“Creativity” is one of the most misused words in marketing.

It tends to be solely applied to the application of visual and verbal ideas to liven up unoriginal or unengaging content. It’s also seen as almost exclusively the preserve of “the creatives” in the marketing department or agency.

Both perceptions are dangerously wrong.

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There’s nothing more wasteful than a piece of communication where the “idea” of the execution is more important and memorable than the service or product being marketed.

Equally, the idea that creativity is something to be applied at the end of the marketing process by the “creative” people is just as misguided. It encourages the sense that making your product or service truly different and compelling is not so important, as the marketing will be able to add that later on.

True creativity is the act of looking at a problem from a unique perspective, driven by the distinct values of the client, leading to more engaging and more effective solutions. This isn’t the preserve of the “creatives”, or even the agency – it has to involve everyone. And it’s best applied early.

If the initial marketing proposition is bland, indistinct or uncompelling, then it’s much harder to make the final result truly effective. It puts far too much weight on developing an original, engaging idea to bolt on to it. This doesn’t mean that the execution shouldn’t be well-done, just that it should be the icing on the cake – not the whole cake.

That’s why we believe the initial brief is so important. Developing a creative proposition, involving both client and agency, is still hard work. But, by putting that effort in at the beginning, everything else becomes simpler and more focused, and the end result more productive.

Next time, type your marketing proposition in one line on a sheet of paper and hold it up to someone. Do they say “Wow – that sounds interesting. Tell me more.”?

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