3 tips for building successful creative relationships

James Greenfield of DesignStudio shares some insights into building good working relationships in the creative industry.

James Greenfield of DesignStudio

I recently spent an afternoon speaking at the DBA (the trade association for design in the UK) on the power of personal branding. I covered how the core principles in place at DesignStudio underline every conversation with clients and wanted to share the insights that came away from this.

So here are my top three tips for creating successful working relationships in the creative industry...

01. Know the power of the personal brand

Belief shines ­– as soon as you meet someone new they should know what you stand for. When meeting any client they should have a sense of expectation of what you are going to present and who you are.

At DesignStudio we often refer to the quote by Amazon founder, Jeff Bezos: 'your brand is what people say about you when you are not in the room'. This can also be applied to what your clients say about you when you are not in the room.

Don't surprise people in a bad way.

02. Avoid an 'us and them' attitude

Having an 'us-and-them' divide between your team and the client is the most destructive thing to business relationships. Bridging the gap and understanding that your clients are human can help inspire them about the work and build long term trust.

We look to disrupt the thought process of our clients and get them to consider and think about their own businesses in new ways.

03. Take pains to understand each other

There is no doubt in my mind that design is best done in a team. To make sure your team is all working together towards the same goal you need to understand the function of all the people inside your business and how all their strengths and values work together to become a whole.

This is why a proposition and values are important. We use the proposition that 'through creativity anything is possible', everyone in the agency knows the values that sit behind this and know this is what we adhere to – leading us all to the sense of understanding who we are as an agency and what we are trying to achieve.

Every member of the creative team needs to understand the work before it is shown to the client, we question and stress test everything before it is sent out the door. Every stroke, every pixel, typeface and colour is there for a reason – it's not arbitrary, it's considered and every member of the team has to understand why it is there.

In the end people need a reason to believe and everyone needs a flag to salute. It doesn't matter what it looks like but it's important that everyone in the business is saluting the same flag.

Words: James Greenfield

Executive creative director at DesignStudio, James Greenfield has worked at some of London's leading studios with some of the world's biggest brands including Microsoft, MTV, Nike and Getty Images. He has rebranded a number of large organisations and worked in various disciplines including brand, interiors and digital.