What does creative consulting entail? A comprehensive guide


As a leader in an innovation-led field, you're judged by the results you deliver. The question is, have you ever considered creative consulting to support you in achieving your organisation's needs? Do a little research, and you'll see that it's something that can bridge the gap between the vision you have for your brand and the tangible success it has in the marketplace.

Furthermore, it can infuse relevance into your messaging and enhance both engagement and brand perception. "I've heard it all before!" you might say, but there's more than a little truth in the statement that creativity is that elusive element that can elevate you above the noise of competitors. It can transform you into the de facto brand of choice, and no mistake. 

Navigating a competitive market 

Keeping up with ever-changing consumer trends can be tricky, and your time is precious, so why should you spend any of it looking into what creative consulting agencies offer?

Perhaps consider the commercial behemoth that is Apple and how it's been able to merge creativity with analytical acumen to create solutions that resonate with audiences on a global scale. That famous Apple logo is synonymous with innovation and excellence, and it's all made possible with the right focus on the strategic integration of design, technology and engineering.

In this article, we look at the huge value that's on offer in this field and how partnering with experienced professionals can help you get the impact and engagement you crave. 

What is creative consulting?

In order to put creative consulting into the proper context, it's first necessary to define the focus of traditional consulting. It prioritises operational efficiency, market analysis and financial strategy, and herein lies the difference. Creative consulting's emphasis is on innovative thinking and storytelling that invokes emotions - although it still keeps a firm eye on business results. 

It ventures into the realm of brand identity and consumer engagement and aims to create a unique narrative and customer experience. The following primary disciplines are at its core.

  • Design thinking, which involves empathetic, user-centred problem-solving to create tailored solutions that meet specific customer needs.
  • Brand storytelling serves to craft compelling narratives that connect emotionally with audiences, enhancing loyalty through meaningful, engaging experiences.
  • User experience (UX) design focuses on creating intuitive digital interfaces that enhance user interaction and engagement with a brand's products and services.

At its core, creative business consulting is defined by its capacity to blend the imaginative with the analytical, forming strategies that compel people to take action no matter the industry in which they’re applied. From fashion to technology to product design, its scope extends across various dimensions, furnishing brands with thought-provoking messaging. 

Enhanced brand perception and fostered loyalty are just two natural bi-products, and the skill of a creative consultant is to navigate the complexities of consumer behaviour and over-arching market trends. The choice to embrace what creative consulting offers can allow you to get ahead in what is an ever-evolving digital landscape. 

What does a creative consultant do?

A great example of work that’s been done in creative consulting can be seen in Tesla's "Zero Emissions. Zero Compromises" marketing campaign that emphasises the company's focus on environmental sustainability. This messaging leverages the fact that more and more people have climate change concerns and shows potential buyers that switching to an EV comes with the added benefit of performance on the road. 

Serving a buyer's two complementing needs (which, in this instance, is driving performance and eco-friendliness) perfectly encapsulates the value of a creative consultant. These professionals delve deep into marketing trends to uncover insights into how people behave and what they want, resulting in groundbreaking concepts that elevate brand positioning. 

Another is MCI's work for the Paris Peace Forum, for which our expertise was used in developing solutions and strategies that would place the event at the very centre of global current affairs. The outcome of this major international event was nothing short of extraordinary, as the seamless on-site logistics delivered:

  • Almost 15,000 people live-streamed the event
  • 55 members of the media attended the press conference (27 international and 28 French journalists) 
  • Nearly 380 members of the press covered the event
  • 3 million tweet impressions occurred during the two days of the forum 
  • 720 broadcasting streams went out
  • An incredible 47.3K media outreach 
  • 100,000 media interactions were enjoyed

The results gained represented a clear illustration of the power of creative consulting and just what’s possible in terms of uplift and traction. 

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How does a creative consulting agency work?

So, a decision is made to engage with a creative consultancy. How do they work in practice? A good one will offer a structured yet flexible framework across which easy client collaboration can take place. This is followed from initial engagement to successful project completion and exists to ensure clear communication throughout.  

Here’s how a typical journey might play out. 

  • Initial consultation: The journey starts with an in-depth discussion to understand the client's vision, challenges, and what you hope to achieve. This is a crucial phase in terms of setting the project’s scope and your overall expectations. It forms the foundation of everything that’s to come. 
  • Research & analysis: Success also requires that you understand what your competitors are up to and what customers are looking for. This is gained through thorough market research. 
  • Strategy development: Based on all the gathered insights, a strategic plan is created outlining creative and practical steps to achieve the set goals.
  • Implementation: Here’s where meaningful action is taken whereby a team of designers, strategists, content writers and more bring the vision to life. This team works closely together to achieve a consistent brand experience. 
  • Evaluation & adjustment: The work of a creative consulting team doesn’t end after implementation, as the impact of the strategy is continuously monitored and adjusted in line with results and customer feedback. 

Any creative consulting agency worth its salt will have a team full of skills in different areas, allowing the project to be attacked from a variety of different angles. Ultimately, it’s all about results for the client and through ongoing collaboration, creative design consulting can realise resonant campaigns that deliver long-term growth. 


Why work with a creative consulting?

There’s a broad spectrum of projects a creative business consulting company can help with, meaning that a diverse range of clients would be interested in what they offer. Whether talking about a startup looking to carve out its own niche or an established brand needing to refresh its image, the services of an agency apply in many areas. 

Product design

Creative business consultants can improve products in any industry, making them more widely adopted. In 2008, Airbnb was struggling to gain market traction until a creative agency suggested professional photography for its listings. The result was transformative.

Brand strategies

A company’s voice matters, as it’s what forms public perception and creative pros can help. Think of Dove’s 2004 ‘Real Beauty’ campaign that moved away from traditional beauty standards. Featuring real women of different colours, shapes and sizes, it positioned the company as a champion of self-esteem in beauty and inclusivity. 

Digital experience and UX/UI design

88% of consumers say that they wouldn’t return to a company after a bad website experience, highlighting the importance of a smooth and memorable UX design. A creative agency can help design websites, mobile apps and digital platforms that ensure an intuitive customer journey. 

Content creation 

Nowhere is storytelling more apparent than in content creation, which ranges from copywriting to video content. Creative consultants can educate audiences, promote products and instigate discussions about hot topics through all manner of content types across the ever-growing selection of social media platforms that exist. 

The obstacles that creative consulting overcomes

While the work creative design consulting professionals do can be transformative, the field has its own set of challenges. Common obstacles include aligning creative vision with the objectives of the client and working within set budgetary constraints. It can be difficult to create practical, impactful solutions in a realm where subjective differences can lead to project direction conflicts.

In order to clear these hurdles, clear communication must be fostered while setting realistic expectations at the outset. It also calls for continuous dialogue throughout the process. 

Choosing the right creative design consulting company

When choosing a creative consultant, you should be trying to strike a balance between innovative thinking and a solid understanding of business strategy. Key qualities include a proven track record of successful projects, strong communication skills, adaptability, and an approach that is both creative and analytical.

Ultimately, the right creative consultant company brings a blend of imagination and pragmatism to the table, turning challenges into growth opportunities.

Want to enjoy the benefits of creative consulting skills?

If you’re a brand leader and you want to differentiate your company in a crowded marketplace, the skills offered by a creative consulting agency can be pivotal in ensuring success. Concentrating its efforts on that game-changing creative spark while also leveraging strategic business acumen, you can tell your brand story in a way that stays long in the mind. 

MCI offers industry-leading creative consulting services backed by a deep understanding of what's required to grab the attention of your target audience. Our team works tirelessly to create tailor-made strategies that align with your brand identity and objectives and create campaigns that resonate. So, why not get in touch today?

We're with you every step of the way, from concept to delivery and beyond, allowing you to hone your approach to stay relevant and ahead of your competition. Providing value in what you offer is something you work hard to achieve, and our goal is to ensure everyone knows about it. 

Sylvia André - Chief Creativity Officer, mci group