4 Creative Directors Tell Us Why The Future of Visual Content is Broader Than You Think
By Ellen Clipson - 7 min read
We asked four (very different) creative directors, why they are producing content within an era of rapid content consumption, and where they want to take their visuals next. Their insights may just change your view on the scope of your brand's visual content.
If you are struggling to find a clear strategy amongst the ongoing narratives of content creation, then these four stories could be the refresher you and your team need.
Each with a professional journey different from the next, these four female creative directors are proving that the impact of visual content is even more broad than you may think.
Four Creative Directors, Different Industries, New Ways of Seeing Content.
We are seeing that brands are now defined by those who experience them, meaning the power and importance of visual integrity has reached an all-time high.
The future of content may reflect the world of your audience, but nurturing the correlation between your content and it’s viewers is becoming increasingly complex.
How do you make your creative direction effective when your audience is a diverse collection of people around the globe.
The interactive nature of content through social media means that images, videos, and graphics are not only visiable around the globe in a matter of seconds, but they also invite their audience to interact with them at the same rate.
Visuals are essential.
With consumers retaining 80% of visuals and only 20% of text, it’s clear that if you want to take your brand to new places, you should be looking to your brand’s visual language, and more importantly, it’s scalability.
The key to successful visual content is recognition. Recognising how the patterns and shifts, both within and outside of your industry, are affecting where your audience is interacting with your brand is vital.
Are your visuals meeting your consumers in the same creative space in which you are operating in, or are you trying to connect with them on a narrative that became redundant yesterday?
We spoke to four innovative creative leaders to see what they think about the significance of visuals now, and for the future.
Iona Goulder - Creative Director at Kyra TV
Making Visual Content New-Age
It is now far from uncommon for the statement ‘content creation’ to appear, seamlessly, within the everyday conversations of teenagers and young adults. What does this mean for your brand?
As creative director at Kyra TV – a new-age TV Network with a mission to embrace the changes of how young people are consuming media, Iona Goulder is taking her content right to Generation Z.
If you are still focusing your visual content towards the Millenial generation, maybe it’s time broaden your audience, Iona tells us why.
Your TV show Nayva is aimed towards Generation Z, how does this influence the way you produce visual content?
We had Gen Z audiences in mind when working on the concept and strategy for Nayva. It was a conscious decision to cast four Gen Z presenters and our team live and breathe the ideas, values, and passions of this audience.
Having grown up with technology at their fingertips, it’s a generation that has a very global view of the world. Therefore, influences on Gen Z can the same in one location to another on the other side of the world. There is a kind of global language that our audience is able to speak because of how they are connected to each other.
Gen Z is also not afraid of brands in the same way as people have been previously. There was a lot of brand skepticism for Millennials where the industry norm was to hide the fact that you were working with a brand.
With our audience, it’s more about being completely transparent about working with brands, and this can be an amazingly powerful tool.
Brands allow us to go to more places, to tell better stories, and Gen Z are not intimidated by that. We’ve found that our audience have reacted well to large multinational corporations that they feel more affiliated to, as well as independent brands they may never have heard of before.
Talking of Nayva, what is the message you want the show to put across, and how does this influence your creative direction?
When we started Nayva in October we were on a mission to make fashion more accessible, less serious, and inspire our audience to experiment with style and self-expression. I strongly believe this message is at the core of what we do, but as Nayva grows I see a need to speak to wider issues that concern this generation.
We’ve grown and developed such a strong voice, a real foothold in this creative space, in such a short amount of time. We are really aware of the power we have to be a positive voice when it comes to issues of mental health and climate change, and so I see the future of our content speaking more about the issues we believe in.
How do you go about making sure your visual content is approachable and relevant to such a diverse collection of people?
I spent a huge amount of time meeting with people from the Gen Z demographic. It allowed me to gain an insight into the audience in a very visceral way that I hadn’t yet experienced in my career.
Working on digital content, tools such as Youtube and Instagram are critical for us. Ultimately we’ve developed a certain ‘feedback loop’ with our audience where we utilize the comments on our videos. It allows us to react by tailoring it to the feedback we receive from our audience.
We are able to implement change more quickly than a big TV network, and so I think that is the most unique element that goes into the production of our visual content.
How do you see your content standing out against the mass of content being produced everyday?
We’re making something that lives online, but with the production value of television. Nayva is one of a handful of channels on YouTube who approach content creation in this way –this sets it apart from others in the space.
One thing I have learned as a creative director is that it takes time to create something of meaning and substance that will be truly impacting at a global scale. Content creation is a massive creative space, and it requires a level of patience to build something meaningful.
What do you see as the future of digital content on platforms like Youtube?
At Kyra TV we aren’t producing short form content. Our episodes are a minimum of 18 minutes long, and so in terms of digital content our visuals fall under longfrom media. In that way we are challenging the status quo.
The future of visual content? The way in which budgets are being split means that more people are getting a smaller amount. Companies now need to be a lot more intelligent with how they choose to spend their money.
At Kyra, we use the word community a lot, and that’s what these digital platforms provide. They provide people with an opportunity to build online communities, and that’s the reason why more brands are moving towards them. By collaborating with creators on these platforms, you are able to speak more authentically and engage with these communities.
How do you see more industries using digital content as a way of connecting with their audience?
I think whether it be fashion, beauty or lifestyle, it’s just entertainment. For me, it all goes back to storytelling and that’s why I don’t think that my career will be defined by fashion or lifestyle. Rather, it will be defined by great stories, and amazing narratives.
Storytelling is completely transferable to any industry. It’s about our creative innovation, how we can entertain and tell people our story.
Sarah Ullman - Director & Co-Founder of One Vote At A Time
Making Visual Content Impacting
LA-based filmmaker, Sarah Ullman, is taking her unique creative direction into complex political spheres with the aim creating compelling content that will change mindsets. One Vote At A Time is a group of all-female filmmakers that donate outstanding film campaigns for political candidates who don’t have access to the resources they need.
Sarah’s wealth of knowledge and experience of visual content came from her years working for film producers, and as a freelance filmmaker and director. Following a sense of helplessness when facing the issue of gun violence, Sarah felt it was time to produce visual content that will get more people that believe in gun safety elected. Now she connects critical and progressive visual storytelling with real people, living everyday lives, as a catalyst for change.
For you, what is the power of visual content?
We live in such a visual world, and that’s how people are used to consuming information and receiving stories. What we’re trying to do by making social issues more visual, is simply trying to meet people where they’re at already. Film as a tool for activism and storytelling is years old, we’re just being more strategic about using this legendary tool.
Having founded One Vote At A Time in 2016, what does the organization mean to you personally?
It’s about the process of having an idea and feeling moved to make a change. Last year, we worked with 191 candidates, making 573 free videos, across the United States of America.
I went from crying on my couch following news of another shooting, to being moved to do something about gun violence. Seeing the impact that myself and my team have made throughout the country makes me grateful. I realised that when I felt confronted by issues, a new creative significance was found by using my skills for good and to take some power back.
What does it mean to be a Director and an Activist? How do these ‘roles’ collide?
In my perspective, they are one in the same. As a filmmaker, you are always looking to make something living and breathing – content that is going to do something for the world. My choices as a director are always going to be aimed at making that something positive. When facing the issue of gun violence, the stakes of life and death are so high for so many people, it’s hard not to remain motivated to keep producing meaningful content.
What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a Director?
The surprising amount of corruption in the state level political process meant that many political operatives have control over financial resources for candidates. Often candidates are given a very select list of production companies that they are allowed to work with. This commonplace corruption is something we’ve encountered, and we intentionally aim to disrupt.
How did you go about making One Vote At A Time scalable from one state to the whole country?
So, the first part of my answer, is that we found that the director Joss Whedon, wanted to finance our work. He gave us the money that we needed to accomplish the scale and scope of what we had set out to do.
The second part is about how many candidates we decide to serve. We wanted to help as many people that weren’t necessarily getting help from other resources within the political system. There are a lot of hard costs in production, of which, often exceed the maximum contribution limits for each candidate. We have to look at our budget, our time and resources and then spread them across as many candidates as possible. It’s often similar to a game of tetris.
How do you go about ensuring your visuals tell stories to such a diverse collection of people?
We listen very deeply, and closely to the person whose story we’re telling. We let them guide us because nobody knows their community better than they do.
We really are close collaborators with the people that we’re serving. That’s how we’re able to help create such diverse stories – every piece of visual content we produce is different, because every person is different.
How do you maintain your own visual language as an organization and as an individual within that collaboration process?
It’s really hard to turn out the volume of videos that we do and still feel like I’m being creative and staying true to my own aesthetic. A crucial part of tackling this is that we hire other directors. Last year, we worked with five other directors – all women. We keep our content fresh by allowing different voices to come to the table.
How would you describe the creative climate right now, and how does that affect your creative direction in the political sphere?
Art connects people to one another, and there is nothing more urgent that human connection. I knew that art and creativity was the answer to fighting back, as it allows people to answer to political calls in their own way.
Whilst our art form is especially strategic, I think there’s a lot of artists doing compelling work and also fighting back.
People are digesting visual content at a rapid rate. How do you make sure that your imagery portrays a long lasting message?
We work backwards to produce our content. Firstly, we think about how or where somebody would watch our films, and then match the content to that. We also optimize it for different platforms, for example we know that faces evoke reactions when scrolling on social media. We think pretty carefully about these details in our visual content.
What would be your biggest piece of advice for brands working in different sectors using visual content to remain relevant and put across a positive message?
I think there are a lot of firms or brands that are scared to be political. Yet, politics is so closely tied to our everyday lives. Brands such as Nike and Patagonia are standing out right now as they are recognizing ‘the moment’ we live in. It’s these brands that will be rewarded for being on the side of progress.
Sasha Benz - Creative Director at the Beach Lodge, Founder of Cinq App & All My Friends Are Models
Making Visual Content Experiencial
Having moved to New York in pursuit of a career in fashion, Sasha Benz has taken her experience as a professional stylist, and applied her creative skills across a number of fields.
After launching the online magazine All My Friends Are Models, Sasha has not slowed down in her pursuit of new challenges and creative projects. Now also, creative director for the ‘it’ hotel and creative space, Surf Lodge, as well as founder of the professional networking app, Cinq. Sasha tells us why visual content goes way beyond a laptop screen or a social feed.
What is effective collaboration to you and how has that influenced the way your approach the numerous brands you are directing?
Effective collaboration is about applying trust and respect. Balancing things is one thing, but being organized and trusting people is another.
With all of the teams I have worked with, they have held very different elements of mutual respect and complementary strenghts in the areas that I am weak. There is a really delicate and harmonious balance within each one.
Every team is empowering and supportive of all of my ventures. It’s so important that they believe in what I’m doing outside of you their sphere, and I think that’s where I’ve seen the flow of collaboration throughout my career.
I want to partner with people that have the same understanding about the creative process as I do. People that aren’t afraid to take risks. Everybody is trying to stand out, and so I think it’s about not being afraid to take leaps to create things that haven’t been seen before.
When it comes to Cinq, what ‘need’ did you see the app fulfilling and why do you feel it’s important today?
There was a pain point that needed be solved. The app’s central goal was about managing how we meet people and exchanging contact information. I had such a terrible way of managing the inustry and so we built something for someone in my positions, but would make sense on a global scale for others and their unique networks.
We found that many people work within both formal and informal groups, and so we continue to effectively go after the problem we originally set out to solve, but we now have a more tactical approach of doing so.
We are having conversations with these social groups to target and identify specific issues that they’re facing and we are confident that by building an app that will address these problems we will be able to gain traction and produce a powerful tool that is relevant to the everyday needs of our audience.
How do you navigate the collision of creativity and technology?
The idea of merging tech, digital and the creative world is something almost every company needs to prioritize. It’s about creating an experience that is relevant to multiple channels, and can work across different mediums.
The Surf Lodge is all about building an experience that be translated onto multiple digital platforms. How have you adjusted your creative direction to face the changes in content consumption?
During my first year at Surf Lodge I was really determined to create a new digital presence and event team.
This initiative involved building an event space that featured interactive art pieces and visual set ups for guests to engage with. For lack of a better word, these were ‘content areas’ were people were able to post into the social world, whilst also enjoying the experience first hand.
How would you describe the power of experiencial visual content?
I am responsible for bringing in partnerships that transcend the stereotypical. What I want to do is create a brand experience that cross-pollinates audiences in a more creative and ‘outside the box’ way. Moving away from step and repeat techniques, and building a space that people can really absorb, touch and feel what the brands are really about.
What is the thing that you think is the most important element when it comes to visual content. How does it speak about the past, present, or future of the creative industry?
Technology has been enhancing the creative world for a while now. On my end, they run hand in hand. The best way for me to describe the impact of the digital era is to look back to when I started All My Friends Are Models.
I was very controlling over the process. I didn’t want anyone else involved in building the website or developing the content. But as I’ve worked closely with the team, I have realized that working within the creative industry allows you to outsource your own creative experience, and collaborate with others.
Tori Hinn - Creative Director at Figma, Freelance Designer & Writer
Making Visual Content Collaborative
As creative director for, the interface design software; Figma, Tori Hinn’s work shows us that combining your visual content with ever-changing technological spaces can encourage positive creative collaboration.
When working simultaneously as a freelance creative director and graphic designer, Tori contributed to a number of advertising campaigns for brands including Youtube, Google and Black Girls Spark. Tori talks to us about the importance of bringing visual content and technology even more closely together.
How would you describe the ‘power of visuals’? What do you want your visual language to say about the past, present, or future of the creative industries?
Visuals have the power to change minds, make someone feel something, bring awareness, and encourage delight. They also have the power to oppress, damage, confuse, and hurt. It’s important to understand this power and decide how to use it.
I want my visual language to change and grow as I do. I can look at the work I made ten years ago and recognize where I was at during that time, what I was feeling, and what I was trying to fight for.
In the future, I want people to look back at my visual language and know there was hope and curiosity in the past. Whereas today, I want people to look at my visual language and know there is hope and curiosity in that future.
As Figma’s Creative Director, how have you taken on the challenge of combining content creation and the importance of visuals, with the expansion of the technology industry?
Technology allows graphic design to take on so many new forms, especially digitally interactive ones. Interaction has been around for a long time (before computers existed), but with the technology that now exists, there are new modes of imagining.
Technology helps us to reach widely and deeply. You can design something that the entire internet might see and engage with! I think that’s amazing, but it also brings a lot of responsibility. At Figma, I’d like us to understand this responsibility and use our visibility to inspire people and highlight a number of different voices in design.
When working as a freelance creative director and graphic designer, you’ve worked with a number of brands including Google, Youtube and Etsy. What does it mean to you to collaborate and work with brands, and how do you remain authentic in your own creative voice?
I see brands as a sum of their parts, of the people that build them. For me, it’s hard to make a large singular shift in a very large company. I like to think I can affect things by helping others around me to do good work.
Every brand has been different to collaborate with. It’s a good challenge for me, to see how my skills and perspective can be flexible to work on something new and maybe a little alien to me.
I think I remain true to myself by sticking to my ethics and letting them guide the work I do. I want to make sure I’m helping and not hurting with my design work.
You recently worked with Black Girls Spark - what did this project mean to you?
This project was started originally by Deneesha Lawrence, who is an amazing producer. She had the idea of making something that would empower young, black women in technology and encourage young girls to go into STEM fields.
Along with the writing of Prit Patel and the film work of Jordan Hollander, we turned it into Black Girls Spark — a video series and resource hub that aimed to support and empower young girls whilst they navigate their education and careers.
How did you navigate your own development as a creative leader?
I see success in little moments everyday. It doesn’t need to be a big shining moment of success where I’ve gotten to the top of the mountain, instead, I feel successful when my team feels empowered to do good work. I feel successful when I’ve helped others and I feel successful when I can pause and enjoy the things that I’ve made.
So what does the future of visual content look like?
How do we make our content impacting for both the individual and the masses? Should we be targeting our content precisely – personalising every step of the user journey – or should we be intentional about broadening our content’s relevancy to world-wide audiences?
These four directors speak boldly about widening the scope of their visual content and exploring the possibilities of visual content across multiple industries and sectors.
No matter where your business, brand, or organization may be positioned right now, the path towards growth starts with your ability to prioritze visual content. By doing so, you will be able to take your brand to new creative spaces, new audiences, and new opportunites.
Want to take your brand’s visual content to new places? EyeEm is home to fresh talent and industry-leading professionals. Our technology connects your creative brief with the right talents around the world. Why not reach out to our team now to discuss how EyeEm can take your brand’s next advertising campaign further.