Better Together: Collaboration Tips for Marketing and Creative Teams

February 20, 2019
By iQ Staff
Illustration of two heads with lines with a cloud of tangled lines between them.

When marketers and designers see eye to eye, it’s a beautiful thing. Marketing clearly outlines the campaign objectives, creative turns out a stunning design, and everyone, including the client, is happy and satisfied with the work.

But as most teams will agree, it isn’t always quite this easy. The road to client satisfaction is often paved with unclear feedback, tight deadlines and shifting scopes of work.

According to Visually, gaps in self-perception can lead marketers and creatives to view their own strengths and weaknesses differently. The result? Both sides end up feeling frustrated and unappreciated.

Here’s how marketing and creative can forge a positive symbiotic relationship and work better together.


The all-important creative brief

In many cases, the marketing team is on the front lines of communication, while the creative team operates behind the scenes. Marketing plays a critical role in gathering information and context gained by hours of sitting in meetings and brainstorming sessions, hearing the client or CEO talk about what they want to achieve, and distilling it into a creative brief.


The creative brief is a roadmap for the creative team. Like any map, the level of detail will determine whether the designer makes it to her destination or gets lost along the way.


Marketers, be sure your creative brief answers the following questions:

  • What’s the main objective? Why is the piece being created and what are we hoping to achieve with it? How does it fit into the larger picture?
  • What is the deliverable? Is it a printed piece, a digital file, a video or graphic? How will it be distributed/consumed? If it’s printed, how many copies are needed?
  • Who is the audience? What do we know about them, their needs and what they want from this piece?
  • What creative assets (images, logo, brand style guide) do we already have? What assets do we need to create or arrange for (e.g., photo or video shoot)?
  • What’s the inspiration for the piece? Does the client have a certain “look” or style in mind?
  • What’s the budget and deadline?


Controlling and communicating expectations

One of the biggest issues that strain relationships between the marketing team and creative department comes down to one word: expectations.

If a client or CEO wants a Mona Lisa but is only willing to allocate enough time and budget for a stick figure, he will inevitably end up being disappointed with the work of the creative team.

Marketers must balance the client’s demands with the reality of the creative process and tailor client expectations accordingly, or creative will never be able to deliver. Designers have their own responsibilities to ask the right questions, understand the scope of work, and provide their own expectations for delivering on time and on budget, such as requesting photos or other assets from the client.

An open line of communication between the marketing and creative teams allows both parties to understand what’s feasible and what’s not — and come up with alternative solutions to present to the client. Regularly scheduled check-ins also help keep design, timing, scope of work and budget on track.


Selling the idea

Ultimately, marketing and creative are working toward the same objective, whether it’s to satisfy the client or execute a successful campaign.

Once a design has been developed, creative and marketing can come together to discuss the main points of the piece, whether it meets the client’s needs, and the reasoning behind why certain design choices were made.

The creative team can also help their marketing counterparts sell the piece by presenting the idea in its application, such as a brochure mockup or beta website.

The opportunity to communicate the rationale behind creative decisions and communicate feedback openly helps both marketing and creative get on the same page when it comes to presenting the idea to the client.

Collaboration doesn’t have to be challenging. By respecting roles and communicating expectations, marketers and creators can work seamlessly together to fulfill their marketing objectives.


What are your biggest challenges in working with the marketing/creative team? As a marketer or creative, what would make collaboration easier?