Creativity underpins any successful enterprise. But how do you get to you-reka?
Written back in the 1940s , James Webb Young's A Technique for Producing Ideas attempted to address this question and has been a perennial classic for advertising/ communications professionals ever since.
Webb Young demystifies creativity. Rather than seeing it as a metaphysical gift, dependant on muse or divine inspiration, he considers it a simple process. A process which can be learned and practiced. Like tying shoelaces or baking cupcakes.
A refreshingly concise and modest book, it crams its message into under 50 pages and makes for a very valuable half hour read. That's a half hour read, but longer to digest, and much longer to master.
Boiled down to it's basics, Webb Young's 5-step process goes something like this:
Step 1: Gather Information. Get an intimate understanding, not only of your product/ customer, but of the world and life in general. The author argues that "ideas" are simply new combinations of old elements, and that "creative" people are simply able to see relationships between "elements" to create the new ideas. Without spending time gathering information, you will lack the raw material you need to generate ideas.
Step 2: Look at the information you have. Brainstorm your first ideas. Get them out of your system. Most will be weak (at best). The stronger ones will probably be unoriginal. But somewhere in there might be the seed of something great.
Step 3: Step away from the problem. Do something different. Completely different. You may feel you are wasting your time not working on the problem. But you are. At least your subconscious mind is. This is an essential part of the process of original thought.
Step 4: Be prepared for you idea to come. Like a snowstorm in July, it will be when you least expect it. Walking the dog. Stuck at the lights on the North Circular. At 3:00 am when you wake up to use the bathroom.
Step 5: Edit and refine. The stroke of genius you had at 3:00am might not look quite so shiny after your morning coffee. Your big idea may well be a great one but it won't be perfect. Have the humility and dedication to tweak, shape and polish. This is your baby, so be proud of it.
Of course, in the real world of the shrinking deadline, steps 3-5 are often neglected. Which is a shame.
Steps 1-2, if you are very lucky, might generate a good idea.
Steps 3-5 generate the great ideas. Ideas which build factories and empires.
So, if you can, don't settle for good. Make time for great.
At Sunflower, I believe a relevant and dramatic idea should be the beating heart of any marketing campaign.
Please get in touch and let's make your next campaign something special.