These three sentences shouldn’t make sense in sequence, yet they make a point beautifully. They are creative ideas. Ideas that have fused themselves to popular culture, across generations of consumers.
Creative ideas are priceless. They deliver a bigger return on investment than any insightful data set, analytic or metric ever could. They focus on human insights and connect with consumers using emotion rather than facts.
That said, metrics are not to be ignored. They provide valuable knowledge in any marketing and communications strategy. But as marketers, we need to make sure that at the core of every analytic-riddled strategy document is a simple, human truth. That is the essence of a creative idea.
What makes a creative idea?
There’s a reason that creative ideas are rare. They take hard work to uncover. We say uncover and not create because creative ideas are lying in wait. They present themselves in the most insignificant of moments, but you have to put in the work first. You have to get through the bad ideas (because there’s way more bad ideas than good) and think on a deeper level. A creative idea finds a compelling truth and expresses it in a way that all humans (most importantly, the intended audiences), understand.
A creative idea is complex. It’s one thing and many things. What does that mean? It means a creative idea is single-minded. There is one clear message that is in tune with its audience. And, while its message is singular, the story it tells has many qualities. It’s memorable, believable, emotional, inspirational, familiar and inherently true.
What can a creative idea do for you?
A creative idea does more than just drive sales or raise awareness. It brings you closer to your audience, reframes your brand, pushes your competition aside and can change the course of your company.
In 1983, Apple was facing an uphill battle in the tech industry, losing consistent ground to IBM. That is, until the release of the infamous ‘1984’ TV spot. The spot riveted viewers with never before-seen production value and an unexpected storyline. The commercial revolutionised the way high-tech products were promoted and how they could combat conformity. The TV spot spoke to audiences on an emotional level. Apple was for people who thought differently; the round pegs in the square holes. Apple sales topped $150M in the 100 days following the debut of ‘1984’.
It took vision and bravery to launch that idea. When the agency first presented the idea to Apple, the execs hated it. The agency was undeterred. They ran it and the rest is history.
So, how do you get a creative idea and get it working for you? You must first find an agency who excels at idea-driven work. Then you must trust them, work with them and get prepared to feel uncomfortable. One of the more maddening things of this entire creative-idea-generating process, is that it often produces emotional discomfort. However, it is the emotional discomfort with an idea that often signals its creativity.
What is the downside of not going out on the creative idea limb? The worst of it is that you won’t get noticed by your audiences and that is a tragic waste of marketing dollars.