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Why Creativity Matters More Than Ever

by Keh-hui Ng, on 9 July, 2020

Creativity /ˌkriːeɪˈtɪvɪti/
Noun: the use of imagination or original ideas to create something; inventiveness.

Since the pandemic first broke, we have seen creativity sprout up in some the most unexpected and joyful ways. On my LinkedIn and Facebook feeds, I have seen friends, colleagues and old acquaintances take on new or forgotten hobbies like crocheting, cooking, staining glass, costume making, street art and poetry. It seems that many of them (and their children) have hidden or undernourished talents.

I have found myself leaning on skill sets during the pandemic that I learned during my years as a Creative Director. As an Agency Creative, there are three certainties when you turn up to work each day:

  • There will not be enough time in the day to fulfil the briefs you are working on, so best move quick. Like really quick.
  • There will probably not be enough budget to realise the full potential of said brief, so get creative. Not just in terms of the words and visuals but also in terms of the delivery. How will you get the most bang for your buck without compromising the idea?
  • And finally, the client probably won’t like the first ideas you present, no matter how good they are. So be ready to toss them out and start from scratch with the above limitations, more than likely multiple times.

As a Creative Director, a core survival skill in the role is the ability to harness the discipline of re-imagining and solving the problem-space again and again and again. I have found this ability to be particularly useful during the pandemic – It is so important to be able to throw out everything you knew to be true yesterday to deal with today’s new challenges. When living in unprecedented times, being able to operate without hanging onto your old ways is paramount to survival.

One example of this that I found particularly inspiring was James Dyson’s £20 million investment of personal funds towards turning his vacuum and air distribution technology into respirators that could be used by intensive care units. For any of you who have ever owned a Dyson vacuum cleaner, you will realise how efficiently engineered and beautifully designed they are. Now imagine having a respirator designed by Dyson keeping you alive if (heaven forbid) you arrived at an Intensive Care Unit having being diagnosed with COVID19. Although the British Government has since cooled their interest in terms of order quantities with Dyson’s pending product, I believe that such creative thinking in an extremely fluid and fast changing world should be applauded.

And they’re not the only ones… I can only imagine healthcare workers being grateful and pleasantly surprised for the protective clothing supplied to them by Burberry, Dior and Finisterre, to name a few. I found it particularly interesting to note that Inditex (the owners of Zara, who were one of the first big fashion companies to divert their factories output towards protective clothing) announced a loss in June yet saw their share price rise due to an accelerated business pivot to large super stores and online sales. Such fast pivoting in uncertain times take courage which is an inherent by-product of creative thinking. We can already see how the move by Zara to producing protective equipment helped generate some PR and goodwill from their customer base. It also demonstrated to the stock market that the business was agile and able to capture the imagination of the public. When they announced further changes in terms of their sales delivery, the stock market rewarded them. Inditex came across as a company who know what they are doing. It didn’t reek of the desperation evident in some of their high street competitors during the same period of time.

During challenging times, creativity has proven time and time again to be an ingredient which keeps us afloat and allows us to thrive – both for people trying to maintain self-happiness through creative hobbies and for companies who hinge their success on being able to creatively pivot to adjust to the times. Creativity breeds courage, agility and discipline. We should strive to nurture it in our children and our employees – it’s an important skill for survival.


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