Creativity done well looks effortless.
You know a creative campaign hits the mark when you’re floored by a truckload of ‘wow, I wish I’d thought of that’ professional envy.
Whether it’s a digital campaign that spreads like wildfire to instantly become the talk of the office, a TV ad that totally justifies the significant feat that is enduring an evening of your housemate’s / partner’s / relevant family member’s questionable choice of TV scheduling, or a print ad that has you nodding in quiet admiration as you scan the freesheet on your daily commute, you know a brilliant piece of creative work when you see it.
Creativity done well looks effortless. The proverbial swan gliding on water, creativity is the result of infinite ideas kicking about in the background. Take it from inventor and creator, Thomas Eddison: “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
The capacity for creativity on demand is a luxury few, if any, are blessed with. Creativity needs careful nurturing to grow and flourish. A recent post on the HubSpot blog looked at how some companies are using company policy to boost office creativity. From flexible working to year-long sabbaticals, it’s a great insight to how some of the most creative teams in the world, including Pixar and Google operate.
Whether you’re looking for ideas on how to brief your marketing agency for your next campaign (especially if you’re suffering one of those, ‘I know what I want, but I don’t know how to explain it’ moments), or you’re an open-minded marketer whose creative mojo has temporarily gone astray, Rave has pulled together a summary of some of the fail-safe creative strategies we use and love.
Creative strategies we use and love
In his influential and inspirational Creative Advertising book, Mario Pricken says doodles have three advantages:
- Doodles are an essential means of communication, enabling the rest of your team to see, and therefore understand, the images in your head.
- Doodles reinforce the associations of internal images and so trigger new ideas in a playful way.
- Doodles enable teams to develop raw ideas in gradual stages and so prevent good ideas from being killed off prematurely.
Now, pass me the Sharpie.
2. Keep a pen and notebook to hand.
For all your inspired scribbles and doodles, of course.
Keep one in your bag and one on your desk (obviously). By your bed (for when inspiration rudely interrupts your slumber at 4am). And even in the bathroom (especially the shower). Ever get an ‘I had a great idea in the shower’ moment? Same here and it seems we’re not alone as there’s plenty of research to back up the notion that showers may help us be more creative. In fact, it seems there’s even a host of shower-friendly, waterproof notepads, designed for this very purpose. A genius idea, no doubt conceived under a torrent of water.
Plus, as science suggests that writing free-hand can help keep the creative ideas flowing, there’s even greater reason to keep a notepad within easy reach.
3. Sleep on it.
“It is a common experience that a problem difficult at night is resolved in the morning after the committee of sleep has worked on it.” John Steinbeck
Whether it’s a power nap at your desk, ‘sorry boss, it’s all in the name of creativity’ or a solid eight hours with your head on the pillow in the land of nod, things always look different, clearer even after a restful 40 winks. There’s plenty of research which shows how sleep can help reinforce learning, help us make sense of patterns and boost our creativity.
So, if you’re working to a deadline, staring, zombie-like at the screen, willing creative inspiration to wash over you, you may be better advised to sneak off for a few, totally-justified zzzzs.
4. Team work works. But know the rules.
As this post from BufferSocial suggests, effective brainstorming can have some fairly complex rules of engagement. Don’t let that put you off though, as brainstorming has a role to play in developing creative ideas.
We’re advocates of the advice from Mario Pricken that the key to a group discussion reaping creative rewards is ensuring that there’s a high level of trust between team members. In his book, Creative Advertising, he argues that smaller teams work best, “Don’t have more than four people in a creative meeting… Small teams learn to trust each other faster and the members feel more confident about unleashing their wildest and most risky ideas.”
And as Pablo Picasso – who knew a thing or two about creativity, said, “The chief enemy of creativity is good sense.”
So next time you’re part of a brainstorm session to find a creative solution to a problem, remember to park the sensible and the tried-and-tested outside and allow your mind to unashamedly run free.
5. Get signed up.
Keep an eye on your competitors and sign up to blogs and newsletters from brands and agencies you love (you can sign up to ours here) or follow them on Twitter and Facebook for instant inspiration delivered direct to your inbox.
A quick glance of the headlines and an easy-to-read summary of some of the latest campaigns can help spark creative thinking throughout the rest of the day. Even if it’s a case of ‘why on earth did they do that, I’d have done it like xxx’, keeping in touch with what others are doing is a great way to keep the creative cogs whirring.
JWI rates: Some of the JWI Faves blogs and newsletters are listed below and there’s always something to start a debate here in the JWI office.
For design, print and advertising we love www.creativebloq.com, for digital news we like ClickZ UK(previously known as dot.rising). Marketing Week, econsultancy and The Drum we use for keeping on top of news and trends in marketing, and for advertising, media and technology we keep an eye on Adweek, especially the Advertising & Branding: Creative page. PR Moment is a good resource for PR news, and we especially love the regular Good and Bad PR feature. For other creative blogs take a look at design-blogs.co.uk.
6. If all else fails.
Type a search term related to your product or service into Google and see what comes up. The results may deliver some unexpected links and could help you view your product or service from a different perspective.
Next, get the thesaurus out and go on a word trail to see where the results take you. A bit of free association for the digital age if you like.
Using Pinterest in a similar way can have powerful and very visual results – a simple search term can conjure countless posts and images for you to pin for easy reference and creative inspiration.