Creative Direction Process 101: The Basic Stuff You Need to Know

The creative direction process is the unsung hero of designing your brand identity. The term “brand identity”, refers to the visual elements that make your brand memorable, recognizable, and cohesive. Think logo, color palette, typography, media, etc. 

  • How will your brand have a distinct look and feel that is unlike any other?
  • What makes your brand look interesting and enticing to your target audience?
  • How do you plan to stay up-to-date with design trends?

If you’re drawing a blank on these questions, it’s time to take a stroll through the basics of the creative direction process.

In this article, we’ll break down what the creative direction process is, what steps are involved, and what actions to take in order to up-level your brand aesthetic.

Welcome to Creative Direction Process 101: All the Basics You Need to Know. Class is now in session!

Lesson 1 – Why the Creative Direction Process Is Essential to a Brand’s Success.

At its core, creative direction is a layer of the brand development process. And this layer is responsible for designing the concepts that will manifest as:

  • the brand identity
  • marketing campaigns
  • content
  • and so much more 

A brand’s creative direction process involves many different elements in the arenas of art, design, and strategy. There are many facets to establishing a strong visual identity and aesthetic for a brand. Therefore, the creative direction essentially brings order, consistency, aesthetics, and intrigue to the many elements of a brand’s identity.

When your brand has a clear, unique, and consistent aesthetic, it increases the perceived value of your brand. Why? Because it improves how your brand is perceived. Without a creative direction, a brand could easily wind up looking like an art room exploded.

At the end of the day, the creative direction process establishes:

  • the visuals of the brand, how it looks through design as well as your personal style
  • guidelines on how to apply the principles of graphic design to your concept
  • research on how your concept affects your audience 
  • a prediction for how your visuals will change how your brand is perceived

Want to learn more about how to improve your brand perception (or just learn what it is in the first place)? 

Looking to strengthen your personal style as a component of your brand’s creative direction? Check out these articles:

Lesson 2 – The Many Layers of the Creative Direction Process.

Your brand identity, marketing campaigns, advertisements, and content need to be relevant, enticing, and cohesive in order to create brand recognition. And because your target audience’s tastes and preferences will change over time, your brand’s creative direction needs to evolve in tandem.

How does the creative direction process accomplish these goals? In a multi-layered process that includes: 

  • forecasting current and anticipated design trends
  • deciding which trends to use and how to make them your own
  • mood board for overall creative direction
  • guidelines for how to execute all visual elements
  • specifications for which visual elements will be the brand identifiers

Lesson 3 – How to Get Started With Your Own Creative Direction Process.

In our opinion, mood boards are the most accessible (and let’s be honest, fun) tool for making decisions about your brand’s creative direction process. 

Especially if trend forecasting and specifying your brand identifiers feel over your head, mood boards are a highly effective way to see the big picture of your brand visuals all in one place.

If possible, we recommend creating a physical mood board by tapping images to a wall, gluing them to a poster board, or even getting a big corkboard and using push pins.

The ability to move images around with your hands and create new combinations will help you establish a creative direction that not only excites you but excites your target audience.

Pro tip: create multiple mood boards so you have options to choose from. Better yet, use your social media presence to poll your audience so you’re going directly to the source.

Lesson 4 – How Often You Should Revisit Your Creative Direction Process.

The key to effective revisions is to look for places where your brand could be more “on-pulse”, more distinct, and more appealing to your community.

Ideally, you should revise your creative direction once a year in order to ensure your brand is visually relevant given new trends, changes to your target audience, or pivots in your brand. 

Keep in mind that revisions don’t need to be complete overhauls of your brand. In fact, they shouldn’t be unless you are going through a process of “re-branding”.

To make revisions to your creative direction even more simple, start with a brand identity audit for a thorough understanding of how you can improve your visual communication.

Pro tip: here’s A Quick And Dirty Guide To Performing a Brand Identity Audit

Congratulations! You have successfully passed Creative Direction Process 101: All the Basics You Need to Know. 

Oftentimes, entrepreneurs without much experience working with brand and website designers have a hard time describing exactly what they are looking for in their brand’s visual identity. But not you!

Equipped with an understanding of what the creative direction process is, and an understanding of why it’s important, you will be prepared to get the best results from the brand designers you hire throughout the lifespan of your business. 

If this article on the creative direction process has you pumped to revamp your own brand identity, feel free to browse the Wild Womn Haus team of brand designers to find your next hire! 

If getting support with your Brand Launch Communication is your next step, we invite you to book a Complimentary 30-minute Call with our founder and lead brand strategist, Tristan Thibodeau, who can fill you in on how the WWH team can ensure your next launch is a huge success. 

Ready to book a Complimentary 30-minute Call? Click here to schedule!

Photo of the author of this blog

About the Author

Tristan Thibodeau is the founder of Wild Womn Haus and is the brand strategist for entrepreneurs in the wellness, beauty, and lifestyle brand industries. 

She specializes in helping companies create and maintain their image. She works with market research, industry analysis, and consumer trends to offer strategic insights for brands so that they can enhance their marketing efforts and grow their bottom line. 

Tristan also hosts The Wild Womn Hotline, which is a podcast that features expert-level conversations for growing your brand in bold and strategic ways. Follow her on Instagram @tristan.wildwomnhaus and follow the agency on Instagram @wildwomnhaus and TikTok @tristan.wildwomnhaus!

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