“We’re not creative enough, we’re not positive enough”. And so said Trevor Brooking on the England football team. In recent years those words wouldn’t be out of place at the boardroom table of most large companies.
As recently as 10 years ago, companies were beginning to get to grips with IT and when they realised what the potential of the internet or large scale enterprise networks was, the IT staff became more and more important. Many companies appointed an IT director to their board as the regular board members found themselves in increasingly unknown territory, and now none of the big names are without one.
It is now the turn of creative staff to take a turn in the limelight. In recent years technology has opened up a raft of new possibilities for companies. While the IT director has ensured that most are at least on top of technology changes, there has been no creative director to make sure that these new avenues are being properly exploited.
As consumer brand awareness and corporate competition heats up the pressure to stay in the lead is higher than ever. Different media also attracts different types of consumer so pulling everything together, making sure that advertising and marketing budgets not only target the right people but that in doing so stay on message and don’t dilute the brand presence, is becoming exponentially difficult alongside the importance of the work.
Being competitive isn’t just about being the cheapest or even having the highest quality, it is about building value into the brand experience, one of the last areas that companies can try to leverage an advantage over their competitors. This can only come through the application of creative thinking to every touch point with the customer, ensuring that each stage of the buying process gives the same brand message and feel for one seamless process.
Getting this right is not as easy as it sounds. There are a number of well-known high street chains that have either failed as online businesses or are simply missing from the internet altogether. Their brand name is not enough to carry them through, creative and design skill, innovation, research and intuition are all required to get an effective result.
With this being the case, increasing pressure is being brought to bear upon the marketing director and advertising teams. Often with multiple agencies to manage across varying media, it is becoming increasingly difficult for one person to provide effective analysis, find expanding markets and react to changes.
With multiple agencies there is the added problem of making sure that each agency carries the company image the same way. No matter how good the brief is there is always an element of interpretation in any creative process and a hard pressed marketing team can easily let things slip through.
Because of this, the current system is unsustainable. Consistency needs to be guaranteed across every product, environment, communication and idea if a company is to gain a competitive edge. A brand which does little or nothing better than a competitor will still come out on top if it has an emotional impact on the audience and makes them feel better.
That is where the creative director will step in. With so much pressure now on the power of the brand it will not be long before the board needs a creative person to manage all the elements of their brand and make sure that the company is properly represented to the public.
Much like the IT director a decade ago, in 10 years time, we will see creative directors appointed to the boards of companies across the globe. They will oversee all external communications and make sure that the company image is never allowed to slip be it on web, TV, mobile or in print not least because the brand could be the company’s greatest asset.
Susanna Freedman is managing director
Do you agree? have your say on The Drum forum: www.thedrum.com or email: firstname.lastname@example.org