Have you ever tried the game of connecting nine dots with four straight lines? The trick is that you have to go outside the box. We often create rules that aren’t even there, or we’re trying to work within a box that has been set by our colleagues. So, the question becomes a matter of “thinking outside the box.” We’ve all heard the phrase, but how do we spark that creative thinking?
Creatively, a brand standards guide can be a double-edged sword. At best, it provides starting points for every piece of creative, ensuring consistency and quality across all your communications. At worst, its rules can stifle originality and leave you or your marketing team feeling like all your communications are mundane and expected.
How can you play by the rules of your brand standards guide while still being original and creative?
Start by taking inventory of exactly which rules are non-negotiable. For a print or digital ad, let’s say, these could be things like the logo lock-up, typefaces, tagline…or even must-include footer information or calls-to-action.
It’s likely that your brand has these necessary (and good!) rules to follow. But while taking a critical look at your standards and even past communications, you’ll begin to see all the spaces where there are a lack of rules. These are the places you can break free creatively and push the limits while still following all your brand standards.
The trick is to push just enough that your creative feels fresh, but not so far that your communication feels “off brand.”
Hot take alert: when you get down to it, originality is a bit of a myth.
That’s because everyone is attempting to create new things with their whole lives and everything they’ve seen and experienced as baggage. Most original ideas are just fragments of old ideas that have been rearranged.
That’s part of why it’s important to keep tabs on your favorite brands, especially if they’re not related to your industry. Watching how the best-of-the-best produce content can spark your creativity and inspire you in new ways. Staying inspired is a critical part of keeping your creative fresh.
The old saying “everywhere I go, there I am” is relevant when you feel like you can’t get out of your own head with fresh ideas for your brand. If you feel like you’re spinning in place, bringing a couple of teammates into the fold is always beneficial. Fresh eyes can reveal a perspective you were previously blind to. Even watching how your colleagues arrive at a specific idea can provide fodder for new paths.
While you’re brainstorming, it’s important to let ALL ideas flow. No self-consciousness allowed! Even if you think your idea is stupid, it might spark something for someone else and further you toward your goal.
Take the weekend and press pause. I always like to let an idea marinate over the weekend to see if I am still excited about it come Monday. While you’re recharging, find new ways to laugh, relax and let your mind wander…because occasionally the perfect thought might hit you when you’re least expecting it.
Now you have some ideas for fueling your creativity. Still stumped? Drop us a line.