Despite operating in an industry typically known for being ‘creative’, creativity in communications isn’t as easy as you might think. A lot of the time, it’s not as simple as receiving a brief, diving into a brainstorm and walking out with a handful of award winning campaign ideas.
First off, it’s about reframing the problem:
Client briefs will look at the problem from the business’ point of view
The business needs more sales, a change in perception, an increase in awareness. These are all very important and equally as valid — it’s why the need for a brief exists in the first place, but we’re not going to develop our best work focused on these goals alone. If you just talk about yourself, you’re not going to be heard. More often than not, it’s an agency's responsibility to turn that client brief into a creative brief.
Creative briefs look at the problem from the audience point of view
By understanding the audience’s motivations and pain points, then aligning the right problem of theirs to the business problem, we’re now moving into greener territory. We’re coming up with ideas that will genuinely resonate with that audience, and by focusing on the most compelling audience problem, we’re laser focused on one issue.
And that’s important because each person’s ‘creative process’ is different: that’s the beauty of creativity. The creative brief levels the playing field. For some, sparks start to fly in any brainstorm, no matter the information given, but for others that guidance and constraint of a good creative brief focuses the mind in the right direction.
Secondly, with the creative brief in hand, it’s about an effective brainstorm process:
In one recent session, we put our clients in the shoes of celebrities, politicians and media personalities to think about how they might approach the same challenges we’ve all previously faced as consultants. The results, to say the least, were somewhere between fantastical and achievable. Give a room full of marketing communications experts an unlimited budget and scope of what’s possible and the ideas come streaming in!
Our recent sessions have shed light on the spectrum of creativity. Why can one idea be deemed creative, and another boring? Why can you get five different creative ideas in response to the same brief? Personally, I’ve never thought of myself as particularly ‘creative’, I’ve always sat on the lower end of the creativity spectrum. I prefer reason and logic to abstract possibilities; and I’m sure I’m not the only one in the industry to think this way.
So, what constitutes a ‘creative idea’?
Pondering these questions and reflecting on some of the brilliant ideas our team has activated in recent months, I realised there’s an overwhelming sense of pressure surrounding the concept of creativity. We’ve distilled the very basic phenomenon of coming up with ideas into checkboxes of good or bad, creative or not creative, bold or boring.
Just because an idea doesn’t land on the front page of the most widely-read media outlet and blow the budget, doesn’t mean it’s not creative. That goes for both B2C and B2B brands alike.
“Having worked in B2B comms for most of my career, I’m always trying to come up with new ideas to reframe common business challenges and explain technical topics,” said Jenny Morris, Account Director, Clarity. “There's a misguided perception, however, that B2B PR is less creative than its B2C counterpart. We really need to challenge that thinking, and a good starting point is giving people the tools to become their most creative selves — regardless of whether they work in B2B or B2C.”
As an industry, we need the naturally gifted creative thinkers - sure. But the perception that the communications industry isn’t for you if you can’t think creatively enough needs rethinking. Because at the end of the day, a truly impactful, well resonating creative idea needs the power of someone whose imagination stretches beyond the brief, as well as someone who can bring it back to earth, questioning its practicality and applicability to the brief.
So next time you’re tasked with dissecting a brief and presenting a range of creative ideas back to a client, remember that creativity doesn’t mean the biggest, boldest idea in the room. It can be a simple concept that nails the overarching goal of the campaign in a subtle way. Let’s take the pressure off ‘thinking big’.
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