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Confessions of a Creative Director [Leadership Spotlight]

By: Alyssa Dannaker

On this National Boss’s Day, we wanted to do a little bit more than thank Sagefrog’s leadership dream team. We opted to gain perspective on what their roles entail and why they love managing Sagefrog. As the walking definition of a visionary to all who know him, Sagefrog CEO and Co-founder Mark Schmukler frequently brings new growth ideas to the company and shares thought leadership with industry professionals and peers. But to add her voice into the mix and learn more about her unique leadership strategy, we focused our attention on Creative Director and Co-founder Suzanne Morris, a textbook integrator and all-around inspiring leader.

Take a look at our interview with Suzanne to hear what she had to say about the creative process and her role at Sagefrog.

“Management is not what you do to someone; it’s what you provide for someone.” – Gino Wickman and René Boer, How to Be a Great Boss

Q: What does your role as Creative Director and Co-founder at Sagefrog entail?

Suzanne Morris: I’m in charge of all operations as Co-founder, which means I oversee everything we do to deliver services to our clients – account management, content development, creative development, web development and all other service areas at Sagefrog.

As Creative Director, I manage the graphic design department, creating and reviewing the conceptual development of client deliverables. I’m constantly shifting between these two roles, so sometimes it can be difficult to get my mind back into the creative zone after assuming managerial responsibilities, but I get a lot out of doing both jobs every day.

Q: What makes Sagefrog’s approach to B2B graphic design unique?

SM: I’ve always thought that what makes Sagefrog different is our business-minded focus. We don’t develop creative for the sake of creative; we design with a purpose and create what really drives results for clients. Because of our industry and specializations, we have to be strategic so we can deliver the maximum value possible, sometimes on limited budgets.

Q: What do you enjoy most about the creative process?

SM: I like the organizational aspect of the creative process. I look at some projects as puzzles and it’s my job to solve the puzzle and make things come together on an 8 ½ by 11 piece of paper. I think I’m a little different than other creative directors in the industry because of my approach. Creatives tend to be unpredictable, but I’m not like that. I’m more attuned to detail and I think that’s what also allows me to perform well in both of my roles at Sagefrog.

Q: Are there any projects that you have fun working on the most?

SM: When a logo is really well done and stays around for a long time, it’s very exciting. I love developing new branding with whole visual identities, color palettes and imagery styles to coordinate with a logo. Seeing it applied and carried through materials in a way that introduces consistency that some clients have never had is especially rewarding for me.

Q: How do you overcome everyday creative roadblocks?

SM: For me, what works best is looking for inspiration in a variety of different places. Walking away and revisiting the work when I feel refreshed helps and relying on team members for brainstorming sessions can jog the process too. I don’t really require certain conditions for creativity, but my office is a warm and comfortable environment with natural light that keeps me productive and inspired.

Q: What do you like most about managing other creatives?

SM: So far, every designer I’ve worked with has come from a slightly different background other than B2B, so I’ve loved seeing them quickly pick up the ability to take their strong creative skills and adapt to our industry and audiences.

Women make up 46% of the advertising industry, but only 11% of creative directors are female.1

Q: What advice would you give to aspiring creative directors working in marketing or B2B?

SM: One important piece of advice I would give is to learn how to grow a thick skin while still standing by your designs and convictions. Over the years I’ve built up a tougher shell by not taking criticism personally.

So much of what we do as creatives is subjective. There are many different personalities that weigh into how things are received and it can be nerve wracking to put what you create out there for others to evaluate – your work can really feel like a part of your identity and people can be harsh. Also realize that just because your approach to a project for one client was right, doesn’t mean you should trust that instinct for another. One client could love it and others could hate it, but it’s important that you accept not everyone will like everything you make.

Q: Is there anything in the marketing industry that you are excited to explore further?

SM: Our newest graphic designer has brought a lot of experience in animation to the team, so I’m excited to discover more ways we can utilize such a forward-thinking skillset to push the creative boundaries for Sagefrog’s clients.

Schedule a consultation with us today. We’ll evaluate your marketing challenges and help you vet the option of adding content marketing into your mix. Our chat will even produce a free Marketing Plan Summary that will help accelerate your success.


Are you interested in B2B marketing services? Contact Sagefrog Marketing Group today.

1. The 3% Movement, What Women Want