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About this book

Learn the skills you must master to assume leadership roles—creative directors, art directors, and advertising managers—on creative teams and in integrated branding campaigns for corporate clients. This book compares and contrasts the skill sets and responsibilities of creatives with those of managers who direct creative teams. Technical competence in the creative arts is a necessary but not sufficient prerequisite for promotion to and success in positions directing creative teams. Business, management, and communication skills are equally necessary.

Leading Creative Teams reviews the business metrics that the manager of a creative team must be able to manipulate and present persuasively to the organization to prove that the team’s creative excellence delivers superior ROI. Award-winning designer and veteran creative director Eleazar Hernández walks you through the creative manager’s skill sets—technical, business, management, and communication. He covers the techniques and tools common to the direction of creative teams in all industries: brainstorming, creative exploration and visual communication tools, internal and client presentations, critiquing, mentoring, and copywriting.

Hernández shows how creative directors can apply management and leadership skill sets to different kinds of creative teams found across interactive, graphic design and advertising industries and how they orchestrate methods among team members. He details how creative teams vary in their concepts and principles, composition, objectives, and processes according to their specific industries and project requirements. And he shows you how to shape your career trajectories toward creative management roles in your chosen field.

Leading Creative Teams features information on the processes and best practices for ideating, developing, and directing advertising campaigns, graphic design projects, :30 TV spot and :30 radio spots. Drawing on interviews with top creative directors, art directors, and advertising managers, the author explores how the roles of creative team managers are evolving in response to changing technologies and business models.

What You'll Learn

Learn the technical, business, and management skill sets of creative managementLead and orchestrate teams of creativesDiscover tips, tricks, and techniques for creative direction of web, broadcast, and print projectsShape your career trajectory toward creative managementLearn the dos and don’ts of creative presentationsWho This Book Is For

Mid-level and junior creatives—graphic designers, web designers, copywriters, and artists—and ad students who seek information on the specific skills, experience, and credentials they need to qualify for promotion to creative management. The secondary readership is creative directors, art directors, and advertising managers who lead web interactive, design, and advertising creative teams and who develop and direct integrated branding campaigns for corporate clients.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Start with a Blank Piece of Paper

In the beginning…
Abstract
Let’s not beat around the bush: CDs need great taste and excellent judgment. More than just making the work look good, they must also have a sense of what it takes to connect with the audience. They need to know how far to push an idea while remaining relevant. A great CD can add to his team’s ideas to move them from good to great.
Eleazar Hernández

Chapter 2. Leading a Creative Team

Why do some creatives make it to the top?
Abstract
Don’t get hung up on the titles presented in this book. Titles vary from agency to agency, studio to studio, or in-house department to in-house department. In some places a creative director will accomplish the same tasks as a senior art director and vice versa. You will find that responsibilities and titles are somewhat interchangeable based on the size of the company you’re working for and the type of work they do.
Eleazar Hernández

Chapter 3. Leading an Advertising Creative Team

Where are all the Mad Men and Women at?
Abstract
A creative team in the field of advertising consists of the people who actually work to create the idea or concept that attempts to satisfy the communication challenges faced by their clients. The team has two specialties: art and copy. Advertising agencies generally refer to their resident experts in the visual and verbal as their “creative team.”
Eleazar Hernández

Chapter 4. Leading a Design Creative Team

Fighting the war against visual corruption
Abstract
Running a design team in a studio is similar to running an advertising agency creative team with several exceptions. For large studios, you will most likely have account executives to act as a buffer between the creatives and clients. At small studios, chances are the creatives deal directly with clients. In both configurations, you will still be leading your team to ideate and produce work that solves communication challenges that your client is experiencing. However, there is a difference. While an ad agency creative team is addressing communications challenges with solutions that include TV or radio spots, out-of-home tactics, and print campaigns, design studios deal with visual challenges in ways that require visual solutions in the form of visual identities, environmental design, package design, websites, and so on.
Eleazar Hernández

Chapter 5. Brainstorming

Where do all those crazy ideas come from?
Abstract
You’ve got the creative brief that outlines the parameters of the job. You’ve done some preliminary research to help wrap your head around your assignment, and you’ve checked out what other people have done on the subject. Now after all of this information gathering, you’ve got lots of random thoughts and ideas rolling around in your head. Slowly, your brain begins to make connections. You’re out getting your 3:00 p.m. wake-me-up coffee and the shape of the foam on your skinny vanilla latte inspires a visual treatment. You’re eating lunch with coworkers at a local bistro and hear a song that makes you think of headlines. The initial information has been processed in your mind and is being transformed into different forms. Images begin to form. Words and messaging come together. It’s time to brainstorm.
Eleazar Hernández

Chapter 6. Creative Exploration Tools

Sketching and Thumbnails
Abstract
Too many times, creatives begin their visual explorations on a computer before having ideas fully formed. They worry about fonts, colors, and images before they even have a concept. Why do so many creatives skip a critical step in the ideation process and begin working on the computer so quickly? This, in my opinion, is due to either a lack of creative confidence or bad habits that were developed during their time in school or as young professionals. They start working with the end in mind rather than thinking beyond the obvious. They sometimes gravitate to familiar solutions that have worked for them in the past. Without careful consideration, this method of idea development may result in ideas that could be off-brand or off-target.
Eleazar Hernández

Chapter 7. The Art of the Critique

How to evaluate your team’s work constructively
Abstract
Any creative who tells you that they don’t have a personal attachment to the work they produce is lying to you. When we create solutions to marketing challenges, we do so from a very personal basis. Sure, we use research or client information provided to us to come up with creative solutions, but regardless of where the information came from, the act of creating is always personal. We pour a little bit of ourselves into every project. The reality is that all designers, art directors, copywriters, illustrators, and so on infuse a little bit of their personality and aesthetics in all their work.
Eleazar Hernández

Chapter 8. The Art of the Pitch

Get ready for the spotlight.
Abstract
Coming up with good ideas is hard enough, but convincing others that they are good is a whole other ballgame. Part of the responsibility of being creative lead is that it is your job to present or “pitch” ideas to both internal team members and clients. I am not advocating that you learn how to sell ideas like one of those slick car wheeler-dealers, but you do need to thoroughly communicate the benefits of your creative solutions to teammates and the clients. You must develop the ability to be at ease when speaking to a group of people so that you can present your team’s ideas in a confident, knowledgeable manner. If you can’t, you risk having very good ideas end up in the recycle bin.
Eleazar Hernández

Chapter 9. The Art of Copywriting

Writing copy for an overstimulated world
Abstract
What is copywriting? Simply put, you can think of it as salesmanship in written form. It is used for the purpose of relaying a client’s advertising or marketing message. Great copywriting has the ability to deliver messages of value to the right people at the right time. Effective messaging will motivate readers to respond with thoughts, words, or actions. If they are not motivated to act or at least consider taking action, the copy was not successful. You may be thinking, “Yeah. Sure. Whatever. That’s easy. It’s just words.” Don’t underestimate the power of good copywriting.
Eleazar Hernández

Chapter 10. The Art of TV and Radio

Here’s the beef
Abstract
When considering this chapter, I wondered if I was getting a little too tactical. I am providing one view into what it takes to knock out a TV or radio spot, but that’s not really what this book is about. As a whole, my rationale for creating this book was to help creative directors and other creative leads prepare for leadership. If I were to consider writing chapters for every element that lies within the realm of a creative lead I would have chapters on design software, illustration, poster design, editorial design… and much more than could fit into one book.
Eleazar Hernández

Chapter 11. Career Trajectories to Creative Leadership

How do I get there?
Abstract
Is there a magic formula or an actual outlined path that someone should follow to become a creative leader? I’d like to say in my best Yoda voice, “Path to creative leadership, yes there is.” Unfortunately, almost every creative director has taken a path all his or her own. What works for one may not work for another. Senior Art Director A might be thrust into a leadership role because they happen to be in the right place at the right time. Multimedia Designer B is given responsibility and is suddenly thrust into the role of creative director as part of their in-house team, but doesn’t understand the role. Newly promoted Creative Director C took the slow and steady path to creative director starting as a junior art director and, through creative blood, sweat, and tears at the same agency, makes their way to creative leadership. More often, creative leaders grow, learn, and progress by spending time at an agency, developing expertise in their current position, and then moving on to another agency for a higher title with more responsibility.
Eleazar Hernández

Chapter 12. Invest in Your People

Here’s a real ROI
Abstract
One of the most frequent questions I get from other creative directors or people on their way up is, “What is the one piece of advice every good creative director should have?” My answer is simple: Invest in your people. Your team will be the ones that help you complete the day-to-day tasks and assignments that need to be knocked out to address client challenges. Your team is your go-to group when you need to get a job done after hours. Your team also has your back when people may question the direction of the creative product that your team is producing. The size of the investment you put into your people can determine the amount of success they, and in turn you, will have.
Eleazar Hernández

Chapter 13. Don’t Just Take It from Me

What other creative leaders have to say
Abstract
While compiling my notes and writing this book, I thought it would be beneficial to contact friends and colleagues who have made their way through the ranks to creative leadership and gather some insights from them. Because we have all taken different paths to leadership, I believe it’s also important hear perspectives other than mine. As you read this chapter, you will discover a common thread—these leaders are passionate about their craft and driven to succeed.
Eleazar Hernández

Chapter 14. The Final Nutshell

Wait? Is it over already?
Abstract
There you have it. My take on creative leadership—the good and the bad. Should you choose to embark on this career path, you will be faced with challenges from almost every direction. There will be times when you feel the world is a beautiful place full of sunshine and butterflies. But there will also be times when you’d love to take off on an extended coffee break and just give your clients the bird.
Eleazar Hernández
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