My name is Gregory and I am a Swiss designer based in Berne, Switzerland. Two years ago I found myself relatively miserable, because I was working at a company that didn’t allow me to grow as a person at all. I figured that my loyalty actually started to hurt me instead of helping me OR the company I was working in. So I made the decision that I wanted to take responsibility for my actions and make myself independent.
There are so many factors I want to point out where I think we are not pointing towards the right direction. On one side there are creative workers who tend to be more emotional and more empathetic while on the other side of the creative business there are many people who tend to be more analytical and rational. I want to give you some insights and thoughts about how the gap between the marketing elite and the creative minds behind the great ideas and I want to point out the downsides especially for creative workers in this industry these days.
From my point of view I can definitely see that creative people think, act, talk and work differently than marketers who feel safer with a more analytical approach. And this isn’t the issue. Indeed, It is very valueable to have different viewpoints and different mindsets and personalities in and around solutions.
So, in this context — imagine a bunch of creative people working together with another group who likely work more systematic — that is what should be happening in good marketing- or creative-agencies. It is the pivot-point where this huge potential of interdisciplinary collaborations add up to become completely new ideas and solutions. This is a dream for anyone who has ever worked in a large creative team. If the infrastructure is given and the team feels safe, excepted and worthy, the possibilities of collaborations are endless.
Creative professionals often deal with visual communication all their lives. They know all the unspoken rules of eye-tracking, perception, sensory impressions, the emotional experiences associated with a brand. To name a few, it’s about proportion, contrast, white space, colors, creative storytelling, understanding subconscious order and cleanliness. These rules can vary from culture to culture. On the one hand they are obvious, on the other hand they are very changeable and can only be standardized universally with great difficulty. When it comes to innovative visual communication solutions this often is a very subjective matter.
One could say that creative professionals are trendsetters: They deal with socio-critical topics, are lateral thinkers, they take existing recipes for success and create new solutions with modern elements. Sometimes they are radical and go against all known guidelines, simply to achieve dissonance in their designs. This makes creatives unpredictable, on the other hand they break up the status quo with their way of thinking and deliver novel and striking solutions, which often take some getting used to.
Nowadays communication-strategies goes beyond striking visuals. Today we seek for audio-visual solutions that stand out and contribute to the purpose of the project. In the best case, these should have viral potential, which in turn means that these solutions must have an added value for the users so that the content is shared.
So let's talk about marketers who have the ability and are trained to plan and rationalize campaigns and other measures.
As mentioned above, marketers often deal with metrics and analysis as well as the optimization of processes so that successful marketing can emerge. Mostly within agencies they use the team and partners, as well as the network that is either provided by the agency, or they even use their own network to work out these solutions.
It is very important that these positions exist because we need these professionals who enjoy planning and bringing the product or service to market successfully. They usually take their role as project manager and thus become the contact person for suppliers, partners and the team. That this plays a central role and that someone must bear this responsibility is beyond question. Just like the motto too many cooks spoil the broth.
The training of marketing specialists is often (it can vary a lot) an education in which the subject is taught relatively theoretically and a bit practically. Just like in almost every study nowadays. This does not mean at all that they are worse. But it does mean that after graduation they — for now — lack the practical work experience.
As most are probably aware by now, the world of media and marketing has changed radically in the last 20 years. Today, consumers want to experience. They want to be able to represent values and make their own decisions. It has never been so easy to research, compare and inform yourself. In addition, all media are flooded with stimuli. In order to stand out from the crowd, new measures are needed.
Lets take a step back. Agencies need to make money and therefore they have tendencies towards prioritizing sales. Which from a business perspective absolutely makes a lot of sense. There is nothing wrong to keep up a business model.
But if you compare the lives of creative people with marketing people, you can quickly see that the biggest differences. Creatives need to be able to build a visual portfolio with as well known brands and names as possible so that they can build a socially recognized status. Therefore, creatives are pushed to develop as much quality as possible in the most efficient time frame. Unlike other industries, it is often only the end result that is judged. One example of this is hourly wages. Here’s a real-world example:
Freddie is an insanely talented designer who, through his years of experience, has learned to coordinate his creative work. He knows the needs of consumers and clients and can create high quality visuals very efficiently. In the case of job A, he comes up with a very funny and novel idea within only 4 hours, which is very easy to implement. The problem, however, is his hourly wage. After these 4 hours one could argue that this should be a very cheap solution.
Freddie has a second job B. He has been struggling with it for weeks and has not yet found an ideal solution. His efforts climb and climb and are now pulling into a range he can’t charge the client for, so every extra hour eats a bigger hole in his wallet. Time in which he earns nothing and can’t get other things done.
Here’s the problem Freddie has: if Freddie billed his hours one-to-one, he would be penalized by earning less if he came up with a good solution quickly and efficiently.
The most important part of this story is that his work experience and talent is completely ignored while the formal education of his superior clearly gives him a significant monetary advantage which is reflected in his salary.
What I want to say is that good quality has its price regardless of the effort. Creatives have to learn for years to come up with new innovative creative ideas at the push of a button.
This requires a lot of experience and interest in socially relevant topics. If you decide to work with such creative people, you should be aware of where they and their creative ideas and communication solutions come from. They are the result of years — sometimes decades — of dealing with ethical issues, political issues, visual guidelines, subconscious behavior patterns, alternative communication solutions, the industrial as well as the digital revolution, and last but not least even the implementation of their ideas in the respective programs. To be able to combine all of this and to put it all together on command requires a lot of energy.
It is quite possible that the creatives are not the best planners. But to be able to produce this content needs the expertise. It’s about understanding influences of our perception, it’s about how to bring the content into the visually coherent overall image and it’s about mastering the programs and operating them as efficiently as possible.
And there it is: a whole group of people dedicating their lives dealing with these exact topics. Let’s give the creative people in our industry the respect and recognition they deserve because each and every one of us is faced with the solutions of the underpaid creative professionals on a daily basis.
To end this article I want to shout out to all of these outstanding creators who are trying to make a living while having to argue about their worth.
I will never send more than one email per month, I promise!
Platforms like BlueSky bring a refreshing wind to the media landscape. It's an attempt to put the way we interact online back into the hands of the community. For me personally, it sounds like a very positive change that I would like to support.
Within 3 years I have turned my life in a new direction. All the change and hard work is slowly starting to pay off. But my journey is far from over.