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Why Corporate America sucks for Creatives

Corporate America sucks for creatives

If you’ve been in business long enough and around an in house design group long enough to make friends, or worked in an in house design business. I’m sure you’ve heard designers complain about their corporate job. I did it for a long time too. Until I realized something fantastic… Corporate America is about people attempting to reach their individual dreams. They don’t care about creativity and never will. You have to be the captain of your own dreams. In fact, being an inhouse creative can be a terrible place for people with big dreams. This is especially true for young designers. The best thing I learned in house, was to correctly temper your expectations and take advantage of the benefits. Leave the rest at the door.

If you’re a creative working in corporate America you can probably relate to this article. I hope it gives you some hope and offers solace to know you’re not the only one. See if any of these statements sound like your corporate life:

  • Nobody gives creative attention, until they don’t like it.
  • Creative is undervalued.
  • The marketing department or creative department never has the funding, and its the first budget item to get cut.
  • Everyone thinks branding is just a logo, wall hangings and promotional signs.
  • “Quality doesn’t matter, I need you to be more productive.”
  • Good ideas get turned into really watered-down terrible ideas.
  • Design by committee is common place.
  • Executives don’t care about the process until final delivery and then want to art direct.
  • “I don’t tell you how to make your business reports, please don’t comment about the color choice.”
  • “I literally made that design thinking surely, there’s no way they’ll pick it…”

Blah blah blah. Deal with it. Every creative is in the same bucket. This is life in Corporate America for designers. There’s no getting around it. Design that sticks and design that people like aren’t the same thing. Didn’t you know that everyone is an artist and everyone is entitled to their official input. Its America. The problem is, most creatives feel this way, but don’t realize they’re trying to sell a bill of goods to an organization that sees creative as overhead. A necessary evil. The problem: Design work is not revenue positive.

Keep your house in order

Please, please, keep in mind most of the people who are in leadership roles in Corporate America didn’t graduate from art school, don’t have design degrees, and honestly don’t know what good actually is. Most of them majored in business and have an MBA. Most of them will default to what they last thought was cool, even if its 1994. Most of the time, the goal is not making a unique masterpiece, it’s reaching the revenue plan set forth by their boss. Understanding the corporate hierarchy and structure of your business will help any creative understand what you’re up against. Even the CEO of the company is responsible to the board members and, even worse, if it’s a publicly traded company, the Board of Directors has a fiduciary responsibility to the shareholders to create revenue. Which means the business needs a profit at all costs. Suck on that snowflake.

If you want the opportunity to make graphic masterpieces, go home and buy a set of paints

Simple math lesson. Profit (most basically) is calculated by income minus expenses. Therefore they easiest way to make more money is to minimize the expenses. Bottom line: reduce all the things that seemingly have no value and to increase profit. Of course that’s an oversimplification of things, but for this popsicle stand article. It’ll make a lot of sense.

thing life money changes design

You might be in the wrong place

This is the point: Executives are looking for profit and your role as a creative person is frustrated by not being able to accomplish the creative work that you want to do. The answer is simple. Find a place where people value creativity as much as profit. Chances are the company you work for isn’t in the business of selling creativity, they’re in the business of selling something else and your work exists to support the sales organization. Sales people are rock stars. Wanna know why? Because sales people generate revenue. If you want to get out of your crappy corporate design job, the only way to do that is find a company that sells creative (Motion Picture Studios, Netflix) or sells products based on good design. (Apple, Google, Nike, Audi etc.). Stop complaining about it and do the American thing. Stick it to the in house team. Set your plans in motion. Fly your flags high. Stop with all the Hollywood garbage. Make decisions for your family. Stop living for events that will never happen. Don’t try to squeeze something out of your corporate job that won’t ever happen. Its not going to get better. You work at a large corporation for the benefits and “stability”. Not the ability to be creative.

Career bottom line

So creative person, please do not be upset with your job and the fact that everybody undervalues the creative work that you do. Keep in mind your role is a cost savings role. So your job will always be minimized to the lowest dollar amount. If you want the opportunity to make graphic masterpieces, go home and buy a set of paints, popsicle sticks, and craft paper, and build the most beautiful wall stick sculpture the world has ever seen. But don’t expect your business school money loving boss to love your designs. Its not worth the effort. Give him some custom templates and daily save the best part of your brain power for own dreams.

House of Sticks has been there

House of Sticks is a custom built design agency full of the people who have lived through the experiences above. We all got together to make projects we wanted to make and do it well. It doesn’t matter if its graphic design, videos, websites, printing, photos, flyers, brochures, stickers or a popsicle flavor. At House of Sticks we build everything custom and answer client problems with good designs. We know how to write this article, because we run the business of creativity and understand client’s get the last word because they’re paying but most of the time are looking for the right amount of leadership and direction to get them to where they never could have gotten to alone. This is the power of a partnership with House of Sticks.
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