Creatives like to think that we’re some kind of special breed, endowed with ancient mystical powers to summon killer ideas out of thin air. That’s only partially true. Sure, some people may be more predisposed to being creative, but being creative is like working a muscle, the more you do it, the faster and better you’ll be at it.
Even though creativity seems like an esoteric thing that’s hard to grasp and dissect as a process, tried and true methods for creativity do exist. Creativity has a formula, and when you’re working under deadlines and other restrictions, a set of step-by-step guidelines can be your best friend.
Many have outlined methods of increasing creativity and coming to a good idea, but the one that has worked best in our experience is pretty well explained in the below video by Kirby Ferguson, Ted Talk veteran and creator of the eye-opening “Everything is a Remix” online video series.
Okay, Ferguson certainly makes coming up with an idea seem pretty simple and cut-and-dry. Sometimes it’s not so easy, and within the advertising world, we don’t always have the time to really let our subconscious marinate in our subject matter. However, the structure of this method still works, and a condensed version has proven successful time and again. Let’s go through the steps with advertising in mind.
This is the easiest part since the boundaries are presented to us at the beginning of a project in the form of an expertly crafted creative brief. Here’s why a brief is so important: It guides the whole project and acts as a trellis for our vine of creativity to grow and prosper. Briefs will have all kinds of boundaries to help support our creative ideas, from print and size specifications, to audience behaviors, to intended brand messages. Get well acquainted with the boundaries of the project, and you’re off to a good start.
At DEVENEY, we call this step Immersion and Discovery, and it is such an important part of the process. This is when we consume everything we can related to our subject matter, the brand. How have they advertised in the past? What about their competitors? How does their audience interact with them? What do customers think when using the product or service? What has the media said about the brand? Like Ferguson said, watch, read, eat, smell and listen to everything related to the brand on which you’re working. Only then will you be primed to come up with a great idea.
Digest the Research
So begins the brainstorm phase. By now, you will likely have some ideas trying to escape your brain. Start writing or drawing any initial thoughts you’re having. Your mind needs to get these out on paper before it can start to think of the deeper, richer ideas that are waiting to see the light. Think on it, talk about it with someone or engage in a brainstorming technique like mind-mapping. Start to get those wheels turning, and make sure you’re documenting your thoughts.
When time allows, be sure to step away from the project and clear your mind of it periodically. The longer we work on something, the more likely we are prone to develop tunnel vision. Go toss a Frisbee or call a friend. You’re likely to have a fresh take on things when you get back to work and may start thinking differently about the project immediately.
There it is. Creativity isn’t magic, but it also isn’t easy. Use this system as a road map, and engage in all of the creative endeavors you can. With practice and time, you’ll get nimble and more effective when tackling a creative problem.
How do you get your creative juices flowing? Tweet us @DEVENEYnola using the #DEVchat hashtag.