Future London Academy and Campbell Butler, Co-founder and Creative Director of Lovework Studio, share five top tips on Branding Leadership, and how to build, inspire and lead teams that will create award-winning brand work.
If you’re aspiring to follow the career of a Creative Director, one of the main challenges you’ll face is learning how to lead a team. Even for the best designers, there’s a whole new skill-set required for when they take that leap. Learning to lead might be a challenge, but it’s also an amazing opportunity to grow. And with the right knowledge, practice and experience, a great designer can become a brilliant Creative Director. Lovework Studio have collaborated with Future London Academy to create Branding Now, the ultimate branding course for Senior Creatives and Design Directors.
Here, they share their five top tips on how to lead a team and take the step up to becoming a Creative Director:
Set Up Your Project
To run a project that is worthy of winning awards, you need to make sure you are setting yourself up for success. At the negotiation stage, it’s easy to get carried away and over-compromise or promise too much. Doing this will have a negative effect on your team so make sure that you are setting the parameters correctly. This means assessing whether you have enough time and team-members to deliver the volume and quality of work required, that you have factored in the hiring of any freelancers and specialists you might need, and that you have enough money in the pot to cover your costs.
Build the Right Team
Once you’ve set up your project, you need to build the perfect team. At this stage, thinking about how the team will function together as a whole is vital. Know the different types of designers you are working with and ask yourself what the best combinations will be. For example, putting together two conceptualists may not produce the best results. Teaming up a conceptualist with a speedy deliverer, however, could be a brilliant combination.
When it comes to kicking off your project and briefing your designers, you need to be clear about the structure of your project and your expectations. This means setting out goals, rules, responsibilities and deadlines, but it also means asking your team to share their ambitions, expectations and what they want to learn from the tasks they are assigned. With clear communication where everybody’s opinion is valued you will create an environment that is fun, safe, and where your team members are inspired to produce the best work of their life.
Create A Safe Space
Building a safe, creative space in which your whole team feels comfortable presenting their ideas is a key part of Brand Leadership. Lead by example by responding to ideas positively and constructively to ensure that group work sessions are free from judgment. And, if any of your team responds with overt criticism or disrespect to their colleagues’ work, it is your role as leader to deal with the issue quietly but directly and without delay, to ensure that nobody is undermined in the space you are holding. Remember that in a safe environment, creativity will flourish. And, even in the era of remote working, encouraging your team to experiment away from the computer can produce amazing results. If you get stuck on an idea, going back to the basics: cutting, gluing and building will re-inspire your team and come up with fantastic and unexpected solutions.
So you have the perfect project, the best possible combination of designers, and you have equipped your team with all the tools they need. But no project will ever run entirely smoothly, and as a leader you need to be able to give feedback, refine your team’s work, and deal with any issues that come up along the way. When giving feedback, be encouraging but also precise, giving clear and practical next steps so that you don’t overwhelm. And, if you are becoming too involved, consider stepping back and setting up a group review session, asking questions and letting your team answer them rather than dictating from the top down. This way, your team will stay motivated, engaged and inspired by the project.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, it is crucial to remember that there is no one way to lead. Within each of these five key points, there is always room for you to bring your own leadership style and value. Particularly in an industry that is grounded in empathy and emotional intelligence, authenticity is one of your most powerful leadership tools: don’t forget to be yourself.
These five key points will help you to lead incredible teams of designers producing award-winning work, but this is just the start. Future London Academy’s online course, Branding Now, is curated especially for Senior Designers and Design Directors who are ready to take their career to the next step. If you want to become a brilliant leader who has amazing, career-long relationships with designers, brands and creatives, then head to Future London Academy and find out more.
By Future London Academy
Executive School for Creatives connecting creative communities from around the world giving them knowledge and inspiration to make the world better.