My title used to be “Creative Guy,” (rollover my photo on the team page and it still is) so being creative is literally my job. But as TIV Branding has evolved and grown, my position has changed from being more hands-on with my creativity to more of a guiding role. I would assume that’s what happens with a lot of designers in the agency world…they move their way up to Art Director to Creative Director to whatever’s next, all the while becoming more and more disconnected from the physical act of creativity. But beyond the obvious creativity that goes into directing projects, where is a different way of thinking required? As an agency owner, the answer is “everywhere.”
I’m still working on being better as a Creative Director. My process as a designer used to involve long hours in design programs working to make the concepts that were so clear in my head into reality. The ones that ended up looking closest to those ideas were usually the best. Now I work closely with designers to create those concepts through them. A different experience for sure, but the same general beginning and end. However, my role as an agency owner is a completely different ball of wax.
As an agency owner, my focus has turned to how things are actually done and how we can replicate the magic that happens during great projects. What goes into each and every project? And what are the patterns that rise to the surface when I step back and look at the big picture, which is a place I can spend a lot of my time these days? Where are the consistent challenges, but more importantly, what’s working really well? And how do we apply the good to help smooth over the challenges?
We have a pretty standard process: DISCOVER, DESIGN, DEVELOP, DRIVE. But that’s just the general framework. What I spend a good amount of my time doing now, is taking those silos, improving the process within them and, most importantly, figuring out how to break down the walls between the silos. Ultimately our process has to guide us through every project, but it can’t only work for us, it has to work for our clients.
A good example is our website process. We recently identified a pattern of challenges in a couple of the phases of web projects that required some attention. There were periods where we were hunkered down working away, but the client wasn’t able to see any progress. They became antsy and wanted to see the site before it was done, which is never a good idea for anyone. Instead, we’ve started a tiered approach to our web projects. It allows us to keep our process intact but show more consistent progress…and take our website projects from beginning to end quicker. A win for everyone!
It’s funny when you take the time to recalibrate where you can end up. I feel the same rush when I come up with a creative solution for our process as I used to feel when completing a great design. I guess I get to keep the title “Creative Guy” for now!
Brandt Hoekenga is the Founder and Creative Director for TIV Branding
TIV Branding is a boutique branding firm in Sonoma County, California. We specialize in building brands by using traditional, social and digital channels in unison. If you would like to discuss a project or find out more about how we do what we do, please email us at info@TIVbranding.com.