Impact Studio Drop #4: Creative freedom

Ella Munn
Ella Munn
March 13, 2024
Creators should be considered an extension of your brand, reaching and building connections with your target audience. But how should this partnership be navigated? How much freedom should brands give creators? And how much should they lean on their creative and storytelling skills to better engage with an audience, vs. protecting their brand through strict guidelines and prescriptive briefs...

Welcome to Impact Studio Drop #04, your bi-weekly deep dive into the new, interesting and occasionally unexpected ways to do cool stuff with creators. 

Since the beginning of creator marketing, Influencer has strived to partner with creators in a way that allows them the creative freedom to create content that is authentic to their tone of voice, style and audience. As a result, we've been helping brands tread the fine line between protecting brand guidelines and allowing for creative interpretation that we know makes for successful campaigns. 

This drop explores the tension between creative freedom and brand control, understanding how to get the balance right and create content that’s authentic to both creators and your brand.

Creators should be considered an extension of your brand, reaching and building connections with your target audience. But how should this partnership be navigated? How much freedom should brands give creators? And how much should they lean on their creative and storytelling skills to better engage with an audience, vs. protecting their brand through strict guidelines and prescriptive briefs? 

As is often the case, there is no set answer and more a case of selecting the right balance to deliver against chosen outcomes. This balance however, shifts as we move down the funnel. As the desired outcome of the content evolves, so too does the role of both creators and brands.

The balance at both upper and lower funnel is easier to navigate. 

Upper: When the goal is to deliver broad awareness, creative freedom for interpretation is imperative as brands have limited ability to connect emotionally with or entertain an audience. At this phase, the worst thing a brand can do is stifle a creator’s creativity through prescriptive instructions and content scripts. 

Lower: If you’ve executed an effective full funnel strategy, this content should seal the deal, and deliver informative product specifications and clear CTAs. Here, a brand's access to audience data and expertise around action driving language is key to delivering that final push to purchase, install or sign up.  

Mid-funnel is more complicated. How should brands balance creative freedom and brand control at this crossover point? 

Various considerations impact how we juggle the two but what appears to drive effectiveness is striking the right balance between prioritising who you are talking to, and what message you are trying to land. 

‘Who’ should prioritise creator freedom. When looking to speak to niche audiences, creators who are embedded in those communities and know how to engage them, need the freedom to speak to the audience in a way that's authentic to them and the communities they serve.  

‘What’ requires greater brand input. If creators require expertise or credibility to accurately inform their audience around certain verticals, brands need to play a greater role in informing them and scoping content messaging. For more heavily regulated sectors such as finance, creator briefs require even greater accuracy and stricter brand control to ensure all content adheres to guidelines and market-specific regulations. 

Conclusion

It’s important for brands to consider the balance between prescriptiveness and allowing for creative freedom. As a brand, your main focus should be ensuring that what you want the content to say is conveyed clearly in the brief - give creators all the information they need to introduce your brand or sell your product - from features and benefits to stockists, sales and more. 

How that message should be said or conveyed however, should be driven by creators. Too often brands concern themselves with how their message is being delivered, setting over-prescriptive briefs that make creator content less engaging and authentic. 

Giving creators creative freedom to interpret the message however, doesn't need to involve throwing your brand guidelines out the window, abandoning your values or straying from your TOV. Be upfront about non-negotiables and set clear guardrails, to avoid retroactively pushing brand considerations post content-creation. This gives creators a space to play within your boundaries and the opportunity to make content that is engaging, entertaining and authentic. 

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