Great design v compliance

“In the red corner we have the compliance team, and in the blue corner we have the creatives.” Ding ding. Round one.

It’s not hard to imagine is it? Two teams, both with the belief that they have the organisation’s best interest at heart, getting into a fight of sorts. But it doesn’t have to be that way, and I’m going to prove it. Keeping the compliance team happy as well as coming up with an exciting design concept is achievable – and with great results.

Compliance or Business Prevention?

I’ve overheard individuals refer to the compliance department as the ‘business prevention’ team. I think it’s fair to say that the compliance officers have heard that phrase too so I’m not disclosing something new.

I get it. The compliance department’s role is to uphold the reputation of the company, eliminate all risk of negative press and ultimately protect the bottom line. They see things others don’t. The compliance officer’s eagle-eye attention can often cause many a marketer pain as they see their plans kiboshed.

While the creative types might see this as business prevention and blocking them from doing their thing, what the compliance officer is actually doing is saving their ass!

We’ve got two ears and one mouth …

… use them in proportion to each other. To prevent fallout between compliance and the creative team, the key thing is to listen.

When I’m working with financial services organisations in particular, I listen – really listen. I’ll ask questions so I can listen some more and glean a complete understanding of the brief.

I’ll also want to hear how the sign off process works and what each step entails, things like who is looking out for what. The more of an organisation’s ‘fears’ I know about, I can build a true picture of what I can and cannot do.

All the C words

I was jotting down my thoughts before putting this blog together, and the use of words all beginning with C is purely coincidental: collaboration, communication, and the creation of compliant creative designs. Alliteration is so 80’s – forgive me!

Communicate: To avoid frustrations, you know the ones; the ‘face palm’ moments and the feeling that the other person is just being stubborn and not hearing what you have to say, open up a channel of communication.

Before any design commences, it’s key that the creative design agency understands their client’s hard lines and addresses any concerns. From experience the client is more receptive to listen to me explain the rationale behind my design concepts when I keep a channel of communication open.

Collaborate: To save time and money it’s crucial to get the compliance team involved in the early stages of design. It would be a lot easier just dealing with the marketing or sales representative who is keen for an agency to come up with the boldest and most dynamic creative design yet, but that’s not how it works.

I think if I had to keep revising a piece of work, I’d lose my mojo. Being clear from the start, steers me into a place where I can focus on being creative without ‘unknown’ boundaries getting in the way.

Create the compliant creative design: It’s in my best interest to deliver the best creative design that is compliant. I’d be foolhardy to think differently. An agency only has to make that mistake once and it’s game over – it won’t just be the reputation of the client that is at stake, it’s the creative agency’s reputation too.

Does the creative agency always need to be cautious?

I’m going to put the word cautious into Room 101 – and not just because it begins with a C! It’s not about being cautious, it’s all to do with thoughtfulness and understanding social consciousness. Neither of these things are obstacles in the way of great design and being bold.

Slipped through the net

It shocks me that some designs actually make it into the public domain. How they get sign off is beyond me. I can’t get my head around why an agency would even put these ideas in front of the client.

Shall we peek at some? I’m glad to report that when I was looking for bad examples I couldn’t see any for Financial Services – if you’re in compliance and you work in a highly regulated sector, give yourselves a pat on the back!

Do not repeat these mistakes!

The ‘Where’ magazine promoting great lifestyle decisions got this image placement completely wrong!

Well, that’s one way of getting your advert to go viral I guess.

Get in touch

If you work in a highly regulated industry and need great design, get in touch and let’s open up that channel of communication.


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