Creative direction can make the difference between a memorable, impactful brand and one that simply exists.

It is only through understanding and utilizing creative direction that fashion houses like Christian Dior, Yves Saint Laurent, and Céline became the iconic luxury brands we know today. By challenging industry norms and introducing new trends, multiple generations of creative directors were able to redefine their respective businesses’ directions and ultimately grow their audience.

But the importance of creative direction doesn’t only apply to the fashion industry. Across all fields, creative directors play crucial roles in building a brand’s identity and setting a cohesive tone for its multichannel marketing campaigns. Creative directors can come from a wide range of disciplines like art, design, marketing, and journalism. What matters is that they can lead a team of creative professionals and oversee the entire development of branding materials from conception to completion.

With a job that involves both a brand’s overall vision and its day-to-day operations, there is valuable insight to gain from creative directors when it comes to building a network of high-performing partnerships and long-lasting customer relationships. Here’s a look at some lessons from top creative directors.

1. Draw inspiration for your brand’s purpose — Maria Grazia Chiuri

In 2016, Maria Grazia Chiuri represented a breakthrough in a male-dominated fashion house as the first female creative director of Dior. Under Chiuri, Dior proved that women’s fashion is multifaceted. It can be pragmatic and approachable or divine and feminine when it needs to be.

Chiuri doesn’t execute this all by herself, however. Aside from working with a community of female creatives from different countries, her creative inspiration for the brand is tied to a long line of female progressive thinkers, painters, and writers who came before her. This shows the importance of knowing what you and your brand stand for yet still being inspired by others to either continue a legacy or create one yourself.

2. Learn how to work across different teams — Todd Tourso

Pop icon Beyoncé’s artistic work and vision are brought to life with the help of creative director Todd Tourso. What remains remarkable is how Tourso worked across different teams for the entire rollout of Beyoncé’s critically-acclaimed album Lemonade — from music videos and live performances to posters and merchandise.

Each team has its own unique perspective on art, design, and visual communication, and it’s a feat to be so well-versed in a wide range of themes and disciplines. So while it helps to find your niche or specialization, try not to be a one-trick pony. Continue expanding your knowledge, experience, and leadership skills by working with people from different professions and backgrounds.

3. Collaborate with people who complement you — Hayao Miyazaki

When you’re running any kind of business or organization, you’ll want to surround yourself with people who share the same passion and interests as you. But there is also value in collaborating with people whose strengths may be different from yours, as this allows you to complement each other.

Such is the case with Studio Ghibli’s creative director and animator Hayao Miyazaki, whose creative process is strengthened by his long-time collaborator and co-founder, Toshio Suzuki. Suzuki is incredibly familiar with Miyazaki’s tendency to lose focus and slow down his progress from time to time. Thus, he finds the right balance between moral support and tough love to activate Miyazaki’s productive and creative mode and eventually get him back on track.

4. Leverage your online and offline presence — Rihanna

Besides nine Grammy awards under her belt, multi-hyphenated artist Rihanna is also known for being the creative director of two brands, namely PUMA and Fenty Beauty. Rihanna is able to make a name for herself at this intersection of business and fame, mainly by leveraging her digital presence. She uses Instagram to promote her products in an authentic way through Stories and Reels, while her Twitter account showcases her executive side.

But while social media can be a viable avenue for brand awareness and customer loyalty, a previous look at the variety of networking events reminds us that there are opportunities waiting to be seized both online and in-person. Whichever channel you find yourself in, approach with an open mind and get to know people in both personal and professional contexts.

If you’re looking for a community where you can feel supported and form partnerships with fellow business owners, apply as a member of District Bliss and these opportunities will be within your reach.