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Creatives vs. Time
By: Tom Roarty
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Today it is almost impossible to keep up with all of the creative agencies opening and closing in pretty much every market. Just when you think you figured out which shops are starting to pull away from the pack and make a name for themselves, they mysteriously disappear. That leads to the question: What makes a company’s longevity possible? Unfortunately, there is no one answer or solution that can guarantee success for any business, but there are clear qualities of those who have stood the test of time.
Success starts with people. Is it the most talented people that secure a company’s longevity? Not really. Creative medias are constantly changing. Once you get a grasp on HTML, CSS takes off. Familiar with CSS, HTML5 hits the scene. If you started your digital design agency back in the ‘90s with the most elite group of web designers, if they did not keep up with the technology, chances are that shop no longer exists. The key is to find a group of ambitious employees who will be willing to learn as opposed to settling. In my experience, team chemistry is more important than skill alone.
Even with the best people in place, you still need the right leadership to get the most out of them. I have worked in places with a fantastic design team, but there was such weak leadership that the best those companies could have hoped for was to sustain, not make it to the next level. It is not how demanding management can be, it is how effective they can be. People work for different reasons, and if you’re a manager, you have to keep all those needs in mind. Although money may be considered one of the most desirable attributes of a job, recognition and respect are both highly rated as well. The best thing? Those two are free and make a huge impact.
Diversity of clients and their needs also go a long way. Early on in my career, I worked for a company that only ever dealt in print advertising and vowed to never stray form that media since that was the catalyst to its success. Today that company no longer exists. It can be a powerful marketing tool to say you are the company that specializes in a specific type of clientele, but in time, all businesses have to be open to growth opportunities that may have been out of its original business plan. The inability to adapt with a changing creative landscape is a guaranteed way to eventually fade away.
Great staff, the right management, and the ability and desire to adapt still do not guarantee success, but they do assure you that your business will last longer than if you did not have those pieces in place. Fighting for jobs, clients, and respect is what we do as creatives every day, and all too often our ability to reach our goals is spoiled by some simple element that could have been resolved if we just knew where to look. But with each failed attempt, we learn what hasn’t worked and remove it from the equation. It’s the people and companies that learn to do this that one day realize they have stood the test of time.

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