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notebook with But I'm Not Creative on cover, watercolors and paint brushes

Building Brands Through Creativity

“Oh, I do marketing but I’m not creative. I do the business stuff,” is usually how I explain my job. Easily removing myself from the creative process by virtue of job title and function. It’s easy to say being creative is someone else’s job; the artist, the designer, anyone but me. At AMA-KC’s August Lunch Mandy Levings, from FleishmanHillard, discussed how building a brand through creativity is part of everyone’s job. When interacting with today’s consumers, creativity is more vital than ever. Not only has the attention span dropped significantly, per Cara’s post, but consumers are so inundated with messages to stand out in a crowd you must be creative. At this point in the presentation I was still thinking, “not my problem, I’m not creative.” Then Levings burst my bubble. Being creative is just like running a marathon. You can train for it. Creativity lives in the part of your brain that can learn through repetition.

Since I don’t get a Hall Pass on creativity how can I cultivate that practice? What does creative even mean? It’s important to discern the difference between a piece of creative, a singular element of a larger campaign, such as a direct mail flyer or image, and a creative campaign. A creative campaign is born from consumer insights and transcends channels. According to Levings great ideas not only engage consumers, they also assure investors, attract and retain employees, engage third parties, and spark buzz.

While creativity and originality are somewhat commingled when looking at creative campaigns that perform well there are some trends we can see emerging:

  • Tension
    • Why is it trending? If you read a story or watch a movie and nothing happened, you’d be pretty bored. Good stories have points of contention and a good creative campaign tells a story.
    • Who did it well? Burger King with the Proud Whopper
  • Emotional or Uncomfortable
    • Why is it trending? The best way to connect with a person is through emotion, especially when it makes you question your beliefs.
    • Who did it well? The Gun Shop
  • Year of the Woman
    • Why is it trending? Campaigns around female empowerment tap into a large segment of consumers.
    • Who did it well? Under Armour
  • Does it matter?  
    • Why is it trending? Consumers hear 30,000 marketing messages a day. Make it matter to them in their lives to grab their attention.
    • Who did it well? Lucky Iron Fish

While creative ideas are wonderful, if it doesn’t fit with the brand it will ring inauthentic. The best creative ideas are born within the brand, they are purpose driven, innovative, offer a simple solution or call to action, and are relevant to the target consumers. When FleishmanHillard looks for creativity in ideas they evaluate on six criteria:

  • Change – What are you trying to change?
  • Revolutionary – How is this new or different?
  • Emotional – Does this connect emotionally?
  • Actionable – Does it tell the consumer what to do next, is there a call to action?
  • Too Far – Does this go too far? Edgy is acceptable but within reason
  • Enduring – Campaigns born of good insights are timely and they can also endure

We are all called to be creative in some form or fashion. Not knowing your way around Adobe Illustrator doesn’t mean you are excused from building creative ideas and bringing them to life. Challenge yourself, train your brain to create.

Why do I work at AWG? “I chose to work at AWG because I want other people to love shopping local grocers as much as I do.” -Andrea