Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, it was already challenging for communications and partnerships between clients and creative agencies, and it has been made worse with the Movement Control Order (MCO) and safe distancing measures. Communication have always been a cornerstone for any relationships, be it personal or brand partnerships. Hence, the current climate may deter brands from engaging a creative agency in Malaysia.
However, the technologies at our disposal offer a ray of hope for the somewhat bleak situation, as remote offices and Work-From-Home (WFH) arrangements are now made possible for many companies. As long as we remain professional and keep the same goals in mind, smart planning and creative campaigns development are no longer impossible outcomes to achieve, even if face-to-face interactions are now limited.
Remember, you’re both trying to do what’s best for the brand. Of course, engaging in the best practices of client-agency partnerships can also be extremely helpful during this coronavirus situation. To help brands and fellow creative agencies out there, we will share various ways of maintaining an optimal relationship for both brands and creative agencies:
For the creative industry, everything starts with a creative brief and it’s made even more important with the limited face time we have with one another. Although creative agencies often propose a creative angle or a strategic approach, a well-prepared brief is still the most important starting point for the partnership.
When you’re providing the brief, it needs to give the agency a proper direction and a clear and realistic goal. You can’t just approach an agency and go, “I want a new logo” or “I want a new marketing campaign”. Offer context, background information, both short term and long term goals, existing communication issues you want to solve, any supporting resources, as well as the reason for engaging a creative agency in the first place inside the brief.
The point of the brief is to help us understand what you want to achieve so that we can propose the best and most appropriate creative solutions. Organising it nicely with a proper flow to it will certainly help.
As duh and obvious as it sounds, continuous communications with a creative agency is vital for any brand, and by that, we mean having an open line and open mind to any clarifications or ideas we’ll run by you. That’s not an indication for micro-managing.
Don’t get us wrong, it’s fine to check in with your agency once in a while. But if you turn into a ‘clingy girlfriend’ type who is constantly bugging them with ‘What’re you doing now?’ and ‘Can we call and chat?’, it’s probably not healthy for your relationship and for the outcome. Creativity needs space, and micro-management is often the opposite of giving space. You engaged us, now trust us to get the job done.
The important thing is for you to clarify any doubts or information crucial for the development of creative solutions. Concerns and queries may occur at any part of the process, which is why being responsive and reactive to your agency can enhance and even speed up the process.
Video Conference Calls
Nothing can replace the connection you get through physical face-to-face communications. You can see the facial expressions, make eye contact and read body language that helps to better understand the intention and any subtext within the message.
It’s not exactly the same but video calls come pretty close though. There might be a bit of a lag (depending on your Internet connection), but you can still see a portion of what you get from physical meetings albeit not in the highest of quality.
Video calls also allow for use of real-time visual aids that can be effective in demonstrating any points you wish to highlight. In fact, we recommend conducting briefs through video conferences so that everyone can start off on the same page. It might be tiring and time-consuming, but it’s all for the best advertising campaign you can get.
Do keep the attire casual though, no one’s wearing a suit as you’re staying home in this weather so let’s skip the formalities.
(P.S. For more things related to staying home, check out our personal favourite #StayHome campaigns)
Since regular meetings and constant hounding is not an option, how can brands ensure and keep track of the progress by a creative agency? You do that by breaking down the tasks into different phases and establishing a timeline for each TOGETHER. (Sorry, a personal pet peeve of ours when clients set extremely tight timelines without consideration)
Look at the bigger picture and break the deliverable down into different phases, starting with the concept before moving into the sketch and finally, the full-on design. Each phase should be cleared internally with all of the required stakeholders before moving forward.
A helpful tool for managing timelines is the usage of a Gantt chart, which serves to track and manage the progress of the entire project while providing a clear overview in one glance. This keeps everyone on task and on the same page in terms of the deliverables and milestones of the project.
Sketch & References
Some things don’t quite translate well over text, especially in a highly visual world. Yes, words can paint a beautiful picture but there’re some visual elements and concept that you can’t explain with just words. It might end up overselling or underselling the final artwork.
Finding visual references to exemplify and aid with the explanations is something we found extremely useful. Although we’re creating new artwork and developing new designs, references to underscore your points or even just to show the emotion or visual styles can be beneficial for both parties.
If you can’t find any reference for that innovative idea you have, a sketch will definitely help. We understand not everyone has a hidden art talent like Picasso or Michelangelo (I mean SOME people in our team can’t even draw a horse), but a bad sketch is still better than no sketch when it comes to visualising the final outcome.
Engage With A Creative Agency That Knows The Best Practices
Whether it’s branding services or creative campaigns, our approach to delivering the best outcome for the brand never changes. We do that by identifying the right approach and communicating consistently with our partners, while infusing our own brand of creativity and detailed planning.
If you’re looking to engage a creative agency, why not us? You’re already into our content, so let us do wonders with your brand! We’re happy to e-meet you (;