How to Build a Modern Creative Team in 2015

Eight Types of Creative Thinkers You Want to Have on Your Team

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Generating big ideas that win at award shows and help ring the cash register can sometimes seem fortuitous, or a bit like lightning in a bottle. But to seasoned agency executives and their clients, they know their teams were purposeful and effective from the start.

What's the secret to building the modern creative team? Let's admit, it's not easy with technology changing every hour. And with new technologies come newfangled job titles, such as engagement artist, conversation architect and content archivist. But if we look well beyond titles on business cards, we're sure to help CMOs sleep better at night.

Today's smart creative team not only has the right mix of professional skills, it has the right mix of personality traits, some of them found in more than one person. Here's what they look like and who should be on your next team:

The What-if-er

The What-if-er brings the big ideas to the table and brings the team along with him on the ride. He asks questions that persuade through involvement: "What if we…?"


  • Soaking up culture, finding inspiration absolutely everywhere.
  • Connecting the dots.
  • Turning inspiration into ideas.

Secret power: Helping everyone embrace the big idea, even though no one remembers who actually came up with it.

The Activator

The Activator makes stuff happen. Good stuff. The Activator takes, "What if we…" and turns it into, "Here's how we could…"


  • Turning visions into reality.
  • Saying no only when absolutely necessary.
  • Harmonizing a variety of personalities.

Secret power: Turning the constraints of time and budget into two more impetuses toward creativity.

The Technologist

The Technologist knows what's possible -- and what might be possible if you just rejigger, reconfigure, work around or whatever. Knowing what's possible helps hatch big ideas, and your team is missing out if you wait to involve her until it's time to execute.


  • Coding, developing, engineering -- it doesn't matter, they're doers.

Secret power: You'll never know if you don't bring her in right at kickoff.

The Connector

The Connector walks in your audience's shoes. They understand what people's needs are -- including how and where they interact with your platform.


  • Digging into market research and media consumption -- and then deeper.
  • Distilling data into insights and bringing insights to life in the creative process.
  • Design-thinking.

Secret power: Seeing the big picture, then bringing it down to earth, to the level of human experience.

The Pragmatist

The yin to the What-if-er's yang. When the What-if-er says, "Let's reinvent the wheel," the Pragmatist says, "How about taking the wheel we've got and making it go where we want it to."


  • Keeping an eye on the end goals.
  • Making sure an idea works -- really works.
  • Turning "not possible" into "let's find a way."

Secret power: Keeping the "big" in "big idea" alive, while embracing budget and timing realities.

The Scribe

Big ideas call for great writing, not just to bring them to life during the execution phase, but also to capture and refine them during the concepting phase.


  • Distilling ideas into their very essence.
  • Wrenching power from every word.
  • Finding a common language with the Visualist.

Secret power: A master of disguises, finding exactly the right personality and tone for every project.

The Visualist

The Visualist doesn't just make ideas look good -- she makes images that help uncover and clarify ideas. And she makes them look damn good.


  • Mastery of type, color, motions, visuals.
  • Showing, not telling.
  • Presenting the familiar in an unfamiliar way.

Secret power: Creating images that prompt, "Yes! That's exactly what I was trying to say."

The CMO Thinker

The CMO Thinker knows that the big idea is only as good as its results. She sees things from the CMO perspective: How can I sell this to my board or my CEO? Does it fit into the company's long-term plans?


  • Seeing creativity from a business perspective.
  • Thinking long-term.
  • Being willing to let go of even her favorite ideas, if they won't work.

Secret power: Disguising herself as just another member of the creative or account team -- but one who really gets it.

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