We caught up with Michael Smith, Creative Director and co-owner of Clout Branding with a background in brand design. We found out about his career journey so far, asked for a few hints and tips to grow and gain this expertise and we also asked what it takes from an employer to secure such talent.
ADLIB: How would you define Branding as a skill in the context of being a Creative?
Michael Smith: It takes a lot more than just being creative. Forget it if you think branding is logo design. You need to be able to bridge the gap in understanding between an organisations growth strategy, ambition and the translation of this aspiration through the brand and creative strategy.
ADLIB: ‘Branding’ is one of your skills. What has been your career journey so far, leading you to this skill in particular?
Michael Smith: I’ve worked at both design and branding agencies. Branding allows us to be on the front line with key decision makers in an organisation. It can be incredibly challenging at times but really rewarding when it comes together. As brand designers we can be instrumental to change in an organisation, we can influence the direction of travel for a business or brand, and that is really exciting.
ADLIB: Why do you think Creatives with this background are in such high demand?
Michael Smith: I think there are a lot of great graphic designers out there, but those with the ability and experience to understand strategy are harder to find. I’m not so sure design courses put enough emphasis on this either.
ADLIB: If Creatives don’t currently have any branding knowledge but would like to gain some, what is your recommendation to get started?
Michael Smith: There’s nothing quite like experience. A lot of what we do is instinctive and that comes more easily with experience. So, I’d say do whatever it takes to get the right agency experience. Then listen, observe and learn.
ADLIB: And what is your recommendation for those wanting to improve/ keep up to date with developments?
Michael Smith: If you have a genuine interest in brand design, you’ll naturally want to know everything and you’ll find a way. Other than that, following the top brand agencies, tuning into blogs, go and see a talk etc.
ADLIB: Having a skill that is in such high demand, what factors (have in the past or would in theory) influence your choice when considering offers from potential employers?
Michael Smith: For me the most important factor would be the diversity of work on offer and the agency’s aspirations to do innovative, award winning work. Knowing that you did an outstanding piece of work that made a difference is really fulfilling.
Thanks for the chat Mike!
About Clout Branding: Clout is an internationally award-winning strategic creative agency. We work with CEOs and leadership teams to help organisations overcome their business challenges through formidable brand communications.
This piece previously appeared on the ADLIB Blog.