Effective collaboration is essential for any innovative workplace today, especially when it comes to designing visual campaigns. Creating quality visual content requires several different kinds of expertise--more than could ever be found in a single person. You need careful research based on primary sources; you need  minimal text that distills that information in a useful way; you need designers who can bring the client's vision to life; and you need animators and developers to build motion graphics and interactive experiences.

A recent Inc. article suggests that collaboration actually stifles creativity--but you can't build a successful campaign without it. That's why it's important to carefully hone your project management tactics to optimize your visual assets, and make your collaborations a success.

Establish Goals

No project should start without clear goals in mind--or, even better, a single goal with measurable outcomes. Any visual asset that's created with more than one goal in mind runs the risk of falling short of achieving any of its goals.

What if Samsung tried to sell Galaxy phones and refrigerators in the same YouTube video? As a viewer, you'd walk away confused and disinterested. Because each product's potential buyers are likely defined by different demographics and lifestyles, you would normally place the refrigerator video on a different platform (say, as a commercial on HGTV) than you would the Galaxy video, which has broader appeal and could live on everything from social media to interactive microsites. The platform determines how long the video should be; the design style; the tone; whether it should feature on-screen text, voiceover, or music only--in short, the goal of the video guides every stage of its production, and when you start with two goals, you're compromising your team's ability to make the best possible content. A team with a single goal collaborates better, because they're all speaking the same language.

Identify Your Audience

Part of outlining a project's goal is determining what audience you want to target. Digital marketing has made it easier than ever to hyper-target for specific demographics, which can save you money--but only if you craft your visual content to appeal to that specific group. Many marketers, it turns out, are falling short in this regard. Recent Nielson research found that, in some cases, just 17 percent of targeted ads were actually reaching who they were intended to reach.

One of the first steps for any project should be outlining the demographics of your target audience. Depending on your goal, broad demographics can sometimes be successful. But with the proliferation of new platforms on what feels like a daily basis, going where your audience is means customizing your content more and more to fit those platforms--and the people who frequent them.

Imagine, for instance, that you want to create a single motion graphic that targets both Generation Z-ers on Snapchat, and fifty-somethings through television ads. The length of the spot, the use of voiceover versus on-screen text, the tone and vocabulary--all of these ought to vary dramatically between these two groups and their preferred platforms. If you try to achieve some average of the two, your creative team can only build a Frankenstein monster: your video won't appeal to either audience, and it'll be less than the sum of its parts.

Involve All Stakeholders

Everyone who is responsible for offering input on your project should be involved from the earliest stages, when you're determining your goal and target audience. This is true not only because all stakeholders should understand from the start the importance of identifying no more than one goal, but also how target audience determines the optimal form for each visual asset. You also don't want your collaborative process to lose steam when, late in the game, a new player enters and suggests a change to something as fundamental as the project goal.

One essential role of a visual communication team is client education. With the emergence of new mediums such as Augmented Reality, marketers and brands are playing an ever-accelerating game of catch-up. A visual communications agency should be an authoritative resource on these new mediums and platforms for its clients, but this education should happen early on in any project so that the client can make informed decisions. If some stakeholders aren't involved from the start, they'll miss out on this education process.

Successful project management can transform your visual communication. When you ensure that your team and all your stakeholders have a clear goal in mind, collaboration can unlock creative solutions and innovative visual content.