What Exactly Does A Creative Director Do?

It never fails. When I tell people I work as a creative director at a digital agency, the next question is typically some version of, “so, what is it that you do exactly?”

Many people think a Creative Director’s role involves sitting in an ivory tower spouting design direction to their underlings. Others seem to think the role is obsolete, a relic of traditional ad agencies. While it’s true that the Creative Director often holds the keys to the proverbial creative gates, the modern day Creative Director’s role is more integrated, subtle, agile, and collaborative.

On a typical day, it is equal parts creative facilitator, design advocate, team cheerleader, and idea defender.

Below, I’ve laid out what my typical day as a Creative Director looks like:

Good morning, Sunshine at 7 a.m.

In the office by 9 a.m.

Getting my hands dirty by 9:30 a.m.

After all, being creative is why I got into design in the first place. I still remember staying up late into the wee hours of the morning designing and coding websites as a prepubescent teen, gleefully discovering the joys of creating something tangible out of clicks and keyboard strokes. I try to make sure I never forget the reasons “why” I do things — that’s what drives us, differentiates us, and yet simultaneously, also connects us. Designing is my passion and I constantly remind myself that I’m blessed to be able to do it for a living.

Creative ideas are brought to life by 11 a.m.

Which takes me to my next point: the role of a Creative Director is hardly glamorous nor is it often visible. It is usually messy, with dozens of ideas scrapped before landing on “the one.” If you’re doing a good job at it, your role can seem invisible, elevating your team and making the whole creative process look easy and seamless.

Taking the time to eat a proper lunch at noon

An inspirational walk at 2 p.m.

A study conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan found that taking a walk among trees and nature — as opposed to an urban environment — can improve your short-term memory by 20 percent. In another study by Jerome Singer, intentionally allowing your mind to wander allows it to access memories and meaningful connections, helping to lead us to those coveted “lightbulb” or “aha!” moments when we least expect them

Always searching for new talent

I’ve been lucky to be able to see the team grow over the past four years from a handful of designers to a team of 17 across two offices. This is one of the most rewarding aspects of being a Creative Director: building a team of wonderful, creative folks who you’re able to watch grow to spectacular heights.

Spread the word: 4:30 p.m. is playtime

Closing time is 5:30 p.m.

If you want to learn more, you can visit us at yml.co.

YML is a design and digital product agency. We create digital experiences that export Silicon Valley thinking to the world.