Don’t let your creative be an afterthought!

Don’t let your creative be an afterthought!

Businesses often think of design as an afterthought, but there are huge benefits to integrating Creative early in the lifecycle.

In my 20+ years of experience designing for businesses, I’ve found that the most successful projects were often the ones that started the creative process early. Whether it’s a go-to-market launch with datasheets and sales materials, a keynote presentation, or an explainer video – having creative join you at the table early on allows us to get a better understanding of the subject material, your needs, and your message. It creates a smoother launch and sharper end-result.

Often though, when it’s time to start, designers start the final relay leg armed with only a Rockstar drink and roadmap, and the responsibility of making up time from previous runners to get to the finish line fast.

Work smarter, not harder!

Why should you integrate creative early in the process? By planning out the scope and budget for your design needs early on, you can…

  • Avoid adding rush fees
  • Allow time for greatest level of creativity, input, and feedback
  • Give designers the opportunity to sit in on meetings and read through technical materials to ensure they know the basics of your product, topic, etc. (At Neal, we call these “deep dives” and they’re critical to our creative process.)
  • Hold team/stakeholder reviews to determine the assets needed and weigh in on early designs

Finally, integrating creative early in the process ensures consistency. Consistency is a key to any branding. Instead of being parachuted in at the last minute, designers who have sat in on meetings or been cc’d on emails throughout the process will be able to build on top of your company’s branding and style guide. Or help you create one.

No matter where you start, this consistency will help you build familiarity with your customers by ensuring all the materials align to the same message – your message.

“How well we communicate is determined not by how well we say things, but how well we are understood.”

Andrew Grove

Design as a value-add

Knowledge is at the core of Neal Analytics, and our creative business is no different. Our designers research and learn about the topics involved in their designs. They call this a “deep dive”. This aspect makes us unique, and let’s our clients rest easy knowing that the meaning will not be lost in aesthetics.

This is one of the biggest value-adds in design. You know the saying, “an image is worth a thousand words?” That can be especially true for technical fields. A whitepaper may be great for your peers, but it can miss the mark in an executive presentation. When you have limited time with your audience – whether they’re a customer, an executive, or your team – you need to get the most out of your visuals. Why? Turns out, our brains are wired to process visual images and cues.

“The part of the brain used to process words is quite small in comparison to the part that processes visual images. Words are abstract and rather difficult for the brain to retain, whereas visuals are concrete and, as such, more easily remembered.”

– Haig Kouyomdjian, Psychology Today

By working with a creative team, you can leverage visuals to make complex materials easy for your target audience to digest, whether they’re your customers, conference attendees, sellers, or marketers. Teaming up with your designer gives you control over the message so you can ensure the right things “stick”.

Neal Creative notes to powerpoint slide before and after example

Start early, build your story and brand along with your technology

As we mentioned earlier, starting the creative process early has benefits. One of them being that it offers time to collaborate with different stakeholders and teams, from engineering to marketing and sales, to ensure assets are accurate and useful.

This collaboration will also bring internal and external consistency within your brand, creating a stronger and more memorable message. That consistency and framework you create can then become the foundation for creating future sales collateral and marketing materials.

Starting early also allows you to visualize the end-result even as the technology or product continues through development, helping your team create early sales materials.

Neal Creative examples of mood boards and pre-launch materials


How early is too early?

Many companies are concerned with the putting aside the budget up-front for creative when the project is still in early stages. It can be daunting when you’re staring at a blank page, searching for a way to visualize the concept you want to convey.

However, it’s worth noting that your team doesn’t need to have a fully fleshed-out design in mind to get started. The content is what’s important. Once you have that outlined, a designer can transform your bullet points and notes into relevant graphics, digestible chunks of information, and professional assets. It’s not uncommon for us to work off paper napkin sketches, whiteboard drawings, and bullet points in your notes app!

As long as your team has an idea, designers can work with your marketing and/or development teams to make it a reality.

How Neal Creative engages with businesses

“Design is the intermediary between information and understanding.” – Hans Hoffman, painter

At Neal Analytics, we provide cloud, data, and AI consulting to support you throughout your business transformation journey. With teams made up of data scientists, industry experts, cloud engineers, project managers and more, Neal has the expertise to work on projects end-to-end. We’re a “one-stop shop”.

Neal Creative is part of that end-to-end approach. We offer creative, technical concept, and visual transformation to complement the business journey, expanding and building your brand along the way.

We are most well-known for our PowerPoint presentation transformations and helping clients take their concepts and make them presentable at executive level quality is a passion. Our presentations have been used across Tier 1 corporate events and executive keynotes, to BDM (business decision maker) and field sales .

We’ve even used our PowerPoint expertise to help organizations create cost-friendly options for animated videos that are both engaging and educational for the audience.

Animation of a customer walking through intelligent retail experience

Example from Ignite World Tour (Azure Stack Edge with Intel Inside)

In addition to building PowerPoint presentations, Neal Creative also helps businesses with…

  • Branding
  • Sales enablement materials
  • Video and animation
  • Creating templates
  • “Behind the scenes” work such as formatting, file management, version updates
  • And more

Flexible, scalable engagements

Just like any other project, Neal Creative offers flexible engagement models to help deliver excellence at any stage. That means we can quickly scale in-house to meet project demands and deadlines.

Need to design and format 30 breakout presentations in addition to your keynote? We can help with that. We can call upon multiple designers to tackle a large number of decks in a short period of time (while still ensuring cohesive design, accuracy, and file management.)

Our creative process

In addition to presentations that follow client branding, as a full-service graphic design business, we also create complementary marketing materials, saving the need to work with multiple vendors, and ensuring all materials and goals are cohesive and follow branding.

Whether starting from scratch or working within existing branding and templates, our creative team uses a proven, time-tested process to provide clients with professional and memorable designs:

Neal Creative process diagram

Conclusion: It’s all in the packaging

Just like how you wouldn’t want to gift someone a brand-new iPhone in a Ziplock bag, you don’t want to have the packaging (in this case, branded design materials) of your product turn off potential customers.

How can you cross that proverbial finish line strong? Include creative in your timeline and start early. This will help you and your team achieve consistent branding, technical accuracy, and a foundation from which you can continue to build and expand your message.

I hope we’ve opened your eyes to the creative process, and the benefits to starting the design phase early on in your journey. Ready to start your next creative project?

Learn more about our design services on our Neal Creative page.