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Learnings from the creative front-line

  • 04 May 2020 * By Paul Normington
  • Connect

At Kin + Carta Connect, creativity comes in many guises.

Our strategists, thinkers, designers and writers use their collective talents to solve client challenges with fresh thinking and dedicated creative craft.

We’ve grown accustomed to delivering under pressure. Pitches, proposals, last minute script rewrites - it’s a familiar story. Yet nothing prepared us for operating a large team separated by social distancing.

In the six weeks since we left the office – monitors and keyboards under our arms – we’ve adapted to a new way of working in isolation. Here are a few lessons we’ve learnt along the way.

Trust your instincts

Almost every client has needed us to respond quickly to get their messages out with compassion and brevity.

When faced with a continually changing brief and strategy, you must remember that your instincts are usually right. Your ideas are solid and your execution informed.

We’ve found that we must be more economical with our creative development. That’s why we’ve adopted more scamping, sketching and art directing through our iPhones - rather than sifting through pages of Getty stock.

We’ve had to act fast and brave with our ideas and solutions. And it’s worked.

Learn how we created a national campaign for The Co-op in a matter of days.

Act with authenticity

In a time of crisis, we risk forgetting the values which make us who we are. Not only our creative integrity, but the empathy and trust we exhibit as colleagues. 

When working in isolation fear creeps in and we stop believing in ourselves and each other. 

The same goes for the client brands we serve. It’s more important than ever we uphold the promises these businesses made to their customers, making them the successful brands they are. Communicating with the same brand voice, but perhaps, at the moment, in a slightly different tone… 

Their customers will find reassurance in a brand which acts with compassion and integrity in a time of uncertainty. And this will help underline their authenticity and strengthen the trust they have built, long into the future.

Be more disciplined than ever

In the first days of lockdown it became apparent there would be no more ‘jumping in a room’ for a quick WIP review. Being spontaneous and fluid in communication became difficult and so did our ability to concentrate. 

As a global business of 1600+ people, there’s a lot of Slacking and Zooming going on right now. And with that comes distraction, and an urge to over-communicate. Something I’ve fondly dubbed ‘Slack-a-Mole’.

As a team, we’ve needed to find new self-discipline. To give respect and space to others. To embrace the snoozing of notifications and plan our days with more rigour than ever before. 

This allows us to be more focused and trusting. Just because you can’t see each other, doesn’t mean you’re not pulling in the same direction. But it also means we value our time together more. 


Form squads

Another successful tactic is the concept of forming squads. Whilst coming together as a business and a department is important, 'too many cooks' has never been more relevant amongst project teams.  

At such a fast pace and with tight deadlines on the horizon, we’ve benefitted from creating little armies where everyone knows their role but develops a battle plan together. An army where communications are delivered clearly, promptly and efficiently. 

Embrace candid collaboration

When time isn’t on your side and delivery plans are turned on their head, you need to act with honesty and brevity to succeed. To make outputs the best they can be, without onerous rounds of reviews and deliberation.  

Recently we’ve started trialling methods adopted by Ed Catmull and his teams at Pixar. A concept called ‘Braintrust’. It puts culture at the centre of the work critique and creative development. Where honesty and unfiltered criticism are paramount. 

Fundamentally - “tell me what you think about my work - warts and all... I won’t be upset.” 

It’s helped us remove unnecessary indulgence - focusing on true creative innovation, while thinking more like an end-user or consumer. What’s not to like? 

Don't forget to have fun

After all, the best creative work is done when you’re enjoying it, right?
 
And it’s the humour that we’ve nurtured in our team relationships which has seen us better weather these weird times.

Seeing first-hand the random goings-on of our colleague’s neighbours, or tales of body parts locked in wooden boxes: the gallows humour has allowed us the respite from constant delivery and brought us closer together as people.

So when we finally see the whites of each other's eyes, I can’t imagine how it’s going to feel. Perhaps we’ll like it? Perhaps not?

But I'm reassured seeing that we’ve continued to create work that makes a difference. 

Work which has brought us closer together, while being so far apart.

If you’d like to know more about what’s been working for us and our clients over the past few weeks then we’d be very happy to chat.

Get in touch