Five Creative Rules (to break)
Rule 1 (to break): Create for “Millennials.”
The $200b-spending 18–34 year-old does shape marketplaces, as the Baby Boomer still does. But, don’t let them shape your creative concept. In trying to be au courant, you may fall into an old rut of pigeonholing by demagoguing on demographics. Millennials are, as human beings tend to be, a beautifully messy, mixed bag of, well, humanity. As George Moreira, global digital strategy+planning director at Blast Radius, put it: “…millennials…intuitively understand that brands are not vital, but incidental to what matters in their lives.” Look at the colorful, intertwined strands of “person” between the impersonal data points. Tell your story to the one sitting next to you. Even with all our differences, we humans will listen to a good story. Be vital, not incidental, to what matters in their lives.
Rule 2 (to break): Make it More Human.
One word can matter: make. If you start with the idea of “making” something more human, you’re already down the rabbit hole of making it feel less than human. Instead, try this: Under the universal, solar rays of your Brand Position, draw a straight line from your brand to your customer. Write on that line the words your brand stands for (core values, e.g., truth, trust, purpose, value) — that grow the authenticity of your Brand Position. Then go crazy-smart drawing outside the line to create brand-differentiating experiences to bring those words, your values, to life for them. (You can break customers into personas/market segments, but keep it real and human.)
Rule 3 (to break): Create from a Brand Position.
Close, very close, but not quite complete; creating from your brand position alone would be like Starbucks’s brilliant “The Third Place” position shining its solar rays without the seeds of its brand’s core values. Your greatest creative act will be a differentiating Brand Position. But, back it up, give it muscle and brain, by creating your concepts from core values — and even a stance on an issue that matters to you and your customers.
Rule 4 (to break): Present a Bunch of Options and Let ’em Pick One.
Steve Jobs’ said about the designer he hired, Paul Rand, “I asked him if he would come up with a few options, and he said, ‘No, I will solve your problem for you. And you will pay me.’” (Which he did, and Jobs did.) Ok, so maybe that’s a great story that you can’t or won’t always be able to replicate. Still, the lesson is a good one: break Rule 4 by first looking at those bunch of concepts yourself or with your creative team. Then, pick and present the one that best solves the problem — and reflects your brand position and values.
Rule 5 (to break): Just Do It.
I’m going to take it that you’re a professional who negotiates and meets a deadline. But, you’re building an idea, and ideas don’t always live on a linear timeline. The world and time impact you in a mysterious, unpredictable randomness of ricocheting ideas that come together in one great creative Solution. Hey, you’re the expert at this keeping-it-weird process — — so, be the master of it. And don’t stop at the concept and execution. No handoffs to other depts without you being “in the room” First 3 Marketing Plan Rules (to Break). More good advice from George at Blast Radius: “Get out of the campaign mindset, which can create artificial constraints that stifle creativity….develop a suite of creative ways to earn attention and distribute those engagement tools over an extended period of time. Brands and sustainable business results are built over time.”
Bonus Rule (to break): Don’t Be So Full of Yourself, Move onto
the Next Project Already!
Slow down to refuel back up. You just built a beautiful thing that will serve the many. Absolutely make time to be absolutely full of your…Self. Your “self” is what fed the crazy tenacity to create the concept. Even if you aren’t a fan of The Fountainhead or Ayn Rand, maybe, as a creative being, you’ll find a nugget of truth, trust, purpose and value in Howard Roark’s impassioned case for being Self-ish.
Also published at www.janzlotnick.com