What makes a good client relationship? Respect trumps creative freedom for leading agencies

In the creative industry, agencies are often hired for an intangible asset – their creative outlook. And as these studios deliver subjective results, it’s hard to know how they measure their success or “creativity”. Equally, how do they define a successful working culture today? A new study from creative consultancy Aufi attempts to get to the bottom of these concerns. Gathering data over six months from 50 leading studios like Accept & Proceed, moniker and RoAndCo, Aufi investigates how studios view and define successful client-agency relationships, creative attributes, and social impact, with revealing results.

One of the most unexpected findings might be what agencies measure a successful client relationship by. While the assumed golden creative asset of “creative freedom” and “a good brief” came in at only one per cent and eight per cent respectively, connection and communication seem central to “success”. Respect (25 per cent), chemistry (21 per cent) and ambition (17 per cent) all scored highest; leaps and bounds above the score for being “on time and on budget” at zero per cent (!).

Interestingly, awards and the quantifiable return of profit (while still important for commercial clients) also seem to be on a downward trend. Asking creatives how they measure success, “positive impact” leads at 40 per cent. “Measurement needs to look at a number of angles, with positive impact being at the top and the rest feeding into it,” expands Mark Liney, group CEO at DesignStudio. Meanwhile, this squared against a resounding 0 per cent vote for “awards”, which Aufi founder Nicholas Bell points out “tells of the mindset creatives are in these days, as opposed to the culture a few years ago.”

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