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Creative Manager vs. Creative Director: What Are the Differences?

Learn about the two careers and review some of the similarities and differences between them.

A career in the creative arts can be both rewarding and challenging. For those with a passion for art and a desire to lead, a position as a creative manager or creative director may be of interest. Though these roles share some similarities, there are several key differences between them.

In this article, we discuss the differences between a creative manager and creative director, and we provide additional information on related careers in the creative arts.

What is a Creative Manager?

A Creative Manager is a professional who oversees the development and production of creative materials for an organization. This can include overseeing the work of advertising agencies, graphic designers, web developers, photographers, and other creative professionals. The Creative Manager ensures that the finished product meets the organization’s standards for quality and messaging. They may also be responsible for managing the budget for the project, as well as the timeline. In some cases, the Creative Manager may also be responsible for developing the creative strategy for an organization.

What is a Creative Director?

Creative Directors are responsible for the overall vision and execution of creative projects for their company or client. They work with a team of creatives, including graphic designers, copywriters, photographers and videographers, to produce high-quality, innovative work that meets the company’s or client’s goals. Creative Directors typically have a background in graphic design, advertising or a related field. They use their knowledge and experience to develop creative briefs, oversee projects from start to finish, provide feedback and make sure that deadlines are met. Creative Directors also keep up with industry trends and developments to ensure that their work is fresh and relevant.

Creative Manager vs. Creative Director

Here are the main differences between a creative manager and a creative director.

Job Duties

Creative managers and directors fulfill different duties, although some of their responsibilities overlap. For example, both roles manage teams of creative professionals and provide feedback on projects. The director oversees the entire creative process for a brand or company, while the manager typically evaluates specific campaigns or initiatives.

The creative director is the lead decision-maker for a brand’s creative strategy, including choosing the brand’s visual identity, such as logo, color scheme and typography. They also oversee the creation of the brand’s style guide, which includes the visual elements, tone of voice and copywriting standards. In contrast, the creative manager may help develop campaign ideas but rarely create the overall direction for a brand’s marketing efforts.

Job Requirements

Creative directors typically need a bachelor’s degree in advertising, marketing, graphic design or another related field. They also need several years of experience working in the creative field before they can be considered for a director role. Additionally, many creative directors have a master’s degree in business administration (MBA) or another advanced degree.

Creative managers also need a bachelor’s degree, but they may not need as much experience as creative directors. Many creative managers start their careers as entry-level employees in the creative field and work their way up the ladder. Some creative managers also have a master’s degree in business administration (MBA) or another advanced degree.

Work Environment

Creative directors and managers typically work in an office setting, but they may also travel to meet with clients or attend conferences. They spend most of their time working on projects, either alone or with a team. Creative directors often have more managerial responsibilities than creative managers, so they may oversee the entire production process for a project.

Creative directors and managers can both work long hours during busy periods, such as when launching a new product. However, creative directors usually work more hours because they manage teams and are responsible for overseeing all aspects of a project.


The main difference between a creative manager and a creative director is that a creative manager typically oversees a team of creatives, while a creative director is responsible for the overall vision and execution of creative projects. Both roles require excellent communication, organizational and leadership skills.

A creative manager needs to be able to motivate and manage a team of creatives, which requires strong interpersonal skills. They also need to be able to understand the creative process and give clear direction to their team. A creative director needs to have a deep understanding of the creative process in order to develop concepts and oversee their execution. They also need to be able to sell their ideas to clients and other stakeholders.


Creative managers earn an average salary of $81,567 per year, while creative directors earn an average salary of $109,151 per year. The average salary for both positions may vary depending on the size of the company, the industry in which you work and the level of experience you have prior to pursuing either position.


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