Creative Direction

What is creative direction?

Creative direction is the branch of brand development that deals with the concepts around a brand. It’s the ideas that become a reality in the form of logos, advertising campaigns, marketing materials and more. It can be hard to define because rather than being one thing, it’s a combination of many elements, including:

  • Art – the visuals of the brand, how it looks
  • Design – applying the principles of graphic design to your concept
  • Strategy – how your concept affects your audience and changes the perception of your brand

As a practical example, think of a world-famous brand like Coca-Cola. Over years and decades, it’s creative direction that has come up with the red can, the distinctive logo and its iterations over the years, its Christmas ads that run every year. All the individual pieces of branding, marketing and advertising that Coca-Cola does will all fit with its creative direction.

However, creative direction is not just for big brands like Coke. From a design for a flyer, to a new logo, to a total redesign of a website, it works better when you have an overarching concept in play.

Icons for Healthcare

What does a creative director do?

A creative director is usually in charge of this aspect of brand development. They will run the process of formulating the concept for the brand and its marketing. They will also oversee its implementation, ensuring consistency and that any variations are still ‘on brand’. They will generally oversee the art director, who will look after the visuals for the brand.

Why you need creative direction

As mentioned before, the world’s biggest and most successful companies have used creative direction over long periods of time to build a brand and connect with their audience on a massive scale. It would not have been possible to do this without it. Without a winning concept behind their brand, their visual presence and marketing activity would be disjointed and inconsistent.

Even smaller businesses will find benefits from taking a more strategic, thoughtful approach to their branding. Whether it’s the consistent use of a colour that makes your audience think in a certain way (dark blue is associated with professionalism and trust, for example), or a strapline that you can use across your site and marketing materials, you can make creative direction work for you.


 29% of consumers regard creativity as the most important attribute of a brand – source 


 90% of users want to see consistent branding across all channels and platforms – source 


 80% of consumers believe colour is an essential part of brand recognition – source 

How to do creative direction

It’s hard to be your own creative director, because of the training and experience you need in design and strategy. However, if you want to get deep into the concepts of your brand, here are some questions you should think about:

  • Who are your customers? – What sorts of people buy your product? Your creative concept must directly appeal to them.
  • What do you want your customers to think about you? – What do you want to tell your audience about your business? Are you a forward-looking, modern business, or homely and nostalgic? Your art and design can sow these seeds in your audience’s mind.
  • What are your long-term aims? – You want to sell more products, but you may have other goals, such as repositioning your company at the upper end of the market.

If you need some expert help, it’s time to talk to March.

Swingtag Design

Case Study: Creative Direction for The Healthy Back Bag