An old joke. How many art directors does it take to change a light bulb? Answer: They’re not changing anything, alright!
Many moons ago, the movers and shakers of the UK’s creative industries would have led you to believe that life would be better without clients. Those super-smart creatives and marketing strategists knew everything there was to know about designing, writing, persuading, selling and of course, just how big (or small!) a logo should be. Those bothersome clients needed to stick to what they did best and leave all the clever stuff to their agencies.
Having experienced first-hand the fallout from a breakdown in communication between agency and client at other agencies, we founded Remedy Creative with the intention of doing things a bit differently. Almost 10 years later, we still live by the adage that ‘better relationships equal better results’ and now, more than ever, collaboration is the name of the game. That’s not just some empty bit of marketing puffery either, we’ve worked with enough talented clients to now understand that they’re worth listening to.
It’s a simple yet powerful concept that is pretty much in opposition to the old way of doing things. Our clients know their businesses inside out. They know their products, their markets, customers and competitors like no one else. In fact, they know so much that sometimes they don’t even know that they know it.
As a responsible creative agency it’s our job to tease all of that juicy information out of our clients and make sense of it – formulating a creative brief that makes it easier to produce work that will make a difference for them.
From brief formulation, right through to final sign-off of a new campaign, we prefer to involve our clients as much as possible. This doesn’t mean design by committee, it means open-mindedness and, ultimately, communications that are targeted and that everyone feels involved with. Imagine every member of a client board behind your re-brand and a whole bunch of their clients singing its praises. That’s one of the ways we measure the success of a project; buy-in from everyone involved.
Yes, of course we want our work to look stunning and, yes, we want to be so proud of it that we show it off to our Mums. But we also want our clients to turn around and say: “We all love the new work and it’s already paying dividends. It’s been a pleasure working with you.” Or something to that effect anyway.
If at the back of your mind you’re now thinking that this open and collaborative approach probably ends up with all of our work being diluted, then I can hand-on-heart tell you that isn’t the case. Most of the time a client’s input will be thrown into the mix and invariably it makes their communications work that little bit harder – with no loss of creative integrity.
Of course, sometimes we have to say no – it’s our duty not to roll over and let a personal love of Comic Sans ruin a prestigious annual report. But, before saying no, we usually give their ideas a chance.
Now we’re 10 years in and working with an expanding list of great clients who keep coming back to us. So next time your client says ‘what if…’ don’t beat them over the head with a Pantone book. Stop, listen, think about their viewpoint. Are they interfering in the creative process or is what they’re saying valid? Will it actually help to make the project better? Give it a go, you might just be surprised.
One tip though, if at all possible: don’t let the client sit by your side while the creative work is in process, it will end in tears. Guaranteed.
Remedy pride themselves on ideas. Big ones, smart ones, online-offline-intriguing-informative-persuasive ones. This mindset has led to intriguing projects with the likes of Liberty, Animal Aid and Build Africa.
Illustrated by Aaron Jay
- One Thing I Know