Often I am asked about creativity and how to come up with ideas beyond the ordinary to make a digital or print communication the most effective it can be. Here are some key elements that will lead you to the wow factor.
Putting yourself in your readers’ shoes and anticipating their needs, expectations and preferences is a building block of creative expression. Knowing them frames the kind of language and presentation best suited to you making friends with your audience. You learn about your audiences by listening to them, analyzing the products and ads aimed at them and reviewing or initiating market research.
Another building block of creativity is understanding precisely why you want to communicate with a particular audience and what you hope to gain from the connection. Determining in advance the purpose of a tweet, brochure, meeting or phone call, and why your audience should pay attention, allows you to focus on the best content and presentation.
Combining unrelated or unexpected elements in new or unusual ways is a hallmark of creativity. Images, words and format strengthen the message, sometimes through humor, irony, zaniness, boldness or complement. The ability to communicate concepts through inventive juxtaposition of images stored in one’s memory is a gift of the imaginative person.
Discipline & Planning
Creativity is not “free.” Devotion to fineness of expression and execution is a guiding principle. Discipline makes creativity possible—skill gained through training, practice, experimentation and risk taking, success and failure. Understanding the conventions and requirements of the medium, careful craftsmanship and steadfast adherence to high standards must be viewed in the context of time. It is only for the rare few that the muse visits on a regular and reliable basis. The allocation of time for the process to evolve is in itself a cornerstone of creativity.
Some forms of creative work are primarily solo operations, and the novelist, the painter and the poet are pretty much on their own. But like the performance arts, producing communications materials to advance institutional goals is an ensemble task. I count collaboration as one of the most important elements of creativity in the work we do. Orchestrating talents and experience of individual members of the in-house team and vendors; anticipating and solving problems in a working partnership; befriending each other— the client and the project—make the process a creative act and the product a creative result.