Creative Directors Are So 20th Century

1 Mar, 2011

In the marketing/advertising agency environment, the Creative Director has historically been the top dog—understanding what motivates the target audience; providing visionary creative leadership; defining tonality and consistency of message and design. Wikipedia states the following:

The job entails overseeing all aspects of product design… A creative director is ultimately responsible for the quality of the final creative work.

Media and agencies have transformed over the decades—especially the past 15 years with the advent of the Internet as a marketing outlet—but the role of the Creative Director has remained fairly unchanged. It’s time for a new breed of leadership that compliments the ongoing media and marketing evolution.


Here’s how Wikipedia defines User Experience Design:

User experience design most frequently defines a sequence of interactions between a user (individual person) and a system, virtual or physical, designed to meet or support user needs and goals, primarily, while also satisfying systems requirements and organizational objectives.

When UX Design is viewed holistically across multiple channels and touch points, as it should be, it’s clear that the User Experience Designer is moving into the leadership role that the Creative Director historically held. Content, tone, aesthetic design, interaction design are all under the purview of the User Experience Designer.

Each touch point that an audience member has with a brand (or that brand’s representative) in the real or virtual space should be planned for and designed in order to create the optimal experience. This is the role of the User Experience Designer.

The time of the flashy idea, the witty concept, the jingle, the tagline, using sex to tantalize the customer, etc. has past. While any of these historically Creative Director driven concepts could be components of a larger experience (given they meet the needs of the target audience), they’re no longer enough. It’s time to focus our efforts on quality products and providing usefulness and value to the end user—our target audience members.

It’s time to acknowledge that the User Experience Designer has the skills to be the new visionary leader as marketing strategies transition into the 21st Century.

Posted in Design, Marketing Geniuses, User Experience | 7 Comments »

  • alexgiron

    @adjustafresh good read… Creative Dirs however are reinventing themselves as well… Many now have strong UX Experience etc.

  • adjustafresh

    @alexgiron agreed – maybe the CD title stays the same, but the role transforms to incorporate more service design components. Thanks!

  • cluxmoore

    @adjustafresh dangnabit just got that title given to me at my latest job….

  • adjustafresh

    @cluxmoore uh oh. You’re doomed and deprecated ;)

  •!/nonaligned Nonaligned

    You can be a excellent UX Designer and still design flat, lifeless interfaces. I think that creativity is still what makes the difference between the merely effective and the dazzling & inspiring. Am I wrong? Maybe we simply need to identify and eliminate all “Creative Directors” from the digital realm who have no appreciation or understanding of the vital role of real UX design? What’s the new title for the visionary leader of interface creation endeavors?

  • Scott

    @nonaligned – maybe it’s just semantics? I’ve worked with Creative Directors who understand UX and UX Designers who get creative. I’ve also worked with CDs who think direct mail & banner ads are the bees knees, and UXDs who haven’t yet grasped the primacy of great content/creative when designing an experience. Just because you have the title, doesn’t necessarily mean you earned it, right?

    I’m going to nitpick your term “digital realm” though… It’s all digital now. If your brand doesn’t have a digital presence, does it really matter?

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