Creativity is sold as an exclusive service that can only be delivered by a special few; those with creative titles in creative industries.

Marc Ashwell
Mar 8 · 2 min read

Design Indaba reminded me that creativity can come from (literally) anywhere. David Droga apologised to the audience for having to listen to a marketing person and I was a little taken back. The arrogance of the marketing and advertising world fell down on me like a ton of well-designed, eco-bricks.

I’ve recently shifted from the advertising agency world to the ‘corporate’ world and I haven’t felt a lack of creativity or imagination, I’ve felt it more.

It doesn't get expressed in ads, design or copy, it is expressed in the desire to fix problems and change people’s lives. Perhaps an even nobler cause.

In the ad industry we refer to the collective of art directors, copywriters and designers as “creatives” and we lump everyone else (including clients and the target market) in a bucket that inhibits creativity. As a strategist I’ve felt that first hand. Only in special cases, in some of the most creative agencies are strategists embraced as part of the creative/ideation process (hat-tip to TBWA).

But, back to creativity outside of the agency space: I have a theory (which is just an opinion) as to why I sense it more in corporate than i have in agencies.

It’s because creativity is the process of solving problems, not the goal.

When creativity is the goal, we lose sight of what we’re trying to solve. It also restricts the work to a select few.

When it’s the process, whether it’s a communication problem or an education problem or even a financial problem as the brief, the process focuses on the best iteration to solve the problem. And often it’s creative. Fresh, insightful, simple solutions.

The world can’t exist without creativity, its part of what makes products and brands distinctive in a world where everyone is samey and lurking behind differentiation and ‘innovation’. So why limit who gets to be creative?

Urgh.

Marc Ashwell

Written by

Marketing Professional. Problem Solver. Not saving lives.

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