Marketing and Advertising

T is for Talent

Find Creative Thinkers to Elevate your Brand

Marketing is increasingly complex yet full of opportunity. The need to recruit creative thinkers is at an all-time high. Most execs approach challenges with reams of data and knowledge. Yet brands grow when people creatively solve problems, seize opportunity and claim higher ground.

Creative thinking is the cornerstone of successful marketing. Creative thinking can come from many places, in many forms. This talent resides in an employee, a marketing leader, an in-house creative team and/or with an external advertising industry agency partner.

Creativity is also a team sport. It is not the concept of a great idea that solves a marketing problem. To actually make a difference creativity must come to fruition through implementation. How a company infuses creative thinking across multiple functions, and values it within the organizational culture, is the key to remaining open and innovative, at the forefront of its industry.

Here is our two-step approach for successful recruitment for creative thinkers. This model works for the one or the many. It results in smart hiring decisions and productive results.

Think Big!

No recruitment assignment starts with a narrow view. Rather than the laundry list of required capabilities, begin with an articulation of the desired culture that leaders are seeking to create.

Hiring a key employee, an agency or even a freelancer can make an impact. Every smart selection decision moves you towards your cultural vision and goals. Every poor hiring decision detracts from this progress and undermines the integrity of the cultural state. Cultural fit among team members is the key to refining and implementing the most creative ideas, enabling teams to move with increasing speed and agility.

Stuck & Stagnant?

Want to evolve company culture to better attract and retain creative thinkers? There are specific core values that are talent magnets. In addition to stalwart favorites that define a company mission and its strategy, hone in on these core values that will actually fuel creativity.

After thirty years of consulting in the marketing industry, recruiting creative talent for our clients, we recognize the key indicators of successful and healthy creative cultures. An organizational culture that values creative thinking can be found within agencies and companies alike. Often under-appreciated, the core values of self-expression, contrarian thinking, artistry and affirmation are the drivers of creative thinking. The cultural environment also supports work place behaviors grounded in respect for the individual contributor.

Creative cultures are also characterized by diversity. Diverse teams are more creative and productive. While most executive recruiting focuses on diversity with demographic variables, the more influential aspects of diversity are the benefits of the psychological diversity of humans, including personality types and values in addition to skilled abilities. People with unique ways of seeing the world around them are to be highly valued, as they offer others paths forward into the new territory.

Diversify and Unify

You might be sensing the paradox. So what then unites diverse teams of creative people with contrarian ways of thinking and working?

The answer is simple. It is the affinity they have to the shared sense of purpose and meaning of the work they do together. A great leader knows and articulates this, inspiring loyalty among followers.

Think Tall!

Tall Talent

Using the T-shaped model for creative talent recruitment is a great exercise that results in finding the best talent for your team. Tim Brown, CEO of IDEO global design and innovation consultancy, endorsed this approach to talent assessment as an effective method to building interdisciplinary work teams for creative processes. 

The vertical part of a T represents the candidate’s depth of skill and ability that contributes to the creative process. For example, creative skills, like storytelling or visual design, are sharpened with time and refined by a wide range of industry application. (That’s why often the creative talents of external ad agency partners are often additive to those that exist within a client company.)

The top part of the T represents the candidate’s extension, usually to others across functions and disciplines. Brand building requires orchestration across many people. Recruiting Wide T’s who are highly collaborative and effective at extending their know-how to engage with others is important.

Assessing the Intangible: The number one interview question ?

To assess creative thinking abilities, we ask creative talent to talk about their thought process behind the work shown in a portfolio or referenced in a resume or case. The discussion about how work was created reveals important insights into how a candidate thinks, processes and collaborates. The conversation also reveals how s/he will align with a given culture.

Tune in. Be sure to listen for how a creative thinker adapts to change and feedback. How a creative thinker (or an entire agency team) will integrate into a team structure is a function of how well they take feedback and apply criticism.


Creative thinking skills and abilities will continue to drive brand performance. Companies can to take extreme care in hiring creative talent, seeking the choices that best fit with their own vision for a healthy organizational culture, whether it’s the hire of an advertising agency team or an individual leader.


Brands who want to recruit, attract and retain top-tier creative thinkers can leverage our top-tier talent recruitment and agency sourcing practices.  

Contact Us for a confidential conversation.