Jun 19, 2023

Checklist for your Creativity

Clodagh O'Brien photo

by Clodagh O'Brien

Posted on Jun 19, 2023

Anyone can be creative. However, it’s important to remember that creative thinking doesn’t happen by accident, and it doesn’t occur in a vacuum.

It’s a skill that needs to be consciously applied, honed and practiced. When practiced successfully, it can reveal effective and innovative solutions to various types of problems, from marketing communications to operational roadblocks, and it can generate new ideas

Our handy list will give you 8 simple but effective ways to get the creative juices flowing and narrow down your ideas so you have something that works and makes sense to your brand (or client’s brand) and your audience. 

1. Put your thoughts down on the page

It can be tough to get motivated about that marketing strategy or campaign brief, but a great way to start is to put some words down on the page. This can get the creative juices flowing to help get good ideas. Try to get 20 ideas down in about 15 minutes. There might be some good ones in there, they'll probably be quite fuzzy or broad but it's useful to have them there so you can come back to them later and make them a tighter fit for the brief. 

2. Have an all-ideas welcome session

This is a session where everything gets written down. no matter how stupid or counterintuitive it is. The goal is to keep an open mind and silence the inner critic. It's important on any brief to have some time to do this - a couple of days would be ideal if the budget allows. 

3. Get some space

Go for a walk, do some meditation, or go for a drink; anything to get away from the brief and open your mind to unexpected influences. Taking time out will allow you to relax the giant muscle that is your brain and open the door to ideas and creativity.

4. Try to keep the brief short

A long brief can seem like a lot of work with loads of information to get through. If possible keep the brief short and to the point because you'll find important key phrases and the crux of the project or campaign. So keep it focused on the important points, the rest can be expanded on later. 

Checklist for your Creativity

5. Condense the idea into one or two sentences

When you have an idea that has potential, write a one or two-line summary of it. That’s not an introduction to it as if you're trying to sell it but just the idea in a nutshell. Also, try and get it into two sentences. If you can do that, then it tells you that you have an idea that’s worth pursuing. 

6. Focus on the end screen

The end screen is the place in an ad with the logo and tagline that converts what you've just seen in a campaign or advert. It aligns the content with the brand itself. Focusing on that end screen is always a good test because it forces you to articulate the relationship between the creative idea and the brand itself and make sure that there is actually a relationship.

7. Do a spidergram

Once you've identified an idea, do a spider diagram. That's where you have the idea in the center and lines coming off it on each of those with a one-line description. For example, one line could be what the TV ad is, another the print ads, the social media ads, etc. Then you'll suddenly see which of those ideas has the most legs and could run multiple campaigns.

8. Do it wrong

What this means is you can have an idea that’s in bad taste or inappropriate which will make people sit up and pay attention. This can be creatively stimulating but also could give good ideas if you think about ‘what’s the worst thing we could do?’ It doesn’t mean you have to do it, but it could spark other ideas that may work. 

We hope these 8 simple tips will help you create marketing campaigns that pop and dazzle. 

Note: This article was adapted from the DMI podcast episode How Ad Creatives Work.

" When you're sitting in front of a brief, it's a bit like arm wrestling and your arm gets really stiff after a while. You don't realize it, but you've lost all mobility in your arm after a couple of hours "
- John McMahon, Creative Director & Copywriter.

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Clodagh O'Brien photo
Clodagh O'Brien

Clodagh O'Brien is a content creator and strategist. Over the last 12 years, she has created and managed content for many SMEs and global brands. She's passionate about digital marketing and the impact of technology on culture and society. You can find her on Twitter or LinkedIn.