Tap into creativity and create original ideas
Time to address the elephant in the room and adorn it with sequins and strobe lights. Drawing stickmen does not make you uncreative, and no long lost collection of Einstein watercolours were ever found. In other words, everyone is creative and every business can be too. Profit will always be the driving force behind business but doing business creatively can improve lives, make unexpected things happen, spark collaboration, elevate authenticity, and overall improve the consumer experience.
Now more than ever, creativity is needed to stand out in the age of information overload. In a sea of templates and sameness, be the flamboyant starfish with an insatiable hunger for crocheting.
There is no ten-step process to creating groundbreaking creativity, but there are some inspirational thought starters to get you, at least, thinking about exploring creativity for yourself and your brand.
Geographical location really doesn’t matter and does not necessarily hold you back, you don’t have to be situated in the centre of New York to create great work. Wieden + Kennedy, arguably the global leaders in advertising, are tucked away in Portland, not exactly a major cultural hub, but their agencies creative work is behind the much-admired Nike ads. Artist, Ester Maghlangu, one of South Africa’s national treasures, is inspired by her Ndebele heritage and comes from Middleburg, a small town in Mpumalanga, once again proving that creativity does not only emerge from big metropolises.
For me, growing up, creativity was escape and imagination, from my grandfather’s metal scrap yard in Germiston, to obsessively recording MTV music videos in Beachview. The places I have been and where I live informs so much of my work and what matters to me. Appreciating the things around you and expressing that in your business can make your brand stand out.
So now you may be wondering, “How do I tap into creative thought and create unexpected and original ideas?” I believe originality is possible when we draw from personal experiences, and combine them with existing cultural elements to create new things. Take hip-hop, for instance, a cultural movement born from jazz and the blues.
Another important thing to spark creativity is to collaborate. Making the circle bigger and tapping into the skills of others can result in solutions that may never have been possible through solo exploration. In a dog-eat-dog world, take things to the next level, partner with other brands and create great collaborations.
Curate your way to creative thinking, follow inspirational accounts and take advantage of having access to creative profiles. Another way to curate is to use Pinterest, sign up to your favourite brand’s newsletter, and look to podcasts for thoughtful dialogue on inspiring topics. Marketing doesn’t have to be limited to social media posts, harness the power of niche newsletters to build databases, and start conversational podcasts with thought leaders.
In Judd Apatow’s latest book titled Sick in the Head, he writes, “Do not be afraid to share your brand story, or to be vulnerable and open when telling it.” I think this is great advice. I also believe that one should not overthink, as creativity is not perfection. There are so many filters and cliches, people want to hear relatable intentional stories that are attainable. Instead of promising self-actualisation through product, let’s just be real. Dove did this most famously by flipping the beauty industry on its head with raw content. More recently Nike has been aligning itself with important conversations about human rights. If you are being truly authentic, then you won’t have to second guess your choices.
To harness true creativity, learn from the best. Reach out to industry leaders, sign up to workshops and never stop learning. Leverage the knowledge of people who have put thousands of hours into their craft. I am pretty sure your cousin can create a logo for your brand in photoshop (sacrilege), while writing a novel in Word, but this does not mean it will be brilliant work.
Embrace digital transformation
Embracing digital and utilising it well also takes creative thinking. Blockchain technology, virtual reality, artificial intelligence and the age of the algorithm is here to stay. All of these advances in technology will affect branding, and if you can’t keep up you will need to align with professionals who can. In the digital world, consumers want experiences, authentic stories, transparency, and meaningful content that adds value to their lives.
As a creative living in the information age, it is also vital to plug out. Responsible businesses need to acknowledge this and allow their employees to have time away from screens. When it comes to ideation and creativity – pen paper and a quiet place with minimal distractions is needed. Think, reflect, solve – forget about the beeping notifications and be present. This space is where great creative ideas will manifest.
In the words of the iconic and trailblazing Missy Elliot, a woman who has produced creative work spanning generations and continues to mix things up, “Put your thang down, flip it and reverse it.” Whether that ‘thang’ is paint, pixels or calculations try something unexpected and make magic.
By Tamarin Fraenkel