Not all Creative Projects are Created Equal

Blog Posts - May 24, 2016

Alex Varricchio

True or false? Every new creative project that comes through the door represents an opportunity to break the mold, blow the client’s mind or win an award.

If you think this is true, then the following three points likely represent your reality.
  1. You swing hard at projects that are never going to turn into gold. You blame the client for limiting your creativity or not seeing your grand vision. The client gets frustrated with you for not delivering what they asked for and for not understanding their needs.
  2. You feel like you under-deliver on projects with real potential. You say things like, “Oh well, we’ll get it on the next one.” The client feels like you didn’t deliver something groundbreaking enough. You get frustrated because you feel like the client gives you mixed messages. Sometimes they want the moon, and sometimes they tell you you’re pushing too hard.
  3. You’ve lost your motivation and feel like no matter how hard you try, you end up churning out work that all seems to be consistently consistent.
I believe that not all projects are created equal.

This does not mean some  projects are not important, but rather you and your client have limited creative capacity and you need to apply it in the right places.

What I’m proposing is really simple. I suggest that at the outset of a new project, you and your client, together, assign your project with an A, B or C status. Essentially, you’re establishing success for the project, and you’re being transparent about the type of creativity that you are going to put into it.

Here’s how to break them down:

A Projects – The project parameters are not set, so you are likely setting the parameters/concept. You know the objectives you need to accomplish but there isn’t a set path forward to achieve them.

Your effort and energy should go to examining what would work best, pushing it out of the boundaries of convention. Here, you’ll want to not just knock it out of the park, you’ll want to create a brand new park.

Goal: Establish new boundaries and push the concept. Focus on creating a new platform.

B Projects –The concept may not be set but the parameters and deliverables are. There is only so far that you can push this. Effort and energy should go to pushing it to the edge of the boundary, not over it. For these types of projects, it’s all about creating something beautiful within context.

Goal: Deliver the best concept within the set parameters. Focus on the message, not the medium.

C Projects –The project parameters and general concept are set. Deliver on the concept, make it look good and ship it out.

Don’t overthink these projects. Focus on executing well on the established direction. Keep it clean and clear. Under control. You’ll be happier and your clients will be too.

Goal: Deliver on what the client asked for as efficiently as possible. Focus on delivery.

You might say this ranking means that not all projects are important, or that you don’t have to put in any effort on C projects, but this is not the case. In clearly defining your projects’ statuses as either A, B or C, you’re concentrating on what’s most important for each.