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Why you don’t have to compromise on great design in regulated industries

Why you don’t have to compromise on great design in regulated industries 1

By Andy Johns, founder and director of creative design agency Good Comms

The financial and banking industries are clearly heavily regulated, and compliance is crucial. Where design and creativity is concerned, it’s hard to imagine a situation where the compliance team of a bank or financial services business doesn’t occasionally lock horns with its creative teams.

Compliance departments tend to have a reputation for getting in the way, preventing business growth and stifling innovation whereas ‘creative types’ are often considered to be gung-ho, never letting the rules get in the way of a good concept.

Both teams believe that they have the organisation’s best interests at heart. But it doesn’t have to cause clashes and catastrophe or result in the damping down of creative talent. Keeping the compliance team happy and coming up with exciting and impactful design concepts is achievable – and with great results.

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 and attention to detail can often cause many a marketer pain as they see their plans kiboshed.

But, 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!

Andy Johns

Andy Johns

As a small but specialist creative agency, we work with many large financial services businesses so we’re very comfortable with regulation and compliance. The secret to our success in preventing fallout between compliance and creativity is to listen, really listen. Then, ask questions and listen some more. Our experience has taught us how important it is to have a complete understanding of the situation, the risks and the opportunities. The more of an organisation’s ‘fears’ that us creatives understand, the easier it is to build a true picture of what can and cannot be achieved.

Compliant creative design can absolutely be achieved through communication and collaboration.

Our advice to any financial services business when working with a creative team is to avoid frustrations by keeping the channels of communication open. Before any design commences, it’s key that the creative agency understands the hard lines and has the opportunity to address any concerns. It works for us too because the business will be much more receptive to listening to the rationale behind a design concept when the channel of communication is kept open and the creative team is able to fully immerse itself.

To save time and money, it’s crucial to collaborate with the compliance team 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 going to result in a realistic campaign or achieve the desired result.

No creative wants to revise their design again and again, as it has a habit of suppressing creativity, so it’s important to be clear from the start so that the creativity can flow without unknown boundaries getting in the way.

It’s not about being cautious either, it’s all to do with thoughtfulness and understanding social consciousness. Neither of these things are obstacles in the way of great design or of being bold.

It’s in everyone’s best interests to deliver the best creative design that is compliant. It would be foolish for an agency to think any differently. But many mistakes have been made, and widely publicised, where a business has let things slip through the net. Where slogans with double entendres or badly chosen images make the headlines and go viral. Make that mistake once and it’s game over, particularly in a highly regulated and compliant industry. And it won’t just be the reputation of the business that is at stake, it’s the creative agency’s reputation too.

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