A Comprehensive Creative Director Job Description

Daniella Alscher
Daniella Alscher  |  August 14, 2019

There are an infinite amount of players in the game of advertising.

Copywriters, graphic designers, photographers, animators, and other employees within an agency are all working towards the same goal: an amazing advertising campaign.

But the words “amazing advertising campaign” mean something different to every employee. Photographers may have one idea while the graphic designer has another, and neither of those visions add up to what the copywriter sends in for approval.

It takes a leader to make sure that the client receives a cohesive result.

What does a creative director do?

It may seem obvious that a creative director is someone who directs a creative team, but there’s a little more detail that goes into the title.

Creative directors create and enforce the vision of the overall advertising project. Ultimately, they ensure there is a singular look and feel across an advertising campaign by managing the creatives who produce the work.

Skills and qualifications

The majority of advertising agencies and in-house departments request that the creative director have a bachelor's degree in advertising, art, or design.

Because creative directors are in charge of an entire creative team, it’s typically mandatory that the creative director have an established background in at least one of the areas they’re directing: the basics of the best copywriting practices, what it means to establish a brand identity, the fundamentals of advertising, and familiarity with design software such as Adobe Creative Suite. Applications within Adobe CS can allow creatives to design original, digital illustrations, edit photographs, and create animations. 

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Having the technical skills won’t guarantee that you an interview for the creative director job you want. The following soft skills are also absolutely necessary to have:

  • The ability to manage, lead, and inspire others
  • The ability to present developed and clear ideas to your team and your client
  • The ability to think creatively and overcome any creative block in your way
  • The personality of an innovative, enthusiastic self-starter
  • The capacity to keep a cool head under pressure
  • Outstanding written and verbal communication skills

Salary

Like any job, the salary of a creative director depends on multiple factors: your previous experience, education, location, and size of the agency.

The median salary for a creative director of advertising is $97,756.

average salary creative director

Job responsibilities

A creative director is both of those things: a creative and a director. Job responsibilities vary from place to place, but the following are responsibilities that follow a creative director no matter where they go.

Establishing creative guidelines

Creative directors are responsible for developing and maintaining the creative philosophy, goals, and strategies that will lead the team to success.

Directing a team

The creative director must monitor and supervise members of the creative team, as well as motivate and mentor them, just as a manager would.

Keeping a careful eye on each task, creative directors oversee copywriting, design, and additional creative tasks. Creative directors should actively schedule brainstorming and ideating sessions to ensure that ideas are always flowing, and keep a close eye on due dates to make sure that each job is being completed within the time given.

While those brainstorming sessions may help team members come up with some groundbreaking ideas, those ideas can be expensive. The creative director is also responsible for making sure that the creative work stays within the team’s budget.

Finally, creative directors work closely with the human resources department in hiring and managing full-time or freelance graphic designers, copywriters, photographers, and additional members of the creative team.

Communicating with other departments

The creative director needs to see from the perspective of the client to understand their needs and goals. Outside of the client, research should be done to see what campaigns have been executed before this one, how successful they’ve been, and what their competitors are doing.

In addition, the creative director should get input from the sales team, marketing team, and advertising team–additional departments that will be communicating with the client. By doing so, creative directors avoid missing important changes in information or opinions of their client.

Follow the leader

It’s up to the creative director to ensure that their work makes clients happy and ultimately leads to success. Orchestrating this is a challenge, but positive results make all of that hard work pay off. Take a look at some of the best advertising agencies to see where you could land your next dream job as a creative director.

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Daniella Alscher
Author

Daniella Alscher

Daniella Alscher is a Content Marketing Associate for G2. When she's not reading or writing, she's listening to murder podcasts or sitting on the couch. Or both.