Dear creative alumni of the future: change breeds opportunity (Part 3 of 3)

 
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A few weeks ago I spoke as alumni of my university, about forging a career in a digital age. This is the third (and last) part covering why it’s a bloody fantastic time to be starting a creative career.

BRANDS ARE NOW PUBLISHERS

Let’s be honest, brands can’t expect to be just about the products and services they sell anymore. Great brands are built on the feelings we have about them above and beyond their function. There are places for brands to feature (though that’s not an argument for inserting a brand everywhere) and the inherently visual nature of so much of social media and website content mean compelling brands now broadcast an entire lifestyle, not just the item they happen to be selling.

A prime example is Red Bull who are huge content creators as much as they are energy drink makers. A glance at their Instagram shows consistently high engagement, but you only sporadically glance their drinks or even a logo. Yet, their content is branded; they feel like Red Bull videos that successfully speak to, and for, their consumers.

Nike is a similar example with a broader brush: rather than speaking to thrill-seekers Nike is simply about you reaching your fullest potential. Nike videos, copy and imagery feel very Nike, even if they don’t linger over products or have a consistent style. They evoke their brand with every piece of content they push into the world.

This emergence of brands as publishers is something that makes more opportunities for creative professionals: in-house teams become more feasible when content is your marketing, brands can then also react to current affairs at the speed of a mouse click.

 
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INFLUENCERS ARE NOW BRANDS

Think about all the major social media personalities you were following a few years ago. My bet is: most of them now have a product line or service that they can sell.

Content creators have reversed the order of production by first establishing huge followings and then going to create and sell their own products to a now loyal audience.

Take a look at the plethora of fashion and beauty brands launched by bloggers, the number of blogs that have become cookbooks, and pretty much Gary Vaynerchuck. Creative content builds brands just as much as brands build content.

That’s not to say that every creative should be an influencer and brand, but it points to a context where creation can lead to career paths and opportunities. Which brings us to...

 
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BRANDS ARE TURNING TO CREATIVES

Brands and agencies are turning to artists and creatives with distinct styles. Look at Gucci’s campaign and capsule collection with Unskilled Worker, the pseudonym of an artist that Gucci’s creative director found on Instagram a few years ago. In our own agency our illustrator and designer is picked up for freelance work through his Instagram, while we hired an animator off the back of his feed.

You don’t need to be an influencer, but you do need to have a body of work. If you’re studying in a creative field: start your portfolio or showreel now. Put something out there for people to find, you’ll learn far more than if you just keep it to yourself. The pressure will concentrate your skills. And if you start now you get your mistakes out of the way early.

Your passion project or side hustle may or may not get you a collaboration with Nike, but as a person on the other side of the interviewing table it’s hard to hire you fresh out of uni if you don’t have something to show me.

 
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OUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE AS AGENCIES: THE WAR FOR TALENT

Chello has had to grapple with our own brand and image too. How do we attract the right people? What do we say about ourselves? We operate in a space where other agencies, brands and digital publishers are vying for the same talent. The struggle for people who are skilled creators, and who have the same ethos as us, is a real concern.

As young creatives start founding their careers, they should worry less about finding the job title that sounds about right, and get busy making the things they want to make. You can sell out later on in your career, now’s the time for getting creative and feeling satisfied. This attracts more of the work you want to do. Remember, as a young grad you may end up at an agency or a brand or a publisher, you may well freelance or contract, or start your own business. You’ll probably do a combination of all of these. You may even have a job that doesn’t exist today.

The creative industry is tough, but it is also hungry for fresh voices – and it always will be. Young creatives today have the freedom to go well beyond the classroom; teach yourself, do and make things, and pay attention to what other creatives are doing.

The business of creativity has been shifting for years and it will still be shifting by the time you enter it. Embrace the change – because it will present to you opportunities that creatives in decades past could never have imagined. And that is bloody exciting.