creative direction,creative,brand,strategy,director,marketing,vision,creative process,art direction,digital marketing,insight,execute,brand identity,advertising,strategic

18 ways to take full advantage of creative calls: Gather creative direction for your brand

creative direction,creative,brand,strategy,director,marketing,vision,creative process,art direction,digital marketing,insight,execute,brand identity,advertising,strategic
How do you make the most of your creative calls with your Creative Director?

When we launched the Deer Designer Agency Plan in November 2023, something unexpected happened.

Most people know I’m not a great salesperson.

I love working behind the scenes: building the service, improving processes, automating anything and everything that can be automated, and making sure our designs, turnaround times, and customer service are excellent.

Our service works through a ticketing system where you send messages to your design team, and they reply.

Everything gets logged into the platform, so nothing gets lost.

During client-fit calls (a quick chat to see if we’re a good fit for each other), I always tell them the Business Plan is perfect for anyone needing a powerhouse design team to handle most of their design needs.

However, after hundreds of calls, I noticed some people wanted face-to-face conversations with someone on the team.

They felt it would help them express ideas better, bounce thoughts around, or even create strategic, proactive pitches for their prospects.

So we created the Agency Plan, adding a fourth person to your design team: the creative director, along with your designer, account manager, and quality analyst.

After 6 years of running Deer Designer, I became pretty good at creating briefs that yield great designs without too much back and forth.

But I admit it took time to get there.

You see, even as a 23-year design veteran, sometimes I forget designers can’t read my mind and end up not making a clear, comprehensive brief that communicates my creative vision.

So I had a couple of creative calls with a creative director myself before releasing designs to clients, and it helped a lot!

Not only were my designs getting done faster with fewer revisions, but I now had someone to discuss ideas and alternatives with.

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It helps to have a professional creative, like a Creative Director to bounce ideas off of.

Heck, most times they’d even pitch something completely out of the box!

Though I didn’t expect most clients to move to that plan, it’s easy to understand why they did.

Clients on the Agency Plan using creative calls have the highest satisfaction scores, and their clients love it too.

So worth it! After nearly a year of this, I want to share with you 18 tips for using your creative calls better.

1. Discussing past design projects for feedback and improvements

Don’t let completed projects gather dust once they are delivered.

Review past design work during calls to get candid feedback on what worked well and what could be improved.

Discuss real-world results and metrics.

Identify areas for iteration based on customer feedback or market shifts.

2. Brainstorming new design ideas and concepts for your art direction

Creative calls are the perfect place to explore fresh design concepts.

Whether you’re planning a new product launch, rebrand, or campaign, bounce initial ideas off your designer.

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With a Creative Director, you get more concrete and actionable ideas in your brainstorming.

They can help shape rough concepts into something more concrete.

You can also role-play as the client to pressure-test ideas.

3. Developing wireframes and mockups for new websites and apps

For digital design, collaborate with wireframes and prototypes.

Focus on refining core features and structure before adding visuals.

You’ll be able to test usability and iterate quickly.

Your creative director will make sure they make sense even before adding any style.

4. Providing insight on ongoing projects and making adjustments

For works in progress, hop on a call to review current drafts and provide feedback.

Your designer can quickly pivot and make the requested adjustments while the idea is still taking shape.

Agree on the next steps to keep the project moving forward efficiently.

5. Exploring different design styles and approaches

If you feel stuck in a creative rut, suggest exploring new styles and design approaches.

Review inspiration and examples with your creative director to determine a fresh direction that resonates best with your audience.

Then, discuss ways to make your brand stand out more or align with current tastes.

6. Reviewing competitor designs and strategizing differentiation

Do competitive design audits together to identify opportunities for your brand to visually separate itself.

Analyze what’s working for them and how you can create a more unique, distinct brand impression.

7. Reviewing and refining mood boards for upcoming projects

Mood boards are a powerful tool for nailing the creative brief.

Review mood board options and discuss removing or adding specific elements, color palettes, fonts, etc. to home in on the perfect look and feel before design work starts.

8. Collaborating with a creative director on creating detailed project briefs that execute your vision effectively

Spend your call time fleshing out an upcoming project brief so your designer has crystal clear objectives and guardrails to work within.

Discuss your target audience, messaging, technical requirements, deadlines, and other key details.

9. Discussing your brand identity, branding strategies, and how design supports them

If you have overarching brand strategy goals, walk through them with your designer to brainstorm how design and visuals can reinforce them.

Examples may include increasing brand awareness, brand revitalization, or positioning for a new market.

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A Creative Director can prepare different design pitches with different styles you can explore.

10. Planning upcoming marketing campaigns and designing assets

For major marketing pushes, coordinate the design assets needed by your designers during planning calls.

This ensures your designer understands all facets of the campaign and can prepare ads, graphics, print collateral, etc.

11. Seeking guidance on design trends and how to implement them

Explore current and emerging design trends during calls.

Your creative director can recommend how to adapt them for your brand in modern, tasteful ways.

Discuss examples and get tips for pulling it off successfully.

12. Exploring ways to optimize designs for better conversions

In the same way, discuss opportunities to update designs to increase conversions and sales.

Review customer journeys with your creative director and see potential sticking points that improved design could resolve.

13. Planning seasonal or thematic design updates

For things like holiday promotions or product updates, get ahead of design needs.

Plan out these rotating campaigns to ensure timely design delivery and deployment.

14. Discussing social media graphics and content ideas

Social media is a powerful marketing channel, so spend your call time planning out attractive, engaging graphics and post concepts tailored to each platform’s specs.

Even if you don’t have a plan, just “be active” there so your clients will know you’re not closed for business.

15. Creating design templates for future use

For brand consistency, create design templates that can be repurposed across different materials: presentations, ebooks, graphics, etc.

This saves a lot of time down the road.

16. Reviewing print materials like brochures, flyers, or posters

If you require print design work, why not coordinate with your creative director about those physical specs and requirements?

Discussing examples and reviewing proofs during calls ensures print-ready files and quality results.

17. Exploring ways to integrate design with other marketing efforts

Design is most powerful when it is a core part of a cohesive marketing strategy.

Discuss tactics for your creative to tie together and reinforce other channels like content, video, email, and advertising.

18. Providing general design advice and guidance in the creative process

Use creative call time for any other design-related questions, advice, or expertise you need. Your design director can serve as a knowledgeable mentor and provide best practice tips.

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Your Creative Director can see ways you can streamline your creative and design process.

19. Use it for yourself too! (bonus)

We usually leave all our own brand’s design needs on the backlog because we prioritize client projects.

But your website, social media profiles, and other visual materials must show your professionalism and care for your clients.

So don’t hesitate to seek feedback from them on your logo, brand, website, or anything else that could use some improvement!

The key to productive creative calls is preparation: have a plan, agenda, or list of items ready to discuss.

But also remain open-minded to where the creative conversation goes.

With Deer Designer, you have a collaborative design partner focused on your long-term success.