6 ways to improve the creative process

Speed is all around us – the thrill of a fast car, a plane’s takeoff, racing a motorcycle along the coast, and the velocity at which advertising and media are changing.

This fast-paced evolution keeps us interested and always wondering about what’s next. Every day there are new platforms, companies, and opportunities to create connections between brands and consumers.

Social media, mobile, digital, media buying, search, and even PR – all of these fields have dramatically evolved and changed how agencies and brands connect with their consumers.

Plus, we can’t forget the speed of data – no longer must we wait weeks or even months to get rating numbers or the results of our direct mail campaign. Now we can collect massive amounts of consumer level data in real-time.

This enables us to react much faster, moving more quickly from insights to action. It allows us to be more innovative and responsive in our message testing and optimization.

While many practices and specialties have started to take advantage of this fast moving data-driven world we live in, I believe there is a huge opportunity to improve the creative process. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not broken – it’s probably the one area that performs consistently well through every phase of innovation.

But given the evolution in media, technology, and the changes in our consumers’ habits and preferences, I believe there are some opportunities to dramatically improve the creative process by using this new agility.

Dynamic storytelling

Creative teams were historically limited to a set number of visual and audial canvases – out-of-home print, TV, and radio. They often had to tell a story within a single ad, perhaps in one medium.

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With today’s ever-expanding media and advanced analytics and targeting capabilities, we have the ability to tell a sequenced story across a variety of platforms. This capability can turn an otherwise simple ad into a continuous multi-platform conversation.

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Creative technologist

Just like media, technology is evolving faster than ever before, creating a growing number of exciting new canvases that are being developed in the Silicon Valleys of the world – mobile, virtual reality, interactive flooring, building projection, and camera tracking among them.

It’s time we use these new canvases to tell our brands’ stories.

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Make data your friend

I can’t count the number of times we had to break up a dispute between our data scientist and creative teams. This fight is not new; between the cocktails and love affairs, Mad Men highlighted the history of the complex relationship between data/research and creative.

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Honestly, I think the rise of the data scientist is one of the best things that could have happened to creative. The amount of data we receive today produces better insights than any client brief ever could. Creatives should partner with, not fight, the data scientists to get those super sharp insights that drive laser-focused creative.

When creatives embrace this change and effectively utilize these insights, we can create amazing campaigns.

Real-time testing

No longer do we need to believe in assumptions or debate what would work best. The convergence of technology and media allows us to easily deploy complex and controlled tests of our concepts and hypotheses in a real-time environment, then measure the results in real-time. This enables us to sell an idea or concept to the client more easily, and helps us verify assumptions quickly.

Team diversity

Many creative teams are too well aligned; the copywriters and art directors are too comfortable with each other and all agree on direction or have the same approach. This does not encourage innovative thinking.

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The team of the future needs to be more diverse. By adding diversity in a variety of ways – age, gender, culture, interests, and so on – agencies will give birth to a whole new set of ideas and fresh thinking.

Involve the consumer

Like it or not, your consumers are directing your messaging. With the rise of social media an user-generated content (UGC), we have the ability to tap into our consumers directly and ask them what they care about.

Make sure that what you are talking about is actually relevant to them. Design experiences that directly target their preferences, needs, desires, and their conversations about your brand.

In conclusion

Though I am not a creative expert (many of you know I’m all about the data), I believe that including some of these opportunities can create a whole new generation of campaigns and activations that address consumers’ passions and desires. They can tell stories on many canvases. More importantly, these campaigns will create meaningful connections between brands and their consumers.

Article and homepage images via Flickr. 

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