Google, from the outside, is a strange and magical place.
First off, their effectiveness: they didn't exactly invent the internet, but it'd be hard to find a part of the internet's modern form that hasn't in some way been shaped by their efforts. That's unique, and phenomenal.
Second, and maybe more interesting from the designer's perspective, are the unique ways in which they engage their employees: from their famous "20% policy," to their remarkable workspaces, to their coder-driven development process, essentially unfettered by the demands of marketing.
So, what would it be like to work as a creative professional amidst all this braininess, peculiarity, and success? The two-year-old Google Creative Lab, an idiosyncratic venture in the best Google tradition, offers a small window in. Headed by former Ogilvy co-president Andy Berndt, the Creative Lab was conceived as a cutting-edge multi-platform branding studio with a pile of creative talent and a single client. Finding the right creatives for an entity so bizarre and exciting is a daunting task, and we at Coroflot have been extremely fortunate to gain the ear of one of the people most responsible for completing it: Creative Lab recruiter Emily Delmont.
Emily will be joining us at the San Francisco installment of the Coroflot Creative Confab this month to talk about this process, but we've gotten in a couple of our most burning questions ahead of time. Read on for some thoughtful explanation (we're particularly fond of the idea of a healthy inner-geek), or, if you're in the Bay Area, come join us for the discussion panel and networking event on October 21st.
The Creative Lab is obviously a unique venture: a branding studio working within a company that famously has no marketing department at all. Does this make it challenging to find designers who can work in such an environment? What's a good Creative Lab hire look like?
Contrary to popular opinion, Google does have a global marketing team and the Creative Lab is a part of that broader marketing effort. The projects that Lab works on at the Creative Lab are high-profile, global and use a variety of mediums. Attracting great creatives to do this kind of work is made easier because we don't approach marketing in typical manner. A marketing campaign does not only mean putting our logo on a bunch of billboards around town. We look for ways to leverage our products in other innovative ways that make sense for our users and improve the experience that Google delivers to them. One example is Chrome Experiments, a somewhat unconventional project for a company to do but something a crew at the Creative Lab can execute because of it's unique position within Google. Another example is bringing code.google.com into the mix of a Radiohead video.
The Google Creative Lab is a small team that strives to re-think marketing across every kind of media - currently existing or not, with Google as its sole client. Our job is to manage the Google brand, find new ways to communicate the company's innovations, intentions and ideals, and do work of which we can all be immensely proud. The Lab's mission is to remind the world what it is that they love about Google. The studio is the production arm, focusing on translating the creative work into a variety of assets.
At Google in general as well as at the Lab, we value what people have accomplished and what makes you interesting as a person. We are looking for people with fabulous portfolios demonstrating that they have a huge breadth of experiences and versatility. We're big fans of someone whose work shows that they are passionate about doing things differently and not always taking the safe route. A great candidate has a background has a healthy inner-geek that goes beyond pure aesthetics, is passionate about their work and thinks of their job as an adventure. Someone with a true adventure-seeking, entrepreneurial spirit.
Freelance-to-staff is an increasingly common employment mode in the creative world, and you've mentioned the Creative Lab uses it pretty extensively. Are you finding potential hires that get turned off by the idea of undergoing a "trial period," or is it just accepted practice?
We leverage freelance for a variety of reasons. The most likely scenario is that we have some short term needs based on specific projects or body of work but aren't sure if we have a long-term need. Sometimes the stars align and we're able to transition those folks into full time roles. At Google, we have a very flat hierarchy which means that people with the same titles may have different levels of experience. So therefore, in our full-time hires we may be looking for a broader level of experience and versatility vs. someone who is coming in to fill a short-term, specialized need.
Delmont will be appearing with similarly intriguing experts from the creative hiring field, from some similarly innovative companies: IDEO, LinkedIn, and creative staffing agencies 24 Seven and Aquent. Check out the Confab page for details and registration info.