The Pretty Creative Process

Sandra Meek
13th December '13

From establishing the problem to delivery and full rollout, with strategy, creative direction and production in between, this is an overview of our creative process here at Pretty.

We’ve recently taken you through the initial stages of working with new clients - from Understanding Clients to Creating User Stories - but today we want to share the whole creative process from start to finish. This overall process remains much the same, whether for a small or large project, and is particularly well reflected in some recent brand & advertising work we’ve done for financial trading company, City Credit Capital.

Stage 1: Define the brief

The first step in any project is to discover and then understand the problem that needs solving. This isn’t always obvious or what we expect, however it is critical to creating the right end product, so we like to meet face to face to discuss the problem and to develop a creative brief. At these face to face meetings we start at the beginning and ask, discuss and answer a number of questions such as:

  • What is business is about?
  • Who is the target audience?
  • What needs to be communicated?
  • What are the technical requirements?
  • What is the expected outcome?

In the case of City Credit Capital, they needed a set of banner advertisements that would appeal to a high end, Indian and Pakistani market, which developed their current brand in a direction they could take forward into other digital touch points and that positioned them as a trading company offering execution excellence. Such specific requirements set out the beginnings of a plan - it was clear that any messaging would have to be global and that concepts would have to take the company in a new direction, pushing their brand forward into its next phase.

Stage 2: Research & Strategy

Once we have defined the creative brief we begin researching and understanding the business, the brand and the audience in detail. The extent of this research depends on the client’s budget but we find the more research which can be undertaken, the better the end product.

If the client is new to Pretty, we work to understand them and their business in depth first and gather as much data and information as possible. Once that has been done, we review the current brand elements and guidelines before developing a specific brand narrative, brand behaviours and brand expressions. This leads us onto considering the target audience fully by creating audience personas.

We had many conversations with City Credit Capital to discuss their company, brand and their audience. Visiting a business’s office is often a good way of getting an insight into a company, it gives us a chance to see how they use their current brand in a real setting, what values they work by day to day and how they interact at different levels. Using this information, we could then go away and conduct further research into the market and audience, and
start to develop the strategy both conceptually and visually.

Stage 3: Creative Concepts

Building on Phases 1 & 2, as a team we brainstorm and develop a range of different creative options which could lead us to the final product.
We start with a wide range of approaches and ideas and through internal discussions, critiques and reviews we whittle them down until we have a core selection of creative routes to present and discuss with the client. These are often very different both conceptually and visually, but are always rooted in the brand’s core values discussed and defined in earlier phases.

For City Credit Capital, we presented three very different advertising campaigns, combining strategy, conceptual thinking, copywriting and visual execution, all based on their core brand concepts of trading excellence, technical robustness and calm thinking.

Stage 4: Creative Refining

Sometimes its hard to take but we really value and encourage honest feedback from our clients, which is what stage 4 is all about. It is vital to ensure this stage happens because it saves time and helps us produce the right solution in the long run. Once we’ve received this feedback we then develop the agreed creative route further so we are ready to take it forward in the right direction.

Stage 5: Production

Once the final creative route has been agreed, the team can begin production. The creative brief and route is developed into the required formats inline with the technical specification. Throughout production, we continue to monitor and measure the effectiveness of the product, as campaigns can be refined and developed depending on the data we get back along the way.

City Credit Capital’s final banners were rolled out across various Asian financial websites in November 2013. Such was the success of the banner advertising, that we extended the concept into trade show stands and printed promotional material to create a cohesive advertising campaign.