AEs can concept, too.

In 2012, I was tapped as the Creative Director on Sentricon at Bader Rutter. At that time, we began brand planning on the account for 2013. My colleagues and I led several months of workshops, held numerous focus groups and conducted countless brand exercises with our clients. Once everyone agreed on the new direction for the brand, it was time to write the creative brief and pick and brief the creative teams.

But I had a problem.

So many people from different disciplines contributed to the planning process and I didn’t want their contributions or ideas to get lost. Besides, the assignment wasn’t necessarily a “creative” assignment — along with some PR efforts, we were mainly going to produce materials for Sentricon to use in-house. So rather than have each member of the team focus solely on their discipline, their part of the assignment, I thought we should take a more collaborative approach.

I thought everyone should concept together.

Sure, it’s not unusual for planners, media buyers, etc., to brainstorm with a creative team. But at the time, the Sentricon team wasn’t accustomed to working that way. Once everyone bought into my recommendation, I set up a war room and held the first concept session. The PR rep, the account supervisor, the AEs, the planner, the developer, the media buyer and the art director and copywriter filled the room. And after a few awkward starts and stops, they filled the walls with concepts.

When I say awkward starts and stops, I mean very awkward starts and stops.

Coming up with concepts is hard, even for the most seasoned art director or copywriter. But they get the process. They’re not afraid to throw out “stupid” ideas, they’re not afraid of looking silly, they’re not afraid of being judged. And once everyone else got it, the concepts started to flow. Even our client got in on the action — we shared our directions with her prior to our presentation to her team.

Whether their concepts made it to the client or not, every member of the team took ownership of the work. Everyone had a voice. Everyone had an opinion. Everyone mattered. Collaboration isn’t always easy or comfortable. But in a “I need it tomorrow and it has to work across all channels and I only have $4.99 and can you make it go viral” kind of world, I believe it’s more important than ever.

About the work: We created photography and established the brand voice for use across different digital properties, many were not managed by BR, and for sales materials to be produced in-house. For a few select markets, we created a radio spot that could be tagged by sales reps. We also ran a banner ad in those markets that expanded showing consumers local Sentricon rep locations and a video we made (see it here) explaining how Sentricon works. In addition, I led the update to the logo so it better reflected the new brand position.