What You Need to Know Right Now to Level Up
The watchword for the Chief Creative Officer role is “change.” Headlines of articles about the role often refer to “evolution,” a “murky future,” and a function redefined by digital transformation. Some practitioners note the role has become more collaborative and that it veers more toward the marketing function than in the past.
The title of Chief Creative Officer (CCO) is frequently applied in large advertising and other creative agencies, but it also applies to an executive role in companies such as GE, Target, Best Buy, General Mills, Microsoft, and Chobani. The role evolved as creative content went online and became more pervasive and important, motivating large brands to bring the creative function in house. In essence, Chief Creative Officers oversee an organization’s creative output, which may include marketing, media, and branding.
Because the Chief Creative Officer’s purview often includes responsibility for the overall look and feel of creative content, the role can overlap that of Chief Marketing Officer, Chief Communication Officer, or Chief Branding Officer. Forbes journalist Jason Compton calls the role, “leadership at the intersection of ideas and commerce,” suggesting that blending creativity and commerce can be dicey.
Gain insight into the Chief Creative Director role by reading this Lifehacker “How I Work” feature about Squarespace Chief Creative Officer David Lee and his shortcuts, workspaces, and routines, and an interview with Anjelika Temple, Chief Creative Officer at Brit+Co, who discusses such topics as the skills top creative leaders need to succeed and Temple’s biggest creative challenge to date.
Key Competencies for the CCO Role
Writing on the AllBusiness site, writes Courtney Feider suggests the CCO leads change management, “setting up strategic and thoughtful creative disruption, and implementing it with a process.”
In your career-marketing communications, showcase these additional Chief Creative Officer competencies you possess:
- Creativity, innovativeness, and the ability to imbue an organization-wide culture of creativity
- Abroad background combined with the ability to manage a team of specialists
- Collaborative across silos
- Ability to inspire new business strategy
- Solid grasp of analytics
- Quick adaptability
- Leadership skills, including the ability to lead change management.
- Drive to cultivate creativity throughout the organization
See also Top 50 Chief Creative Officer Skills.
Here are a few suggestions for those seeking to break into the Chief Creative Officer role, expand their horizons in an existing CCO role, or even rise beyond the Chief Creative Officer role:
- Don’t sweat educational requirements. The role of Chief Creative Director tends to have lighter educational requirements than other top-executive roles. While some CCOs hold a Master of Fine Arts degree, others in the role have only an associate’s degree. If you are interested in the CCO role, you may be heartened to know that people in this role come from diverse backgrounds, and no single list of hard-and-fast qualifications exists. You may be able to break in based on reputation, stellar past accomplishments, and your ability to show how your creativity will enable you to deliver results to your next employer.
- Be sure the total organization is behind you. That advice comes from Jay Haines, founder of a creative recruiting firm, as quoted by blogger Adrianne Pasquarelli. Haines also suggested “CCOs need the support of management and a sponsor in the executive office to truly succeed.”
- Know how to blend strategic business objectives, marketplace attraction, staff engagement, and company innovation to create results. “Using branding know-how and the history of what resonates with customers,” writes Feider,“ a CCO can uncover detailed audience segmentation by individual marketplace connection and help match up the differentiators, artistry, and assets of the product to the audience’s need.” Feider asserts that the Chief Creative Officer role comprises leadership advising, strategizing, and igniting creative thought, suggesting that organizations not using their CCOs in this way are missing out.
- Use the role to generate creativity throughout the organization. Fieder cites Robert Epstein, a senior research psychologist at the American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology, whose client received 55 percent more new ideas after Epstein trained the staff in core creative competencies. That level of innovation is bound to impress the C-Suite.