It’s hard to know what makes a good creative strategist. You know it when you see it, and I’ve been fortunate enough to work for and with many brilliant strategists, but you’ll rarely see two great strategists who are exactly the same. However, I believe there are 3 qualities that are shared by all the best creative strategists, and they’re all qualities you can work on if you want to improve your strategic abilities.
From the complexities of custody banking to the simple joy of toys, I’ve found myself delving into a multitude of different industries, and there is always something fascinating to discover.
Empathy is now widely accepted as being vital in a modern workplace. It is a key quality for leaders and, unsurprisingly, vital in creative companies that rely on collaboration between different teams. It is, without a doubt, a must-have for creative strategists, and the best strategists I’ve worked with have it in spades. This is for two reasons. Firstly, it’s our job to understand people, and empathy is all about being able to see things from other people’s points of view. Secondly, it often falls on strategists to make the connection between the clients’ reality and the creatives’ vision and to navigate the challenging journey from business strategy to creative execution.
Curiosity, both inherent and developed, is a common trait of the best strategic thinkers I’ve worked with. All strategists are curious about certain things, but the best strategists are interested in everything, no matter how dull it might seem. From the complexities of custody banking to the simple joy of toys, I’ve found myself delving into a multitude of different industries, and there is always something fascinating to discover. The best strategists are those whose eyes light up at the prospect of learning something new, no matter how dry it may seem, as they’re the ones who will uncover the nuggets that will inspire creatives and connect with the audience.
It’s pretty easy to be a lazy strategist. You find a few data points, write something pithy and pass it on to the creatives to transform into something great. However, a lazy strategy is never a great strategy. As my first boss taught me, the real work starts after you’ve uncovered that thought-provoking something. It lies in questioning your hypothesis, poking holes, iterating and continuing to dig for information until you know your strategy can withstand questions from even the most discerning client. It lies in working and reworking your story until it is simple, inspiring and grounded in proof. Many creative strategists are naturally intelligent, but in my experience no-one is intelligent enough to bypass perseverance.
There are many other qualities in a creative strategist that didn’t make this list: the ability to really listen, simplifying complexity and remembering that a brief is nothing if it doesn’t help your creative team being among them.
If you think your team or company could use some support in creating standout strategies, please get in touch and let’s chat about how we might help.