Hira Mohibullah, Executive Creative Director of VMLY&R Kansas City and former BBDO Pakistan ECD, believes creativity isn’t subjective. It’s not some intangible power that creatives tap into. Things you feel in your gut have been processed in your mind. To borrow the term from Benjamin Braun, the CMO of Samsung, who calls it gut knowledge – it’s the ability to take a creative decision based on having a lot of facts and information, but letting your subconscious filter all that data and see through the information.
What are the quantifiable workings of a creative mind? What exactly are these facts and information that a creative person processes, which then leads to this gut feeling?
The idea lies at the helm of the vernacular, the consumer insight and brand vision. In short, strategy is the counterpart of creativity. The best creative work lies within the sweet spot of these three elements.
Mohibullah said: “When you’ve managed to put your finger on the vernacular of a nation, how it speaks, that’s when you’ve hit the pulse of how your target consumer speaks. It keeps you away from how ‘commercials speak’.”
As for consumer insight, it is uncovered through research, personal experience and observation. Finally, there’s the brand vision or the problem your brand wants to solve.
“These are the three things that come together to form the idea,” added Mohibullah.
The second thing: internalize your brand’s voice. Once you’ve achieved this you can begin to sketch the brand’s language in terms of copy and design.
Thirdly, zig when everyone zags. You need to go the other way to avoid becoming a copy of the others. A tip when brainstorming is to spend the first 15 minutes filtering out recurring ideas that a lot of people come up with at the same time.
The fourth point: make consumer research your best friend. You cannot distill a great idea until you know what your consumer’s life looks like or what your consumer is thinking. Social listening, focus groups and observation play a role in knowing who your consumer is, so you can craft messages that speak to them.
Feedback is important. “Sometimes your gut is telling you an idea doesn’t work, there’s something off about it. How do you know that? You hear things about it not being impactful,” said Mohibullah. “The important thing about taking or giving feedback is to be objective. Not subjective. Don’t accept blanket feedback. Always understand what is working and what isn’t working.” Craft the campaign around the final idea.
Let it ferment. When you think you’ve come up with a great idea, go back and look at it again the next day. It’s always wise to check with people you trust on your team. After your initial brainstorm with your team, come back and brainstorm to refine the idea before checking with a manager or someone senior.
Finally, use organizational tools. Contrary to popular belief, creatives can be organized. Things like a whiteboard, mural boards, checklists, creative tools like Miro are a left-brained creative’s best friend.
The pointers given by Mohibullah were in her own words: “a little method to rein in the creative madness.”