One of the biggest, often overlooked, drivers for creating meaningful and highly creative work is the collaborators you choose to work with. And by collaborators, I mean clients. We’ve long held the belief that the most ambitious clients are the sponsors of the best commercial projects.
It’s great to chase brands you’d love to work with. Who wouldn’t want to partner with Netflix, Nike, or Apple? However, when you do land a big one, it’s actually the drive, vision, and creative intelligence of the client team you directly work with that has the biggest effect on how things turn out.
When we look at engaging with clients, we consider several things. To find a mutual perspective — the outlook our client and we should share.
You have to share similar values
Without belief in your work, a project becomes empty. Soulless. You have to find clients who share your view of the world. You don’t always have to agree on the details, but if your underlying cultural, creative, and moral philosophy don’t overlap, your ambition will never be satisfied.
Find a creative leader
It is easy to believe that the creative agency should be the inspirational part of the team. That definitely helps – but it’s also essential to actively seek out ambitious and inspiring leaders from the client side that will challenge you to be better. The bolder the client, the bolder the work you will be able to produce.
Put value in pushing creative boundaries
Somewhere between evolution and revolution sits the perfect project. The closer this is to revolution determines how much you can change a brand with the work you create. So the more ambitious the remit, the more likely you are to have the opportunity to have a more significant effect.
Agreeing what success looks like
To achieve any bold ambition, clarity of the goal is vital. This is another trait of strong leadership from the client: a crystal clear sense of what winning looks like. From this vision, you can better understand what is demanded of you – and raise your game accordingly.
Don’t talk collaboration; do it
It is easy to pay lip service to working together. Particularly early in a project. However, genuinely engaging the client team throughout a project requires effort. It is not enough to hold meetings; it involves a set of adaptable methods designed to create meaningful involvement. Brand trusts, change groups, sprint sessions and ideation workshops all operating with participation. These collaborations need to be framed as a safe space to test assumptions, debate and take people on a journey.
Without honesty and transparency, it won’t work
To deliver the best work, you must be willing to share information when it is sometimes uncomfortable to do so. To be open about potential weaknesses and then build an approach to find solutions together.
Learn to be flexible
No extensive brand change program is perfect. Nor is the process to deliver it. If you’re too rigid in your mindset or surprised things have changed, then the creativity will be hampered. Favouring an adaptive and flexible attitude helps focus your energy and the ability to positive.
Always commit
Brand projects are a great responsibility to both client and agency. When you’re engaged, it is a personal commitment to the team that hired you. So when you’re in, you need to be in 100%. Anything less won’t be enough.
By aligning with the right type of client and being clear where your value to them sits promotes better work. If you’re willing to seek out greater ambition and build your approach to deliver against this, your work will be elevated again.
The great client partners allow you to push your work. So that’s what we look for on projects — the people, not just the brands.