How To Unlock Game-Changing Creativity For Your Company
Written by Frankie Margotta
Following a year that was nothing short of unpredictable, it comes as no surprise that the most successful brands to emerge in 2021 are those that have been creative-led. And, although the importance of good creative work certainly predates the pandemic, it’s clear that companies still using their creative assets as little more than ancillary tools risk more than missing opportunities, but falling behind at an unrecoverable pace. The question surrounding creativity for businesses is no longer one of importance, but effectiveness: what makes creativity “good” and why is it that some brands see little to no return on their creative process efforts, whereas a select few are able to use its game-changing properties to transform their greatest obstacles into their most promising opportunities? Well, we thought you’d never ask.
For most companies, creative work is produced asynchronously, in an “a la carte” fashion, and commonly graded on its basic aesthetic design qualities—or the way it looks and sounds. While such attributes are undoubtedly important with respect to a brand’s consumer-facing touchpoints, an isolated focus on aesthetics alone will often lead to superficial results—the kind that is appreciated by academics and critics but won’t actually affect your business’s bottom line. However, the type of creativity that will tip the scales extends beyond a few well-designed visuals and lines of clever messaging; it exists within a thoughtful partnership that fuses a company’s creative assets with its business goals, consumer behaviors, cultural trends, and core beliefs—more commonly referred to as the “creative strategy.” Often brands partner with a branding agency to help with their creative strategy.
Now, it’s important to note that all creativity is innately “strategic;” thought, time, energy are put into all creative works and the nuanced differences that separate them are better suited to be tackled at another time. The brass tacks for this conversation is that context is critical when it comes to devising an effective creative strategy—e.g. the “why and how” you’ve chosen (or choose) to use your creative assets and not the inherent fact that you’ve taken a strategic approach. This strand of creative strategy is more than self-serving; it doesn’t just play a passive role, but an active part in guiding decisions and aligning efforts—the same strand that McKinsey has previously cited to increase company earnings and shareholder returns at practically double their industry’s respective standards.
Considering the fact that the global advertising industry has grown upwards of $600 billion in annual spending, attrition is quickly becoming a doomed approach—even for major brands with healthy marketing budgets. The growing consumer demand for personalization is forcing companies of all sizes to reevaluate how they’re connecting with their customers and partners, as those appearing to be anything less than genuine are continuing to be swiftly rejected. Still, creativity, coupled with a purposeful strategic planning, always has and will continue to provide us with a viable way forward. And, because we understand the process is often long, iterative, and sometimes a bit arduous—we’ve put together a quick list of a few key things you can do right now to make the most of your creative assets:
- Identify your end-goal.
Before committing to creative development in any capacity, take inventory of your company goals, consumer needs, and clearly decide what it is you’re trying to achieve with your efforts. Once you know what that is, or at least have settled on what it’s going to be, determine what success will look like and how you’ll plan to measure it—e.g. website traffic, CTA clicks, conversions, interview responses, etc.
Although gathering key players for another call or meeting might sound like the last thing you want to do, taking the time initially to align these expectations will lead to more fruitful, effective creative work. Not to mention, you’ll also save substantial time and money in the long run because no matter the outcome, not knowing what you did right can be just as big an issue as not knowing what you did wrong.
- Give creativity a permanent seat at the table.
Whether you have your own in-house creative team or are partnering with one outside of your organization, the best results will come from bringing creativity into the fold as early and often as possible. At the very least, ensure that creative representation is present at all major meetings and brainstorms because—as mentioned previously—though your creatives should be able to provide you with assets that are aesthetically stunning, they’ll need to be intimate with the underlying company goals and target audience if they’re to produce work that’s going to be truly effective. Learn more on how to craft creative social media campaigns.
- Avoid segmenting your creative efforts.
Just as important, yet often unaddressed, is the glaring fact that segmenting creativity from the rest of your efforts leaves you unable to leverage the full potential of expertise at your disposal—or more commonly referred to as “shooting yourself in the foot.” Even with a calculated, well-crafted creative brief, you’re still presumably leaving a ton on the table. In short, nothing beats real-time collaboration with your creative team; it not only prevents key details from being overlooked or lost in translation, but earns an expert diagnosis and extra perspective—one that could provide those game-changing insights you’ve been searching for.
Even if you’re fairly confident a particular solution is appropriate, consulting your marketing team creatives is still a worthwhile endeavor. You may learn of alternate approaches that otherwise may not have been considered—probably because you were unaware they existed in the first place. Oh, and here’s another bonus: your creative agency partners will undoubtedly be more fulfilled. They’ll be able to provide higher-caliber work and appreciate the fact that their professional expertise is being genuinely valued and appreciated.
- You can still do a lot—even with a little.
We get it, not everyone has access to a full team of strategists, designers, developers, photographers, videographers, copywriters, researchers, and more—and that’s certainly alright. However, you can still make the most of what you do have by being intentional and resourceful. Do some research on existing trends and current events in your industry, then go beyond the data and engage your consumers—or the people who might be interested in your offer; observe them, talk to them, and try to empathize with their behaviors, wants, and needs. You can then use these insights to create the assets you’ve deemed to be the most critical for your company. Of course, they may not be of the quality that you’d initially hoped for, but they should still be rich in authenticity—a form of currency that’s essential in today’s marketplace.
No matter the size of your organization and regardless of your industry, we encourage you to reinvest in your company’s creative development; unlock its game-changing properties and reap the benefits, because not doing so could ultimately be far more expensive—and catastrophic.
About the Author—
Frankie Margotta is a Creative Strategist and a part of Power Digital Marketing’s in-house creative team. He designs positioning and communication strategies that help companies articulate their value, differentiate their offers, and prevent miscommunications from becoming missed opportunities.