Why brands need to be mindful about not stifling creative liberty of partners

While agencies and creators do appreciate the constructive feedback offered by the brands, they tell BuzzInContent how too much interference in every big and small part of the content creation process can cause problems as every creator/agency has its own modus operandi

Akanksha Nagar
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Brands and agencies develop a vision to meet consumers in the moment and get ahead of the curve. Having a brand that sees content creation as a more collaborative partnership with the agency leads to content that is impactful and engaging. However, this partnership might pose a bit of a problem when there is little to no room left for experimentation.

Many a time brands approach agencies/creators not only with the objective but with the solutions as well, and at the same time they remain adamant on how the creator should make content. Not only does this hinder the whole working process for partners, but experts told BuzzInContent that it can also lead to a negative impact on the quality of the content being made.

Asif Upadhye

Asif Upadhye, Director at SPRD, said, “Often, brands will also provide solutions to the problems they want the agency to look into. If not handled well, this poses a bit of a problem, since it essentially sets the agency down a singular path, leaving little to no room to explore other avenues of thought. It is perfectly understandable though, that certain brands would want to adhere to a specific identity depending on their demographic, in which case there needs to be a clear approach carved out that specifies the management of content. These could be specific words that are to be avoided, the tonality of communication or topics of interest. Culling out what isn’t part of the brand’s vision can provide some direction and also allow for some creative liberty.”

However, in general having a brand that sees content creation as a more collaborative partnership with the agency leads to content that is impactful and engaging. Sometimes, he added, it also turns into a learning experience where brands have the opportunity to re-evaluate their approach, analyse the response they’ve had and address weak points.

Tapan Mishra

Tapan Mishra, Founder, Seniority and Evergreen Club, said that sometimes, brands tend to get too self-absorbed with the outcome of the content, rather than enjoying the process of creating it. He believes there must be a healthy exchange of ideas between the brand and the content partner, but the latter must be able to ascertain their creative liberty in delivering the final piece while also retaining the original brand essence.

“Extreme levels of interference can negatively impact not just the quality of the content, but also the campaign objective and overall consumer experience in the long run,” he said.

When a brand approaches agencies then it should be with a problem point, and they should look forward to a solution from the agency.

Praveen Jaipuriar

“The brand should provide the brief to the agency so that the agency can understand the requirement and provide the solution in the same line. But too much interference of brands negatively impacts the quality of the content,” said Praveen Jaipuriar, CEO, Continental Coffee.

However, anyone giving any solution is not a bad thing, but interference in every small and big aspect of the process is the troublesome part.

Amol Roy

“It is ok if a brand only provides feedback to the content creators about the content in a constructive way, then it is fine, but if brand starts interfering in every big and small part of the content then it might cause problems for both as every creator has his/her own way of working,” said Amol Roy, Founder, The Shutter Cast.

He said that if a brand starts commanding how the creator should make content, then it might hinder the whole working process of the creator and might also have a negative impact on the quality of content being made.

Sujot Malhotra

The connection between a brand and a celebrity is a symbiotic one, said Sujot Malhotra, Chief Executive Officer at Beardo. As a brand, Beardo prefers to give creative freedom to celebrities/influencers; something which it believes results in them creating content that is organic and impactful.

However, he added that ars gratia artis doesn’t work for business, and it is also its duty as a brand to ensure that its guidelines, identity and imagery are intact.

“We really focus on crafting compelling content pieces and appreciate it when celebrities/influencers work with us as our partners to drive brand communication. But as is with any collaborative content, there is always the possibility that either stakeholder takes over the creative process, thus negating the creative or brand output. The trick is to maintain a balance- something which comes right at the beginning of the process – a clear detailed brief,” Malhotra said.

So after having briefed the creators and agencies, what should ideally be the next job for the brands?

Once briefed, Jaipuriar suggested brands to wait and evaluate only once the creators have shared the output. While evaluating the output, brand should be lucid enough to see if the output is in line with the brief and not see it in a different direction or zone before sharing the feedback.

After the brief and brand communication guidelines are given, Malhotra said that the key focus of the brand would be to support the creator/celebrity as part of the collaborative ideation and creative process – when needed. Post which the brand steps in, the content is created to ensure the communication works towards achieving the objectives of the brand.

Brands need to be just as invested as their agency counterparts in keeping track of the progress towards meeting shared objectives.

“Whether this requires a meeting with the team once a week or once a month depends entirely on the scope of work and the brand itself. Ideally, there should also be a go-to person appointed by the brand who can answer any questions and can help the agency with any information required. There also needs to be time given to the agency to analyse and present previous data on the brand, brainstorm and ideate viable strategies to be executed upon approval by the brand. Finally, it is immensely important for both the brand and the agency to be on the same page,” added Upadhye.

Communication between both parties is crucial to building content that is both valuable and relevant to their target demographic. Experts advised brands to wait for initial drafts of the content in order to understand how the creator is taking/understanding the said work.

Brands need to be mindful about not stifling creative liberty, said Upadhye.

He said that the goal of an agency is to make sure that the content is visually engaging and insightful enough to spark interest and have an impact on the target audience. Developing ideas for social media platforms regardless of industry is ultimately a creative process. Agencies work to ensure that the thought and reasoning behind a piece of content is evident in its execution. Simply put, the message needs to be clear to the reader and the targeted outcome needs to be clear to both the brand and the agency.

Brands are usually aware of what has worked in the past and in order to evolve, they need to be willing to consider new ideas that could help them stay ahead of the rest. There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to the manner or capacity in which a brand and agency should work together, he said. In the end it really depends on the decision of the brand and the agreement with the agency.

creative liberty of partners