Creative partnerships between a studio and a brand go together like peanut butter and jelly. When they fit, they are simply meant to be, but sometimes it takes time to develop these kinds of relationships and even then there are keys to lasting success. Our team has years of experience with forming these collaborative bonds, so we've pulled together our 4 keys to a successful creative partnership.
Whether you're the creative studio/agency or the client/brand, there are responsibilities on both sides that deliver a tasty, and successful, combination.
1. Mutual Respect
Strong, solid, and lasting creative partnerships are formed with a basis of mutual respect from each party, to each party. When either side doesn't have respect for one another the partnership isn't really a partnership anymore. It becomes an unbalanced sticky peanut butter sandwich (if we want to stick with the sandwich analogies here).
Mutual respect is critical in projects with tight deadlines, turnarounds, or an extensive list of deliverables. When a brand knows the difficulty of the project or understands the stress the studio/agency is under to pull it off, their respect means the world. And similarly, when a studio/agency has empathy and understands that their brand contact has tight deadlines and reports, it creates a solid bond.
Taking on a creative endeavor with someone is analogous to raising a child together. You both carry responsibility and you both want the absolute best outcome possible for the creative. It’s true what they say, it takes a village and that village requires our second pillar: Trust!
There's two sides to trust in this relationship. When a brand trusts the studio or agency in their creativity and lets them create within the scope of the project, it frees the studio/agency up to explore and develop incredible concepts. This allows for exploration into areas that perhaps the client hasn't even thought of. Which in turn, creates beautiful work.
The studio must also have trust in the client/brand that they will come through with timely feedback and direction. Being upfront in the times when feedback should be expected or times when deliverables are due is crucial. Additionally, clients and brands know their audience. They live it every day. When a studio/agency really takes the advice from a client to heart, you’re set up for success!
Anticipation is one of our favorite things. Maybe we just love pretending to be wizards. But really, it's a critical component of a successful relationship between a client and studio. Our job is not only to create beautifully designed work, but also practice "forward thinking design". Meaning if there's a potential problem anticipated ahead, communicating about that problem and offering a solution. Proactive creative thinking. "Can't" isn't our favorite vocabulary term so we prefer = "this is challenging... here are some alternatives..."
It doesn't always relate to a problem when we practice anticipation in our work. Say for example we're creating still visuals or a style guide, we anticipate that these visuals may need to have movement added to them in the future, so we create design elements that flow well into animation. Forward thinking design means thinking of all the ways this might be utilized in the future and creating beautiful pieces that are accommodating and flexible to that. Also, we have ways of seeing into the future… #wizards.
Our last key to a successful partnership is perhaps our favorite. Have empathy for each other. When there's a personality to the relationship, or even a friendship, it makes the partnership feel solid. Healthy empathetic business relationships are able to discuss problems and concerns without personal attacks or the other party feeling "thrown under the bus". Clear and concise communication coupled with empathy creates a very motivating energy in the relationship.
We view a partnership as a long-term relationship. When we’re creating toolkits, our goal may be to do them so well you don't need us when it’s done, but we just hope that means you come back when there’s a new project so we can start the dance all over again.
Some may read these keys and think they're common sense, but we've learned throughout the years that unfortunately, they are not so common. Much like our motto “we create the work we want to see in the world," I hope this inspires the partnerships we want to see out there. With these 4 points together, it's pretty incredible the work you can do, the fun you can have doing that work, and the life-long relationships that form.
So get out there and make some PB&J’s!