When I was a young buck starting out in NYC, design and art direction referred mainly to print and TV spots (we’re not talking the Mad Men era here, just a few years ago). ‘The creative’, spoken about in hushed terms, was done by a mystical team toiling away in a closed-off room.
Now, of course, digital offers creators endless possibilities to continuously create content and experiences that connect customers and brands like never before. And it’s a diverse group of people working as a team to make it happen. But it’s still about craft and creating meaningful experiences.
At the recent D&AD New Blood Festival it was exciting to see the new generation of makers crafting fabulous graphic and communication design, scratching the surface of interesting cultural and social topics. But what was truly inspiring and energising was an increase in students designing and developing with digital to create experiences. That increase wasn’t just reflected in the work, but in the diversity of digital-centric organisations and topics that were represented, including VR and experiential.
So as a digital native and creator, I think it’s safe to say that our moment is definitely right now. ‘The Creative’ is no longer wedded to art directors and copywriters create the next 30-second spot or paid media blitz. Rather, they work alongside experience designers, creative technologists, UX writers, product specialists, 360 video operators, community managers, ethnographers, content strategists and thousands of other variants required to create products, services and communications that people want and need.
For example, when we delivered the Eat Happy Project for Tesco, it wasn’t just designers and devs building a website. It was content creators creating activities and videos. It was a broadcast team filming live. It was community management liaising with teachers and schools to get more than a million children involved.
Likewise, when we helped online start-up Boxt disrupt the boiler business, it wasn’t just a website; it was helping a business get off the ground and running in 11 weeks. It was about pure digital branding. It was about creating an identity and crafting a tone of voice for a brand new company.
For me, the most meaningful aspect of our fringe event was the questions we were asked after the talk. Questions about the research we did to understand our customers and deliver our projects. And the ways in which we communicated and persuaded our clients that this was the right business decision.
That was incredibly encouraging. It’s inspiring to know that there’s a new generation of makers who want to use data and insight to craft meaningful experiences: ‘the new creative’.
Zone’s chief creative officer, Dan Harvey, and I hosted the fringe event ‘Thinking and Making’ as part of the festival, during which we shared our vision of how digital offers makers the opportunity to deliver more than just art and copy. It was encouraging that our audience understood the value and meaning behind what we produce.
And when we spoke about the broad range of opportunities we have to craft with output like apps, websites, chatbots, interactive videos, booking services, social media, personas, experience stories and so on, the room filled with interest and excitement. That’s what the new creative stands for: crafting digital communication and experiences for every part of the journey for customers and businesses.