When you work in an ad agency, marketing firm or brand development shop, you’re just expected to be creative. You’re pegged as one of those “creative types” who can spark an idea at the drop of a hat.
While not completely inaccurate – our agency has created some pretty awesome concepts on the spot – true creativity in our line of work can be a challenge. Clients expect clever ideas and it’s our job to deliver those ideas.
So, how do we do it? How do we keep delivering those breakthrough ideas for our clients? Unfortunately there’s not a formula for creativity – it’s part science, part artistry and part luck, mixed together with a healthy dose of hard work.
That said, there are techniques that precipitate the right environment for creativity. Here are 9 tips to help your team become more creative.
1. DO YOUR HOMEWORK.
Don’t skimp on your research. There’s no substitute for facts and data. You have to know your product, your customer and your market. If your budget doesn’t allow for proper research, then reconsider your pricing on future projects.
2. SMALL TEAMS WORK BEST.
A small team, three to four is perfect. If the team is too big, the group dynamics are awkward. Recruit a focused team who is genuinely excited about working together. More people doesn’t necessarily equate to more (and better) ideas.
3. CHECK YOUR EGO AT THE DOOR.
Just because you didn’t think of an idea doesn’t mean it’s not a great idea. If you’re in brand development or advertising for fame, reconsider your career choice. It’s mostly hard work with little recognition.
4. BE SILLY.
No matter how absurd the idea, or how ridiculous the conversation, continue to spill ideas. It’s surprising how many great ideas are conceived from pure silliness.
5. THINK THE OPPOSITE.
One exercise I like – think oppositely of the brand. Start by reciting the conventional description of the product or service. Next, flip the description 180 degrees. Use language the client would never use. Imagine visuals that contradict the brand. It’s a simple tactic, but it completely changes your perspective.
6. BE PATIENT.
Rome wasn’t built in a day and not all ideas are conceived in a single session. You will get “stuck” and that’s okay. When I feel like I’ve hit a wall, I go back to where I got off path and will go in a different direction. Just keep going and don’t quit.
7. CHANGE OF VENUE.
Try not to meet in your office and most certainly not at your desk. Go to a restaurant. Find a nice place outside. Just change your scenery. And if you need to take a break, take a walk around the block or go for a run. Many of our best ideas have been born well outside of our office space.
8. DON’T BE A WET BLANKET.
Nothing kills the momentum of a creative session faster than the proverbial ‘wet blanket’ – the person who nitpicks every idea. This isn’t the time for feasibility – this is the time to expand and experiment. Later, your team will determine what you can and cannot implement.
9. HAVE FUN.
Remember, creative sessions are supposed to be fun. If they’re not, you’re doing it wrong. Keep the session spirited and keep the ideas flowing even if you think you’ve already nailed the perfect idea.