I had a really interesting conversation last week where I was pretty much told that what I am passionate about and do for a living is meaningless and doesn’t make a difference. On the surface I was, I’ll admit, rather taken aback. I needed to take a few moments to compose myself and construct a rational response to disprove this theory. What we did agree on is that if a creative solution isn’t grounded in solid insight and behavioural understanding to ensure its relevance, validity, and resonance, then it is unlikely to stand a chance of affecting maximum positive change. Also that this creative solution shouldn’t be limited to a list of old favourites; a video, logo, PPT, or A5 leave piece, but could be anything that best creatively solves the problem.

There is definitely room to pause here for a second to define what I mean when I talk about being creative. It is not the design or the copy alone, it is how everything that sits behind this is built to inform it, and link to how it is designed and written. To give a brand or product meaning requires an understanding much deeper, coupled with a universal belief and agreement by all parties involved to move in the same direction and act accordingly. I remember one of the hardest projects I ever had to do was when someone asked me to design a promotional leaflet, asking me to ‘make it look pretty’! I didn’t know where to start; who is the audience?, what is the key message?, what do we want them to do?, where are these leaflets going to be handed out or placed?

In order to achieve as much impact as possible, creativity needs to be considered much, much sooner than it usually. It should be integrated from the start to ensure everyone and everything is aligned and so that the ideas that are built off the back of the strategic approach are not rushed, are thought through and are robust enough to do all the initial hard work justice. It seems crazy that all of the upfront thinking is given weeks to build and develop, done in isolation away from the full team, and then when all of this great thinking needs to be developed into an idea and brought to life, the people tasked with doing so are hitting it cold. And they’re often hounded and rushed to execute it.

Creativity doesn’t start with copy and design, it starts with thinking differently, right from the start, about strategic and creative approaches to problems. Changing the antiquated habit of treating creativity as an end product will ensure that the results are more aligned, impactful and will make the differences that was hoped for at the beginning of the project.