Last Friday, I attended an advertising conference that featured different speakers who came from well-known agencies across the country. Their resumes boast of years of experience in the various areas of the advertising industry. Throughout the talk, the speakers showed different television commercials (TVCs) that were critically acclaimed and were recognized for their creativity. Not only was I inspired from the commercials that were shown, but I also started wondering what it takes for a great idea to spark into the minds of those who worked and conceptualized these commercials.
As the industry grows competitive by the minute, schools are working double time to ensure that their students are prepared and ready for the work place. As such, our professors repeatedly urge and push us to think critically. When we are given a creative task, we need to make a mental map of our plan, how we go about executing it. It requires critical thinking abilities that we hope to develop and hone as time goes by, as well as abilities, one of which is creativity, which will lead us to the innovative, big idea that we are looking for, or as they call it in the advertising world–the “ah-ha!” moment.
As an advertising student, creativity is a challenge that I meet daily. From pacing around the room to drawing random scribbles, we have different ways of trying to force out ideas. So, how do you force out ideas? How you really become creative? The concept of creativity is that it is a natural process where various ideas come at the right time; therefore it is something that cannot be rushed or forced out. Its process varies among people and the way they engage with it also varies based on one’s personality and work ethics. So, the first step is you need to be observant and be aware of your surroundings. Try to gather insights from seemingly random occurrences. From trying to understand why it happened like that and not the other way around. Trivial things are also source of inspiration by examining, ‘why are they used like that?’ Are there any other uses for these things?
If you do this regularly, it becomes a force of habit and you become critical. Critical, not to the point of trying to find out what is wrong about the action, but more on finding out the consequences if a different course of action is taken. From there, you can pursue your idea and hopefully, it will open your mind to new ideas. Ideas, which at first seem absurd, but will eventually, turn out to be a good idea after all. It also helps a lot if you do some research about the topic; not to copy what has already been done, but to get inspiration and build on their previous work.
Many times we encounter a “block,” wherein we feel that we are not inspired enough to perform a creative task. Do not be discouraged, as this is just a phase. It will soon pass. But do not use this as an excuse to work on the task at the last minute. Some people might think that they feel more creative when they are under pressure. I have worked with different clients with different projects that required experimental, artistic, and expressive conceptualization. One important thing that I have learned is that creative output should never be crammed or rushed. You should allow for as much time as available for the coming up with ideas, polishing the ideas and then eventually the execution of the ideas. Needless to say, if an idea cross your mind, whether you think it is a good one or not, it is a good practice to always jot it down, maybe in your phone. It may not be useful for the task at hand, but maybe, you can use it for the next project.
Creative people are usually the ones that cannot be confined, as they need to be able to think and work freely – which is why innovative companies do not restrict their employees by providing them the environment where they will feel comfortable. One of these companies that are well known for constantly innovating is Google where the rules are “self-reinforced” and yet employees are productive. Advertising agencies are also giving their employees freedom when it comes to working hours, such as not binding them to the usual 9 am to 5 pm work hours.
One thing that we need to fully understand is that creativity is a non-stop process. Great idea only comes at times when we are fully inspired and motivated.