Unpacking the role of a creative strategist: skills, evolving marketing trends, and a peek into the exciting future of brand strategy.
Ever wondered who’s behind those unforgettable ad campaigns? Welcome to the world of creative strategy, where creativity meets data-driven decisions. This blog will be microscoping the role and skills of the masterminds behind all those successful campaigns.
Grab a cuppa ☕ and let’s unpack!
What is a creative strategist, and what do they do?
Think of your brand as a book. Every book contains a story. Similarly, each brand has its narrative. While a writer crafts words to captivate readers, a creative strategist shapes how a brand shares its story with consumers. At the heart of a creative strategist’s role is ensuring the brand's story feels authentic to its target audience.
So, how do they ensure the brand’s story is communicated perfectly every time? Let’s look at their playbook.
1. Market and competitor research
Have you heard the phrase, "Keep your friends close, but your competitors closer"? This still holds gravitas in the world of advertising. Strategists spend a chunk of their time in market research, keeping track of competitors’ moves.
Remember when you noticed everyone suddenly switching to oat milk in their coffees? We suddenly saw companies everywhere scramble to jump onto the health-conscious trend. That was no accident. Creative strategists working for different brands picked up on this rising interest and quickly jumped onto the bandwagon with their marketing strategies to cater to this new consumer preference.
So, you could say that creative strategists help businesses stand out so they don't get left behind or, worse, become completely invisible.
2. Conceptualizing creative strategy and briefs
Having a collection of data is great, but it’s only valuable when you know what to do with it. Not knowing how to translate data into a winning creative strategy is like having a cupboard full of ingredients when you don’t know how to cook. It’s pointless!
That's where creative strategists come in. They not only create the "recipe" or blueprint for the brand's messaging, but they also draft design briefs for the design team. These briefs serve as a guide, detailing the goals, vision, and all the elements required to ensure that the content aligns perfectly with the final strategy.
3. Collaborating with designers and overseeing the execution
So, you’ve nailed down a brilliant strategy! The next challenge? Bringing that vision to life. While creative strategists might not always be in the spotlight, they work very closely with designers, copywriters, and creative directors. Their role at this point is to make sure the final piece, be it an ad campaign or a social media post, doesn't just look good but also genuinely speaks to its intended audience and tells the brand's story accurately.
4. Creative performance evaluation and strategy optimization
Once the marketing campaign has gone live, it’s time to analyze its performance. Did people love it or loathe it? This is where analytics come in.
A creative strategist doesn't just wash their hands off an ad campaign after it goes live. They have to monitor its performance. If that oat milk campaign from earlier didn’t bring in the expected traffic of health-conscious consumers, it’s back to the drawing board. They have to assess what worked and what didn’t work and then optimize for better results. It's a constant cycle of researching, executing, evaluating, and optimizing.
So, the next time you stare in awe at a brilliant marketing campaign, you might just have a creative strategist to thank 😉
Why do you need a creative strategist?
If you’re still sitting on the fence about needing a creative strategist for your company or business, allow me to shine more light on why they’re essential:
- Streamline creative workflow for maximum efficiency
Ever driven to an unfamiliar area without navigation? That's how most creative teams feel without a creative strategist. A creative strategist is like that friend who always has a plan when you're lost. They map out the process for more structure and less back-and-forth, creating a workflow that’s smooth and efficient.
- Improve marketing campaign results
We’ve established that a well-executed campaign isn't just about creativity; it also rides on strategy. A beautiful ad will catch the eyes, but it's the underlying strategy that turns those eyes into engaged customers. Here are a few ways a creative strategist can improve your campaign results:
- Develop a deeper understanding of your audience: They tap into consumer behavior to create emotionally resonant campaigns.
- Make data-driven choices: They partner with data analysts to tailor campaigns based on actual trends and responses.
- Ensure message consistency: They guarantee a unified brand message across all platforms and mediums.
- Adapt to change: They monitor and adjust campaigns in real-time to ensure they remain effective in a constantly evolving market.
- Allocate resources wisely: They guide brands on the creative direction to take for the most significant impact and return on investment.
- Foster innovation and growth
A creative strategist isn’t just about following trends; they're about setting them.
This proactive thinking pushes the brand to explore uncharted territories, leading to fresh ideas and, eventually, growth. If you want to not just keep up in your industry but to trailblaze, you might want to consider cozying up with a creative strategist!
Recommended software solutions for your creative strategist
- Madgicx’s Creative Workflow - This is a one-stop ad creation solution that guides you from the initial idea to the final launch of your ad campaign. Browse and save Meta ad inspiration in Madgicx's Ad Library, then send a brief via Sparkle with your ad references. Receive designs in 48 hours. Once done, they're automatically uploaded to Meta Ads Manager, allowing you to launch your ads either from there or directly via Madgicx. And the best part is that the Madgicx Ad Library is completely free! You can start a Madgicx trial, and the Ad Library stays FREE FOREVER!
- Canva - This platform is leveling the playing field, empowering everyone from design newbies to professionals to produce high-quality content without a graphic design background.
- Meta Ad Library - This lets you easily check out current and past Facebook and Instagram ads from any brand. Whether you're researching competitors or seeking ad inspiration, the Meta Ad Library is your go-to resource.
Understanding the skill set of a creative strategist
- Creative and analytical skills
You'd think the title 'creative strategist' is all about imaginative thinking, right? Sure, they need to be imaginative and innovative, but it’s equally important for them to be sharp and analytical. The natural ability to dissect data and understand which ideas will resonate with the audience sets them apart from other strategists.
- Effective communication and teamwork
Remember playing the 'whisper game' in school, where a message gets passed down the line and ends up hilariously distorted? In the world of marketing campaigns, that’s a no-no. A creative strategist needs to articulate ideas clearly, ensuring the vision doesn't get lost when the creative team gets to work.
- Understanding of market trends
Creative strategists can’t be stuck in the past; they need to be in the know, picking up on the latest trends in the market. From TikTok dance crazes to eco-friendly products, they need to understand what the audience is craving right now and how the brand can align with that. It’s not enough to be able to hop on the bandwagon; strategists have to figure out which ones are worth hopping onto!
- Financial and business knowledge and understanding
Money talks, and a creative strategist listens intently. They bridge the gap between creativity and business outcomes, making sure marketing strategies are just as profitable as they are innovative. There are business implications of each decision, and strategists help make choices that boost the company’s bottom line.
- Organization and the ability to plan
Juggling multiple projects is not easy, but for a creative strategist, it's just another casual day at the company. Their planning skills are impeccable, ensuring everyone’s aligned in the same goal and no detail, no matter how tiny, is overlooked.
While this might sound intangible, it sits at the core of a creative strategist’s role. Using market research, they draw inspiration from the world around them, from competitors to a random conversation at a coffee shop. This ability to draw inspiration from everywhere is what ensures their work remains fresh, innovative, and in tune with the business landscape, specifically the target audience.
Creative strategist job description sample
If you were slipping into the shoes of a creative strategist or thinking of hiring one for your next campaign, here's a sneak peek of what the job description might look like:
You'll help create and oversee our creative plans, campaigns, and content promotion. Your role involves working with different teams and managing connections with both inside and outside partners to achieve our main business and marketing aims. You'll also make sure we review content correctly to meet our targets, which will guide our next moves. You should be ready to work with a team and turn research, brand aims, and overall plans into creative solutions that work.
- Think of and create top-notch strategies that fit our client's needs.
- Create clear creative strategy roadmaps, campaigns, and regular content for our brand.
- Stay informed about digital content, social media best practices, trends, and spot marketing opportunities.
- Conceptualize and share new creative ideas to hit our social media aims, presenting these ideas clearly to our team members in different departments.
- Stay updated on the latest marketing methods.
- Guide the planning, making, running, checking, and improving of social marketing projects in different regions, using data at each step.
- Monitor campaigns and propose edits and improvements when needed.
- Ensure our strategies have the best effect on our brand, checking insights and ideas all the time while considering our goals and chances.
- A degree in Business, Communication, or Marketing is a plus - or relevant work experience, especially in tech, creative marketing, or social media agencies.
- Over 5 years of work in social media planning and marketing.
- Love for technology, sharing videos online, digital ways, and recent social trends.
- Ability to think both smartly and creatively in a constantly changing social media world.
- A history of making strong digital plans and running unique campaigns that hit their aims.
- Strong skill in checking results and guiding future online content and digital actions. Knowing social media data tools is a plus.
- Can decide what needs to be done now and what can wait.
- Good at managing projects, focusing on quality and details.
- Experience in working with creative groups and in-house teams for media tasks.
Bonus: How to become a creative strategist
If you've made it this far in the blog, perhaps I've tickled your curiosity. Considering a career in creative strategy for yourself? Let’s look at the steps you can take.
- Necessary education and training:
Many creative strategists begin with a bachelor’s degree in marketing, communications, or similar. However, if you already possess some experience in the field or other skills such as design or media buying, courses or certifications, such as the Meta Certified Creative Strategy Professional, can be a great way to build upon what you know. This certification covers mobile fundamentals, application of insights, brief creation, and evaluation of ad effectiveness.
- Gaining relevant experience:
Surrounding yourself with creative strategy professionals in the industry will expose you to real-world challenges and solutions.
If you don’t have the necessary background to jump straight into the creative strategist role, you could also try getting involved with strategic projects at your current company. The more you immerse yourself, the more familiar you will be with the role. Plus, you'll be in a prime position to snag it if an opening comes up. Just saying!
- Creative strategist salary:
Starting salaries are often competitive, and as you grow within the role, so does your remuneration. Salaries can vary based on factors such as location and experience. Additionally, employment arrangements might differ based on nationality or country of origin, influenced by variations in living costs and other economic factors. Stay updated by checking platforms like Glassdoor or Payscale to get a sense of what the market offers.
- Growing within the role:
- Potential career progressions:
You could grow into a brand manager, marketing director, creative director, or even chief marketing officer role. For those who are interested in entrepreneurship, launching your own consultancy or agency is an equally exciting direction.
The future of creative strategists
One thing is clear: this career is far from static! As brands constantly adapt to the shifts in consumer behavior, tech advancements, and global trends, creative strategists will remain on the frontlines, spearheading these exciting changes. Let's take a look at what the future might hold for them:
Emerging trends in creative strategy
- Data-driven creativity:
With the rise of big data and AI, creative strategies will become more data-informed. This doesn't mean creativity will be stifled. Instead, data will guide creativity. For instance, our recent blog post on Top Facebook Updates to Get Excited About (2023 Edition) keeps you up-to-date with the ever-evolving digital landscape. Such insights are invaluable for strategists who want to stay ahead of the curve.
- Sustainability and social responsibility:
The modern consumer is conscious of global issues. Brands are now being held accountable for their societal and environmental impacts. Creative strategists will need to craft marketing campaigns that highlight a brand's commitment to these positive changes.
- Diversification and inclusion:
The world is culturally diverse, and so should be the narratives spun by brands. Creative strategists will continue to play a pivotal role in shaping inclusive campaigns for brands.
- Interactive and immersive experiences:
With augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) making waves, brands have new mediums to explore. Creative strategists are going to be the ones crafting campaign strategies that tap into these tech wonders, offering up more immersive brand experiences. Pretty exciting, right?
The evolving role of a creative strategist
As the nature of advertising and branding changes, so will the role of the creative strategist. They will no longer just be the brains behind a campaign but will need to:
- Integrate technology:
The creative strategist of the future will have to be tech-savvy, understanding these emerging platforms and how to get the most out of them.
- Collaborate across disciplines:
The lines between departments are blurring. Tomorrow's creative strategist will need to work closely with prompt engineers, data scientists, tech teams, and even finance departments to develop 360-degree strategies.
- Stay educated:
With the industry changing at lightning speed, constant learning will be crucial. Whether it's new digital platforms, digital technology, or shifts in consumer behavior, being adaptable will be non-negotiable.
- Ethical consideration:
More than ever, creative strategists will need to be aware of the ethical implications of their strategies, ensuring they’re always in line with societal values, new norms, and the evolving policies of platforms such as Meta.
To sum it up, a creative strategist is like that friend who’s both the life of the party and the one who remembers where everyone left their jackets. They blend creativity with analytics, have a knack for clear communication, and always have a finger on the pulse of the latest trends. Considering their massive role, isn’t it time to bring one to the table or maybe even transition to one yourself?
Madgicx's Creative Workflow is the all-in-one solution your brand needs to create constantly converting ads. From ad inspiration to creating pinpoint design briefs and launching ads, we've got ad production covered—all under one roof!
Digital copywriter with a passion for sculpting words that resonate in a digital age.