It begins with a very straight-forward thought… ‘we need to communicate this in a totally different and more original way than we ever have before’… but it’s from here things can become a little more complicated.
You see the different, the unexpected and the completely original is not the problem. We can all come up with ideas to achieve any one, if not all, of these things, but having put our spectacular, never-before-seen communication into place, what next?
And this is where the challenge truly lies. We begin to consider the risks of failure, the possibility the communication won’t land in the way we originally intended. Our creative thinking begins to falter and, slowly but surely, we eat away at our appetite for originality, losing confidence and leaving our original aspirations in tatters. So, here we are back where we started, only now we have deleted the words “original”, “unexpected” and “different” from our brief. We’ve replaced them with interesting, eye-catching and the obligatory, yet meaningless, words: “wow” and “factor”!
Of course, there is nothing wrong with playing it safe. We had a job to communicate and that job has been done…tick. But more often we’re asking what have we achieved. Was our goal to simply communicate or was it to change people’s thinking and what they do to benefit our organisation through the process of communication? If the latter and it worked, then…BIG TICK!
The fact is: creative originality comes with a level of risk, and to be original is to do something in a way that has not yet been done before and for which there is no set precedent. If to us this sounds somewhat insane, there are of course ways of reducing the risk. However, the positive by-product of greater risk is the exciting and oh-so-tantalising opportunity to achieve a much more effective and memorable outcome.
Never forget that fortune does tend to favour the bold and luck is often on the side of those who take chances and risks. Put another way: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results” – Albert Einstein.
One thing that can significantly help put our minds at rest is experience. Not experience of doing the very original communication we are looking for as, well, it’s never been done before! But experience of delivering something original, the success of which was achieved by the way in which the challenge was confronted. This means there is a level of diligence which can help better predict the outcome. Undoubtedly, it will mean more of your valuable budget being invested in researching, developing and testing the idea. But this will be money well spent when the outcome delivers beyond your wildest aspirations.
The important thing to remember is that when we enter into the world of creative originality, we do so knowing exactly what we are entering into and what is expected of us. Our thinking cannot begin with, ‘we need something different, new and original’ followed by a request for reassurance that goes along the lines of, “so show us something that’s been done before”. Creative originality does not come off the shelf, it has not been recorded on video, and there aren’t any pictures of it. It does not yet exist and won’t until we ask for it.
Put simply, our realistic desire for creativity boils down to our honest approach to risk. We cannot be averse to risk if we want to be brave with our communication. The question we must ask ourselves is: how much of a risk are we prepared to take and how much are we prepared to invest in reducing such risk?
To succeed, we have to believe that our creative originality is the route to our greatest communication accomplishments, but they come without a cast iron guarantee!
Richard Hingley – Group Creative Director at drp.