Emily Vernon

What is a Creative Strategist?

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Creative strategy is used across multiple industries, whether adverting, marketing or physical environments. But as job descriptions and requirements for each differ, it can be difficult to understand what unites these varying types of creative strategist. We’ll look at the underlying commonalities of creative strategists and how they differ according to industry.

Creative strategists are everywhere, from in-house to agency-side, and across all industries. They work within media, advertising, UX, CX, physical experiences and basically any area that a consumer sees or interacts with. Each of these requires speciality knowledge and industry know-how. The latter ensures concepts are relevant or ground-breaking, when needed. However it is important creative strategists also have a wider understanding of consumers, as to optimise their specific channel versus another in the consumer’s journey.

I work within a pretty specific corner of creative strategy, which is creative strategy for retail and hospitality. We are responsible for creating physical experiences and environments for consumers that answer specific KPIs in a way that is unique to the brand. Many times we are looking at everything from design language to communication hierarchy in such spaces. Though this differs from the origins of creative strategy, it still involves similar approaches, knowledge and skillset.

The easiest place to start with understanding creative strategy is the name. Creative strategists work with creative concept and people. This is with the goal to form meaningful consumer experience whether through ads, copy, digital interactions or physical spaces that support greater business initiatives. As they work between brand vision and consumer needs, creative strategists across all fields need to understand both. For this reason, many creative strategist come from creative backgrounds whether design or art direction.

‘Creative’ is intimidating for many people. It can be viewed as intuitive, magical, abstract or something only the special few understand. But the truth is, companies need creativity to achieve business goals. This is where creative strategists add the most value. They can contextualise and package concepts in such a way that is clear, credible, consistent and accessible. Many times, we are creating and selling in ideas to different audiences. Strong communication and presentation skills are a must for creative strategists to ensure different stakeholders understand and are comfortable with the ideas presented.

Output for creative strategists includes a wide variety of documents to contextualise, plan and execute a concept. This includes creative briefs, sell-in or pitch documents, consumer profiles, consumer or market insights, consumer journey mapping, scalability or roadmaps and content creation - to name a few. As facilitators of the creative vision and execution, our work also includes workshops both with our teams and key stakeholders.

Creative strategists are the glue, catalyst and translator for creative projects. Having one onboard makes creative projects easier and more understandable. They can increase confidence in stakeholders and team members who all have very specific concerns and tasks to look after. If you feel something might not be aligned or is inconsistent within a creative project, it could be worth looking into a creative strategist.