January 14, 2024

Business + Intentional Creative = Success

Creative Strategy is as Important as the Marketing Strategy

The word “creative” as a noun refers to the art created to deliver the messages in strategic advertising and marketing plans. It can also refer to the person who makes the message and visuals that give legs to those plans. Both the designer and the art must be intentional in messaging, design choices, impact, and hierarchy for the medium. This brings us to intentional creative for your business.

No matter what medium(s) are in front of the audience, communication is very different for each method. It requires specific tailoring to be effective and consistent to emphasize brand recognition. If those steps are skipped, the creative is lost to the audience; they will scan right by it. Just slapping something together, thinking people will read or the logo is enough, will leave the business in the dark. Attention spans and memories are short and time is a premium.

Just because something is sent out on social media doesn’t mean it will be effective as a poster or a website. Different levels of organization are required, and the content varies greatly. How a customer experiences each format is very different as well. Yet the branding of every piece of creative needs to be the same. The multiple touches engage more senses and build better recognition. Random creative across all the right places will still fall woefully short unless it’s a unified brand.

It is essential for a brand to have some consistency across all media and deliverables. The creative must be developed intentionally, specifically for the audience, and with a distinct hierarchy for information. Many small businesses need to think differently than if they like the creative; it will work for their audience. The business owner is rarely a member of the audience they serve. Another common mistake is having a family member or friend with an artistic interest but no training create logos and materials.

Part of being intentional is shoring up the brand standards. The basics start with mission, vision, and values statements. Knowing what the business does for who, why, and where it’s going in the future helps to get a solid brand. Once these decisions are made, work on the creative begins. The creatives ‘ job is to choose colors, shapes, fonts, and visuals that speak directly to the audience to convey their desired relationship.

Meanwhile, brand marketing and advertising go beyond what is pretty to deliver successful creativity. A great deal of psychology and understanding of communication on several levels gets put into the work. For example, Coca-Cola is a timeless and well-built brand that is highly recognizable; however, the same look, feel, and coloring would not be so successful for a bank or investment service. It would be too whimsical and carefree… something most people are not when it comes to their money. Consumers’ unconscious tendency to associate specific colors and fonts with certain emotions has built trends within each industry regarding what colors and styles are acceptable.

Using emotional connections to strengthen loyalty to the brand is a must.  Customers will choose a particular brand or not without even knowing why. That emotional connection is very subtle, but it’s strong enough to sway. It could be the color that unconsciously makes them feel the relief of that problem being solved. For example, a blue bank logo can lend to feelings of calm and security. Something that makes customers feel confident in putting their money in that bank or using that investment firm.

Another example would be doctor’s offices. Many of those are branded in cool, calm colors. If it’s a pediatric-based practice, the rules change dramatically. Parents seek calming, child-friendly doctors that help their children have safe and happy lives. These would tend to be more playful and colorful.

Some creatives will break these molds intentionally, but it depends on the audience how much can stray from what’s expected. A good base in typical creative theory is a great place to start. However, you can do a lot to dress it up and customize it from there. Maybe the font is the stable common denominator for the bank, but the bank is looking for a much younger audience, so the color is bright and promising.

The designer’s job is to design creative that fits within the emotional landscape of the industry’s customers and to stand out from the competition enough to be distinguished and recognized; every decision is intentional, and all the details matter. The tools available take years to master and the constant changes in the communication landscape demand that creatives continue to grow and develop beyond what they learned in that first design class X years ago.

Like many other industries and professions, design involves data, but it is submerged in the emotions tied to the solutions a company offers its customers. Designing intentional creative brings people into the brand space, often without them even realizing it. They recognize the brand but can’t tell you why. They’ve made the connection to their product or services and are proud to be a part of the community that uses them. The creative brings them joy when they see it.

Developing intentional creative is crucial for businesses to communicate their message to their target audience effectively. It involves creating visuals specific to the audience and with a distinct information hierarchy. It is essential to avoid assuming that what the business owner likes will be successful for their audience. Instead, it requires understanding the psychology and communication levels needed to make the creative successful.

Using color and fonts is essential in creating successful branding that fits the emotional landscape of the industry’s customers. Designers must continue developing their skills and stay current with the constantly changing communication landscape. Intentional creative brings people into the brand space and creates a connection with the product or service. Successful creative brings joy to the customer when they see it.

Tailoring and strength in your creative leads to loyalty and promotion of the brand by loyal customers. It puts pieces together and unifies your messaging to ensure every touch counts. When people have to see something 7 or 8 times before they recognize it, you don’t want that to have to be 7 or 8 of the same kind of touches. That takes way too long. Building that recognition across the marketing strategy strengthens the brand overall.

Branding is not an overnight deal. It’s not something the cousin who took a night class pulled together on a weekend. Branding blends multiple facets of the business to present a united front to customers. If the company is the body, the creative becomes the clothes.

Intentional creative is a must for successful marketing and advertising campaigns. It bleeds into all business areas, from what employees wear to what the space looks like to how products and services are delivered. Leaving the creative to chance is like sending a business into the world naked. Trust is seriously limited, as is the number of customers willing to take you seriously. Definitely not bringing in the right kind of crowd.

If you have concerns about your creative; sales are down, the wrong audience, or no audience responding to your materials, make sure you have your specific audience nailed down. What else are they into and what do they share in common? How does your business stack up?