David O'Hearns, Founder & MD, Dawn Creative

David O’Hearns has worked within the creative industry for over 25 years. Starting as a graphic designer following his graduation from Newcastle University, Dave went on to start up his first creative agency in 2006. Following multiple successes with the likes of Bentley Motors, Adidas and Swiis Foster Care, he founded his second agency, Dawn Creative, in 2014. Since then, David and his team have created TV adverts, advertising campaigns, full brand identities, and more, for some of the world’s most prestigious brands. Dawn Creative specialises in brand, digital and motion. Working closely with businesses and marketing teams, Dawn Creative develops and manages brand identities to make sure they stay true to themselves and attract the right audience.


Creativity is typically viewed as a softer skill. Consequently, it’s rarely valued in business as much as it ought to be. When budgets are planned and operations strategised, finance and technology are favoured, with creative roles habitually sidelined – often the first to suffer in times of economic strain. But creativity can transform a business, directly impacting every element, from sales to employee engagement, helping to shape company culture and achieve financial goals. So, is it time for businesses to switch on to the power of creativity and introduce the Creative Director role to the company board?

Why does Creativity Matter in Business?

It’s easy to say that creativity can set a business apart, but it’s not always simple to look beyond the obvious. While creativity is necessary for marketing and brand differentiation – with the right creative input, you can attract attention, build brand awareness, capture the public imagination, and loom large in the B2B space and the consumer. But it’s also really important to understand that creativity can enhance a business’s inner workings.

When creativity is applied to areas such as HR, training, and forming company culture, you can help your business become more. Creative strategies can enable better communication, enhance the communal understanding of your company’s values, and strengthen cohesion within each team and the wider company. It can even work to boost operational performance. And it can do all of these things subtly, without patronising or alienating the workforce, making changes feel positive, even organic if managed correctly. But this rarely happens without the guidance of a Creative Director.

Understanding the Role of the Creative Director

The businesses that benefit most from appointing a Creative Director, rarely view it as an isolated role. Because a Creative Director can influence the success of every aspect of a business, they perform most effectively when the board embraces a collaborative approach, removing the territorialism often associated with director positions. With the application of creativity, it becomes easier to fulfil a wide array of objectives, whether reducing employee churn through more creative approaches to company culture, training, and communication, or achieving financial goals through innovative customer experiences, product development, and marketing. When the Creative Director works in collaboration with the Finance Director, targets may become more easily met because a second, alternative viewpoint is brought to bear on every problem, opening the opportunity for creative solutions to support and augment the more obvious, traditional response.

In essence, the Creative Director’s role is to view the established processes and problems of a business and innovate them with original and inspiring solutions.

Why are there so few Creative Directors?

The Creative Director is a relatively new post because creativity has been historically viewed as secondary not just in business, but in most societies. Creative roles are often dismissed as airy-fairy, and not ‘real’ jobs, the kind of positions parents have conventionally warned their children against – while little Johnny might have expressed an interest in drawing comics for a career, mum, dad, and the school careers advisor were likely to have pointed him in a ‘more realistic’ direction, whether finance, medicine, law, or the trades. Because, while we appreciate art and creativity, we don’t value it. And that’s a dangerous place to be especially when creativity can bring so much value – to businesses and to society as a whole.

Is there a place for Creative Directors on the Board of a Business?

We live in a world of high competition. With social media saturation and endless individual creativity on display almost everywhere you look, brand creation and differentiation are becoming more difficult. Businesses have to work harder not only to be seen, but to be seen in the right way – by both customers and prospective employees and partners. And the truth of the matter is that most are failing, due to a lack of creativity.

Introducing a Creative Director position to the Board can help to address these problems, building imagination, vision, and innovation into the foundations of a business, and supporting so much more than simply marketing. Rather, leading to the formation of creative working practices, feeding brand values and vision, and supporting the achievement of goals. And with a Creative Director involved in the decision-making within a business, creativity is protected throughout, helping to reduce the unnecessary loss of valuable talent when efficiencies are being made.

The Creative Director role holds an enormous amount of untapped potential. With the onboarding of the right candidate, it is a role that could transform a business, enhancing brand perception for customers, investors, and employees alike, and supporting an uplift in performance.

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