What are Creative Strategists?

In his article For All You People Who Have No Clue What A Strategist Does, Harry Innes explains that Creative Strategists “tell the creatives what to make, what insight to use and why.”

That’s true as far as it goes, but deeply unsatisfying. Because not only do Creative Strategists tell the creatives “what insight to use and why,” they are regularly called upon to develop those insights in the first place. 

Not always of course; sometimes they’re handed premade insights and told to make them work. But if you don’t already have the insights you need, you know you can turn to a Creative Strategist to develop them. 

That’s not true of all of the strategists from CX Strategist Emily Vernon’s list, but I would argue that when any strategist from that list is tasked to develop insights, they are acting as a Creative Strategist in that moment regardless of their title. 

And that my friends is why the Creative Strategist role is unique. Their main purpose on any project is to develop the insights that will make all of the rest of the work possible.

Tweaking the Definition

That purpose leads quite nicely to the small (but important!) tweak I make to Innes’ definition of a Creative Strategist. Here it is: 

Creative Strategists develop the insights that tell the Creatives what to make and why.”

Those insights then set the entire process of Creative Development in motion, where all of the different Creatives bring their skills and talent to bear on tackling a specific challenge.


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