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Who's On Your Team? How to Properly Staff an Internal Creative Team

Posted: | Author: for Creatives On Call

Coworkers working at a table.

Who should be on your creative team? The answer isn’t as obvious as you might think. Below, we’ve outlined the core positions that work together to create a strong team for a corporation that handles the bulk of their organization’s creative work and communications in-house. If you’re in the process of validating your in-house team — or creating a new one — read on.

An executive creative director oversees the development of and upholds all creative content for a company and its brands; she also creates and/or refines brand standards for corporate identity and company communications. Materials under her purview may include traditional (broadcast and print), in-store, digital, social and more. She sets the brand direction and directs the team to uphold its execution. 

The art director creates the vision for and sets the standards for all things visual. He works with the executive creative director to create, maintain or update corporate branding, in addition to the design of any sub-brands, company communications or other marketing materials. He oversees the company’s designers and ensures they carry out a top-notch and consistent brand vision. He may also create the company’s visual brand standards, working with the editor to execute them across all communication.

A copywriter, under the guidance of the executive creative director, produces copy for any and all company needs, including email and website marketing, digital, print and more. Depending on your company’s size and needs, you may employ several copywriters, or even several teams, which would each then be led by a creative director of copy. 

A designer, guided by the art director or executive creative director, executes the designs for print and digital marketing materials as needed. As with copywriters, the number of designers scales up easily; you’d then also want to hire more art directors, or parse out managing duties to senior-level designers. 

An editor maintains your house style guide and brand standards; she also proofreads all materials, digital and print, prior to publication, to ensure consistency and accuracy. She also performs quality checks on internal and external work including board presentations and client communication. 

A developer (or team of developers) executes the tactical requirements of any web or email marketing. She also creates banner ads and other digital marketing tactics as needed. She may be managed by either the executive creative director or the art director, who she works with frequently and closely on design. 

A social media manager owns social for your company and any associated brands; it is her job to create and post content for your organization’s social channels and manage the community response to them. Because she is the voice of the brand on social, she works closely with the executive creative director to create messaging that is creative, compelling and consistent. Her role is a combination of creative (content production) and strategy (testing, reporting results for each channel). 

A project manager creates work plans, sets schedules and budgets, and oversees project work to make sure it’s finished on time and well. Importantly, he may also be the one to liaise with freelance or temporary workers when the team needs to scale up their resources for a big project.

Other considerations

Be diverse. Don’t fall prey to the assumption that your designer must be a 25-year-old hipster. Research shows that diverse teams perform better (in measurable financial returns!) than homogenous ones. 

Tailor your team to your company’s needs. An e-commerce company will need a deeper bench of developers; similarly, a company with several sub-brands that all require daily email marketing messaging might need two or three teams of designers, each headed by an art director and/or creative director. 

Be nimble. Don’t be dogmatic about each person’s role on your team. Have a designer who’s interested in UX, even though you’ve previously outsourced that work? Lean into it. Likewise, building a core of available freelancers or permalancers who do quality work allow you to scale up for big projects as needed while remaining agile and efficient year-round. 

Even if you plan to outsource some of your creative and/or marketing work, you’ll be well-served to establish a talented team of people devoted to the creative excellence of your organization. Through the creative work and messaging they put into the world, your internal creative team represents who your organization is and what it stands for. Make it great!

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