validates their place at the forefront of the design community.

Now, winning awards is all well and good and an accolade that should not be dumbed down or taken lightly. But does it earn a return on that creative? You could argue that the prestige and PR around an award win can generate additional interest in your services or brand and this can translate to additional work. The problem comes that if you get additional work but still don't understand how to effectively monetise creative, you are compounding a hidden issue rather than addressing it.

The way I approach my creative is as follows. Assuming I've done the Q&A and due-diligence with client 'X' and established what their needs, desires and preferred treatments are, I will then take a step back and examine the financial model we're working to. I will look at their budget and then assign a set amount of time to deliver that creative. No creative likes to work to the clock and I quite often hear 'You can't put a time limit on good creativity or artistry'.

But you can and you should.

Your employer pays your wage as a talented designer and this wage has to be accounted for within the incoming profits from projects. If you disappear into an ivory tower of 'it takes as long as it takes' then time scales start to elongate and slip, feature creeping becomes an issue and ultimately, profits will go drop on any given project. It's not just the cost of your time as a creative against that particular project. It's the opportunity cost to the agency of you working on new pitches and projects.

Creativity is a dark art and cannot be as time regulated as some more process driven tasks, but creatives need to start understanding that their time is a premium that comes at a cost to their agency.

The other aspect to this is the final piece of work presented to the client. Clients will in the main be guided by the ideas and concepts from a good creative. They will have their own ideas but are usually willing to bow to the superior knowledge and talent of a good creative - assuming a compelling proposition is presented to them and fully explained.
“Too contemporary”

Creatives have been guilty in the past of doing something way too contemporary for a great number of clients and selling a concept that their peers will enjoy but ultimately isn't fit for the clients brand, industry or needs.

These clients take these oh so trendy designs and then launch them into their market with great anticipation, only to find out that the response isn't what they were expecting and is often more lukewarm than they had been promised.

'Not my problem' cries the creative responsible. 'It is a great design and it's not my fault their brand is stuck in the 70's'. This is simply not good enough.

Creatives have a duty to design something that is appropriate to the client's needs no matter how mundane their brand may appear to the creative world. Good creative and good design fit the needs of the client and their industry perfectly and will therefore be received well and prove successful for that client, and then they'll come back again with future work.

Not rocket science but again, creatives need to understand the commercial factors that their creative decisions influence and be mindful of the overriding goal (making money) when implementing a new piece of creative genius.

I know of a few very large agencies who don't necessarily work on ground breaking designs every day of the week, but they do have a lot of repeat business from clients with deep pockets and quite 'safe' brands. But guess what? Those agencies make great money, the staff are well paid and they continue to grow.

It would be great if every brief was to design the next Audi TT or refurbish an Apple store but this isn't the case. Look at each project from a costing and profit perspective even on the creative side and you'll find that making money from creativity is not as alien or hard as it may seem.

Penned by Jack Carpenter in UX Design Creative Design