I’ve been a creative director an executive creative director and a vice president of design for over 20 years.
What a creative director does mostly is mentors and motivates their team and make sure that the design work that comes out of the studio is the highest possible quality they are generally the conceptual heavyweights.
So they’re bringing a lot of ideas to the table and they’re making sure that they’re vetting the ideas of their team to make sure they are the highest possible quality.
They also have to be trend visionaries so they keep their eyes out for design trend and business trying to make sure that’s incorporated into the work of their department.
They’re making sure that they’re bringing new approaches and new perspectives to the table, they’re also the key client point person so they interface with the client a great deal, they make sure that the client’s needs are being met and that the client knows that they are the person that they should go to if they have a problem or if they have a need.
The creative director is also a key player in business development so they generally go along on all the new business pitches and generally present in those new business pitches making sure they’re communicating that their design solution that their agency and department comes up with are always of the highest quality, They always solve the clients problem.
The creative director also questions everything, so the creative director questions the questions, when a creative brief comes in they parse through the creative brief and make sure that it’s clear and then it’s going to be actionable by their designers.
They question the assumptions of any project, they question the designs that come out from their studio, they question the approach of the solutions that are being presented, they also have to question what the ultimate goal of the project is.
Is the goal of the project to grab attention?
Is it to drive sales?
Is it to communicate information?
Is it to increase recognition?
Is it to be memorable or to increase the clients reputation?
They have to think about what the deliverable is for the project in question, how they’re going to bring that about in the most effective way.
One of the key responsibilities of a creative director is managing and growing the design team so they manage the projects that are in the studio.
They make sure that the time allotted to those projects and who’s working on them is the most effective allotment and that multiple projects in the studio are being balanced in the correct way and that the resources of the department are being applied in the right way.
They also mentor designers to learn and grow, they set goals for the designers for the year and then they also do annual performance reviews for their designers.
They push their designers to have and grow and learn the best skill sets.
They also champion the best aesthetics that are coming on in the studio.
They encourage smart risk-taking, they also are responsible for morale so they try to energize and dish out praise and congratulate the studio and jobs well done.
Then they also need sometimes to chastise or to push or motivate people to do better, one of the toughest things to do is to balance the fun and the boring projects, not all projects that come into a studio or into a company or design group are going to be exciting and new and fantastic, some of them are run-of-the-mill and boring and mundane so they make sure that they’re balancing the work between the designers so everyone gets to work on a bit of fun stuff and everybody gets to work on a bit of boring stuff that’s just the way it works.