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Strategists are from Mars, Creatives are from Venus

In the branding zoo, strategists and creatives are different species, although this doesn’t mean that they aren’t complementary to each other


By Cristián Saracco, Founding Partner at Allegro 234. Senior Strategy Advisor at FutureBrand

Strategists are from Mars, Creatives are from Venus

Maybe the roots of branding may have helped to ensure that developing a brand was done by people whose professional backgrounds were diverse, and that we have so easily and lightly attached labels representing each type of actor.

Strategy was owned by consultants whose origin was in management consultancy or advertising agency strategic planning; design was in the hands of creatives from diverse backgrounds; brand management was a clear legacy of advertising agencies, which oriented them more towards pampering the client than giving a business orientation to their brand... And so, the story goes on.

Years go by and we are still learning that it’s not a linear industrial process whose operations go one after the other, in series. Branding is a fluid process that comes and goes, that needs the team as a whole and not parts acting as autarkic entities.

The Requirement of Thinking, Synthesising and Acting Simultaneously

The challenge already seems enormous, but in the midst of this situation the environment is changing faster than our normal level of resilience towards any kind of change. 

Digitisation in general, artificial intelligence - AI - in particular, is shifting the ways we understand and plan for our future.

Essentially, the strategy, creativity, design and activation of a brand has to be done with more information, wider scope and in less time - much less time. That’s the branding dilemma.

This deepens the need to interact by blending strictness and creativity, result and impact, strategy and design, businesses and brands.

The Imperative of Caring for Those Around Us and What Surrounds Us

If we continue adding up, we can already glimpse -I guess- that design becomes strategic because it’s not limited to the beauty of things, and it weighs again business orientation, durability, efficiency, sustainability, as well as good salaries, post-industrial reconversion, and so on.

Gone are the days when designers were ethereal art-loving beings and what they did was nothing more than an enlightening journey.

For brand design to play a strategic role, consultants, designers, managers and other actors must be brought together in a process that:

• Is divergent and convergent

• Breaks with linearity, goes backwards whenever necessary

• Anticipates, blends, creates, distils, and executes

• Researches, synthesises, formulates, ideates, designs, and activates

• Defines and designs the right solution

Our brain has its own peculiarities. The left hemisphere thinks linearly and methodically, deals with the past and the future, is analytical and has the ability to solve logical reasoning and numerical problems. The right hemisphere is concerned with controlling the non-verbal processes of communication, which include spatial perception, mental rotation of objects, or understanding the meaning of facial expressions.

Consultants, who are from Mars, would in principle be expected to use more of their left hemisphere, while designers, who are from Venus, would use more of their right hemisphere. In other words, skills associated with analysis, problem solving or rational reflections vs. those associated with creativity, imagination, and holistic thinking. 

Branding in general and design strategically developed needs both hemispheres, it requires people who are mentally “ambidextrous”.

Branding specifically addresses the implications of changing customer demands, market transformation, globalisation, digitisation and politicisation. An ambidextrous approach aims to be creative and, at the same time, foster thoroughness.

Following the Ambidextrous Branding Framework, consultancy and design continuously address the trade-off between being creative and being strict. As such, branding firms strike a balance that emphasises both dimensions. Most companies still focus on one of the two dimensions, but rare are those that manage to excel in both. 

Hence, ambidextrous branding firms are increasingly making a splash in the world of strategic business consultancy.

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lee Sam
lee Sam

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