For creatives, as concepts become reality, an emotional attachment begins to grow. Time, thought, energy, heart and soul go into a creative concept, and that does not change, whether it’s for themselves or for a client. In fact there may be MORE effort put into it if it’s for a client. They’re not just serving their own desire to push something out into the world but are trying to solve a problem for client and their audience alike. In branding and advertising, specifically, creatives don’t create just to create. There is strategy and purpose behind every detail.
So what happens when all that hard work gets shot down by a client? What do you do when the potential from all that thought, strategy and creativity is just not seen by a client? It’s not a rhetorical question, I’m really asking?
Seeing an inferior ad published for a client can bring a pang of disappointment. Especially when you know in your heart of hearts your original concept would have worked so much better. But sometimes, no matter the conversations on the purpose for the creative, the push and pull on the part of both parties, the desire of the powers that be (the client, of course) will out, and a lesser design and strategic concept is settled on. That can be a hard pill to swallow. You can find yourself asking, “why couldn’t they just trust us?”. After all, you wouldn’t stand behind an electrician, having never done electrical work, and insist you know a better way. But art is different. It’s subjective, even unfortunately, when backed up by strategy.
This pain can often be amplified when you actually receive validation from your peers in the advertising community. It’s a wonderful feeling to receive accolades from colleagues on particular projects but cuts even deeper when the person paying for it does not see that potential the way other creatives do.
So what do you do? Well, you toughen up. Anyone who works in advertising can tell you, you’d better have a thick skin in this business. You may have studied and trained for years for your vocation but at the end of the day, someone is spending thousands of dollars on, what really amounts to, a product they cannot see…not yet anyway. They have to trust you, and despite your reputation, your portfolio, etc. it’s a lot to ask someone for thousands of dollars worth of trust.
So how do you build trust? For both client and creative, honesty and candor go a long way. You have to respect the client’s hesitation and be ready to change direction. Your first solution may be fantastic but that doesn’t mean it’s the only solution, or the best, for that matter. Demonstrate to the client, that they can trust the expertise of the creative team. Show them that thought and research go into the design, logo, and advertising campaign for a brand. A brand cannot stand out without some risk, and let them know that you and your creative team are taking a risk as well. You and your clients ultimately have the same end goal, success for their brand.
So the next time you feel you have to settle when it comes to your concepts or designs, take a deep breath, put yourself in the shoes of a wary client with doubts and concerns about the money they are spending, open up a respectful and honest dialogue with them, and get those creative juices flowing for some new ideas. Who knows, you might even outdo yourself this time!