Creative thinking

Creative thinking adds value to your business by finding new ways to solve consumer needs. It helps you stand out from competitors and drives all parts of your customer experience and brand activation. Building creative thinking skills in your business needs a focus on culture and process, and an end goal of creating new ideas to drive brand growth with your target audience. 

Creative thinking

How this guide raises your game.

1. Understand why and how creative thinking grows your business. 

2. How to encourage, enable and execute creative thinking.

3. Learn more about idea generation, screening and testing.

The core purpose of marketing is to understand consumer needs, and meet them better than your competitors.

Market research helps you work out what consumer needs are. But, you need creative thinking to work out how to solve those needs better than competitors. 

From a marketing point of view, creative thinking is the way to generate new ideas on how to solve consumer needs.

But it’s also about how to identify which of those ideas have the best chances of success. And how and where to apply those ideas to the customer experience and brand activation.

In this guide, we cover the role creative thinking should play in your business. How does it help drive the success of your business? And how do you set up your business to encourage, enable and execute great creative thinking? 

Post it on wall with light bulb illustration to highlight creative problem solving

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Why creative thinking matters for your business

From a business point of view, creative thinking bring three key benefits. You can think of these as the 3-D benefits of creative thinking.

Firstly, theres’s how you use it to differentiate your brand identity from your competitors.

Then, how you use it to drive the customer experience.

And finally, how creative thinking then leads you to develop brand activation and assets. 

Creative thinking - 3D benefits

Differentiation of brand identity

Differentiation is an important part of your brand’s positioning that you develop as part of the segmentation, targeting and positioning process.

The benefit you deliver to the target audience, backed up by your reason why and reason to believe creates a point of difference that makes you stand out from your competitors. You can’t by definition, have a point of difference that’s the same as your competitors. 

Creative thinking helps you identify ideas that bring out and demonstrate this point of difference. It’s an essential part of your overall brand identity. 

3 steps of the process - Segmentation - divide the total marketing, targeting - pick the most attractive, positioning - build your brand

Whether you’ve identified your brand as the biggest, fastest, tastiest or coolest brand, you need creative thinking to bring this point of difference to life. Creative thinking helps you persuade and influence your customers to choose your brand over competitors. 

Creative thinking also helps you to be the first to do something new. This gives you a strong competitive advantage by being the “first mover”. Consumers are more likely to remember brands that did something new first, rather than those who followed. 

In this case creative thinking covers both how you deliver on that point of difference though ideas, and what it actually looks like through your brand activation. 

Drive the customer experience

Of course, the target audience never actually sees your documented brand identity. They never see your brand wheel or brand diamond.

They only see the brand identity in terms of how it’s brought to life at the different touchpoints of the customer experience journey. These are the points where they interact with the brand.

From the brand point of view, these are usually the key parts of the marketing mix like the product, the price, the place and the promotion. 

Customer Experience Journey Map

The consumer experiences your brand identity though the outputs of the marketing mix.

So, they see it in your advertising, on your website and in sales promotions for example. But you need to apply creative thinking to each of these areas to plan what you will say and do, to bring the brand identity to life. You need to apply creative thinking to make sure what you say and do is relevant to the target audience and stands out from competitors.

Creative thinking helps you solve consumer needs and problems in new ways. And solving consumer needs and problems is what drives sales and grows your business. 

Develop brand assets

And finally creative thinking has to convert into creative action. If creative thinking never makes if from inside your head, or from a workshop post-it to an actual tangible “thing” that the consumer can see, hear, smell, taste or touch, then it has no impact. 

Creative thinking is the start point of all brand asset creation including writing, graphic design, photography and video content. It’s applied through each of these process to improve the novelty, distinctiveness and impact of each of those creative brand assets. 

It comes through in key brand activation activity like your advertising, website, packaging and sales promotions.  

How to encourage, enable and execute creative thinking

Creative thinking can be a challenge in many businesses. 

While most businesses like the “idea” of creative thinking, the “practise” is in reality much tougher.

Most business activities focus on routines and efficiencies. The important day to day processes like operations, supply chain and finance rely on predictability and certainty to drive efficiencies. 

Creative thinking is the opposite of most of that. 

Creative thinking means disrupting and inventing new routines, not sticking to the existing ones. It’s not driven by efficiency, but by effectiveness.

There’s not a direct relation between the time and effort you put in to creative thinking, and what you get out of it. In fact, often you have to discard many of the ideas you generate through creative thinking. This feels inefficient and wasteful to many people. 

 

Creative thinking Idea generation

Creative thinking lacks predictability and certainty. To be great at creative thinking, you need to take some risks and accept that there will be failures as well as successes. This can be confronting for many people.

What creative thinking adds to your business

Creative thinking doesn’t replace routine and efficiencies, but it drops in as harmonious counter-point to those sorts of activities. Like the yang to business efficiency’s yin.

It makes businesses more rounded in their approach when they can do both. 

And in fact, they are not always mutually exclusive opposites. When you can apply creative thinking to operational efficiency problems, you can find ways to be more efficient. To do things better. 

Creative thinking - operational efficiency

And when you can apply efficiency to how you do creative thinking, then you reduce some of the chaotic nature of creative thinking. You can apply efficient ways of working to make it a more ingrained and repeatable process in your business. 

To encourage, enable and execute creative thinking in your business, there’s three areas you need to consider. 

Firstly, you need to build the right culture. This helps people see creative thinking as a positive part of your business.  You need a clear way to generate, screen and test ideas so that you have a steady pipeline of creative thinking feeding into your business. And finally, you need to connect the creative thinking to other processes in your business, so that it drives your brand identity and customer experience.

Creative Culture

The culture of your business is in simple terms how things get done. 

In actual fact, it’s a complex mix of what it looks and feels like in your business. 

It’s the values, routines and habits that happen, that makes your business what it is. You can’t really touch it, but you know it’s there.

And you know when it’s working and when it’s not. 

Creative header image

Company culture is a big topic in its own right. So for this guide, we’re only going to focus on where to apply it to improve creative thinking in your business.

We’ve grouped these cultural factors into three areas. Firstly, people. In particular how you organise people, and reward and motivate them to be creative. Then leadership. And how leaders in the business need to drive behaviours, standards and processes that make creative thinking easier. And lastly, environment. The more physical and tangible elements that you can use to bring creative thinking to life.

People, organisation and rewards

When some people hear the word “creative”, they automatically think of people who are artistic. People who are good at creative skills like writing or photography. If they can’t do these skills, they think they are “not creative”. But in actual fact, we ARE all creative, just in different ways. 

It’s not helped by the fact that marketing agencies have specific “creative” teams who provide those skills. And it’s easy to think then, that creativity is something only specialist people do. And as we cover in our article on creative evaluation, this can often lead to challenging and frustrating meetings. 

But here’s the thing. 

To be good at those creative skills like writing, graphic design and photography does take learning, practice and skills that not everyone has. But creative thinking happens before any of those skills come into play. And it’s something that anyone and everyone can do.

 

In fact, we’d go further and say, it’s something that everyone in your business should do. If you look at the most successful creative-led businesses like Pixar as we did in our article on Business Writing, they encourage creative thinking to come from ALL parts of the business.

When you have teams of people with wide and diverse ranges of experience and styles, you broaden the potential scope and range of your business thinking.

Ideally, you want to hire and encourage people and teams who are open-minded and curious. If everybody thinks and acts in the same way, you limit the potential of your creative thinking.

Woody from Toy Story - how Pixar protects new ideas in early stages of creative thinking

That means you need to avoid or try and screen out people who are the opposite. Nothing kills creative thinking faster than people who are set in their ways, and who don’t listen to alternative views.

To create great ideas, it’s usually an on-going and iterative process. You need to challenge, build and refine your own and other people’s ideas.

Kirton Adaptive Innovation model styles

In some of the businesses we’ve worked with we’ve seen the Kirton Adaptive Innovation (KAI) model work really well to drive creative thinking. It’s based on a questionnaire, where you answer around 20 questions about your preferred “innovation” working style. The way you answer these questions gives you a “score” that predicts how you like to work from an innovation or creative thinking point of view. 

We’ve found this model works really well, as it states right at the start that everyone is creative, They are just creative in different ways. 

Adaptors

The innovation spectrum has two extremes and most people sit somewhere between the two extremes. At one extreme, are “adaptors”, whose preferred creative thinking style is to make things better. 

Adaptors like to look at continuous improvement of existing models. They are able to drive a large number of small, but incremental improvements. This approach to creative thinking is sometimes called the “Volkswagen approach”. 

Innovators / Disruptors

At the other end of the spectrum, are the “innovators”. This is a slightly confusing title, and it would probably make more sense to call this group, the ‘disruptors’.

This type of creative thinker focusses on how to do things differently. They have little time for existing models. They look to find “one big idea”.

And this “big idea” will be a break-through and game changing innovation. This type of approach is sometimes called the “Apple approach”.

But here’s the thing about the model we like most.

Apple MacBook laptop on a white desk

It’s that in the world of creative thinking, you need both creative thinking styles. It’s not either / or, but both. Because each type of creative thinker brings both positives and negatives to the creative thinking game.

Though small, incremental changes might not sound as exciting, they can drive sustained growth. They bring steady improvements over a long period of time. They may provide less “big successes”, but they provide a regular and stable stream of growth opportunities.

The innovative disrupters, on the other hand, may produce more exciting “big bang” innovations. But they also are more likely to produce disastrous “big failures” too. They generate more ideas. But the often don’t follow through on them. They have less ability to focus and implement. They can often move on to the next big idea, before they’ve completed the last one.

So, while you do need them in your business, you also need the balance of adaptive thinkers too. 

Team set-up

Team set-up varies from business to business. You may have fixed teams who work on on-going parts of the business. Or you may have more flexible teams who come together on specific projects. Either way, it’s important to think about how that team will work together. 

It’s good to have a mix of the different Kirton styles we covered above. But also think about other team styles tools like the Myers-Briggs personality styles tool. Think about different team role tools like Belbin for example, when you put creative thinking teams together. 

Myers-Briggs (and also Insights) is a personality questionnaire based on psychological principles from Carl Jung. It covers areas like whether people are more extrovert or introvert. And whether they are more thought or feeling driven. 

You want to try and find a balance of different styles so that overall, the team is more diverse. The leader, as we’ll come on to, needs to also consider how to best manage the different styles in the team.

Belbin is another working style type questionnaire, but which focusses more on how individuals like to work in teams. So, some people’s preference is to generate lots of ideas (called plants) for example. Others prefer to evaluate and analyse the ideas of others (called monitor evaluators). There are nine different roles in total.

It’s a great tool to help find the right team mix. And this can help improve the range and quality of creative thinking. 

Rewards and motivation

Finally, when it comes to people and teams to drive creative thinking, it’s also important to consider how you reward and motivate people to think creatively.

Most business reward their staff based on performance against a set of KPIs which usually relate to specific tasks or functions. 

So, in order to hit these performance rewards, people naturally tend to favour tasks or functions that they know are achievable. They focus on tasks and functions they are likely to hit.

A pile of coins to signify commercial related topics

But this leads to people avoid projects that might have a higher risks. So creative thinking ends up only focussed on safer, more predictable solutions. This is not helpful.

So, as part of your creative thinking culture, you should also consider how to incentivise or motivate people to take more calculated risks when it comes to creative thinking. It’s a big part of being a leader of a creative-led culture to recognise, reward and motivate people to push the boundaries on creative thinking.

This could be as simple as rewards or bonuses for any ideas which add to the company sales or profitability. But it’s often worth asking people and teams directly what they’d want or need to be more inspired to do creative thinking. It’s not always financial rewards. Recognition and new learning opportunities can also be motivating.

Leadership, standards and processes

Whether creative thinking “works” or not in a business often comes down the leadership team. It’s important they are clear on the direction they set.

If the leadership team truly recognises the value of creative thinking, and acts in a way that supports it, it’s far more likely that the business will deliver great creative thinking. 

This can cover areas like approvals. The leadership team should set out clearly how ideas progress in the business. They need to make clear who can make decisions on new ideas. What are the criteria that drive decision-making? It’s important to establish transparency. It’s also important to anticipate that there will be disputes and conflicts.

Conflict is actually a good thing when it comes to creative thinking, as long as it is constructive. Better ideas come from challenge and build sessions as people try to refine and improve on existing ideas. 

It’s important for leaders to think about team make-up and team ways of working. It’s been said that a great team can always fix a bad idea, but a bad team will kill a great idea.  

So, for example, if the team skews towards the adaptive side, it’s important to recognise that there’s value in this. But that these teams shouldn’t be afraid to push the boundaries further sometimes. 

And vice versa, if the team skews towards the disruptive side, it’s important to remind them that smaller, more incremental, safer ideas can also still add value. 

Standards and processes

Leaders should consider when, where and how creative thinking ideas move though the business. How and where is feedback given for example? And how do leaders expect the feedback to be used.

There’s a great example from Pixar, that we cover in our article on business writing where they set up a “Brains Trust” to review new ideas. This is a small group of highly experienced and expert professionals in the business, who’ve been through the creative process many times before. They give constructive feedback at early stages of the idea. But importantly, they have no power of veto or authority over the idea.

This is quite different from most businesses. Often, approvals are done by formal committees who come together at “stage” or “hurdle” meetings. And ideas don’t move forward unless they’ve hit certain criteria. The aim of these meetings is often to prevent ideas moving forward rather than focussing on how to make them better. 

As we’ll cover in our section on Idea Screening, not every creative thinking idea should make it to launch. But it’s important to consider how and where ideas do get killed off. It can be very demotivating for teams who have spent time and effort to come up with an idea to have it hit internal approval barriers. 

It’s important to have clear standards of what “good” creative thinking looks like. And to have the right leaders involved in the process who can keep their eye on the end goal. And the end goal is to build connections with the target audience and amplify the impact of the marketing plan and brand activation. 

70-20-10 creative thinking and innovation investment

In some businesses, we’ve seen this translate into a 70-20-10 rule in terms of which type of creative thinking ideas they will support.

So 70% of spend goes on “safe” innovations with more immediate returns.

20% goes on more mid-term innovations that have a higher level of risk and reward.

And, 10% is saved for the most long-term and disruptive innovations that will either boldly succeed or boldly fail. 

 

Burning money

The aim of the leadership team should not be to prevent risks, but to make it safe to take them. They should consider how to put diverse teams together from different parts of the business that will drive more innovative creative thinking. These teams should have common and interdependent goals around solving customer needs.

There should be some rules, so that the process is not chaotic. But not so many rules that the teams feel too constricted. In fact, constrained thinking where you rule out certain creative thinking directions can often lead to more creative and less obvious solutions.

Environment and atmosphere 

The final cultural area to consider for creative thinking relates to where and when creative thinking happens.

Consider whether your workspace is suited to creative thinking. If you are putting teams together, can they collaborate easily?

If they need to run a workshop, is there a space that will help creative thinking?

Creative thinking areas need to make sure teams can’t be disturbed (or disturb others). And the ambiance of the room needs to encourage creative thinking. 

Open spaces, more informal seating and access to whiteboards, flip charts, marker pens for example can all help with creative thinking, when teams come together. 

But what about those less formal times when idea come together?

The nature of creative thinking means it can’t always be scheduled, as ideas can come at any time. Google for example famously allows its teams to spend a day a week working on their own innovation projects and trusts its teams to do the other work as needed. This can be very motivating and inspiring to run with new ideas.

Colourful umbrellas

In actual fact, this is one area where small start ups have an advantage over bigger players. Bigger organisations tend to have more formal processes, meetings and work spaces. These can go against creative thinking. There can be a perception that creative thinking sessions are not “real” work. 

In smaller businesses, with less rules, less structure, it can be easier to set up a more creative environment and encourage a culture of experimentation. 

Creative hotspot

Can you for example develop a creative hotspot in your office where people can come together for creative thinking? What about an ideas wall? Or regular stand-up informal updates on new ideas and what’s going on around the business in terms of creative thinking?

Think about things like the colours in your premises. Do they encourage people to think creatively? What about music? Music can affect moods, feelings and emotions and helps people relax or gain energy. This can be built in to your creative thinking processes. 

If your premises can’t support this, consider the use of off-site locations. In fact, off-site locations work well in many situations. The change of scene puts people in a different creative thinking frame of mind. 

You should encourage teams to ‘get out more’.

Often when the brain gets stuck trying to solve a problem, a simple change of scene can help. Go for a walk or a run, visit a new coffee shop or sit in a different part of the office.

This can often help jolt the brain in to new ways of thinking.

Finally, consider how best to use technology when it comes to creative thinking. How will you capture ideas, store them and evaluate them?

In workshops, it’s common to avoid the use of technology as screens can get in the way of interactions between people. But at other parts of the creative thinking process, technology helps with researching ideas and sharing them. 

People in coffee shop from above - a great way to keep in touch with your target audience

If you have an intranet for example, should you have an area that supports and captures creative thinking? Can you make notebook apps available to the team and encourage them to keep a creative thinking journal or ideas list?

Ideas

While culture is what creates the space for creative thinking to happen, it’s ideas that are the lifeblood of creative thinking. But coming up with ideas is not always a straightforward or simple process, so how and where do you start? 

We recommend the first step you take is to clearly define the problem which needs to be solved. If it’s a business issue related to a consumer need, it’s worth setting out the problem as a question to be answered.

You should try to frame this problem / question in a positive way and it’s worth starting the question with “How to …”

Man holding lightbulb to symbolise new ideas and brand introduction

So “How to persuade more customers in (customer group) to try more (your product)?” is a good problem definition. Or “How to switch (customer group) from choosing (competitor) to (your product)?” 

It is also worth making sure you are clear on what the real problem is. Not “losing sales” but “convincing customers of the need for (benefit)” for example.

The technique of interrogating a problem with the word “Why” to diagnose underlying problems is often used at this stage. This is where you interrogate a problem by asking the word “why” at least five times until you get to the root cause of the problem.

We’ve covered this specific creative thinking approach in another article.

Get more playful

It’s often said that we lose our creativity as we get older. Our minds become more fixed and closed as we enter adulthood.

Many creative experts suggest looking back to childhood and the world of play as a great place to be more inspired when it comes to creativity.

A lot of common creative techniques originate from the world of childhood behaviour. This includes the previously mentioned 5 Why’s technique.

 

Young child squeezing a blue paint tube to show colour is learned early and why it matters for colour in marketing

But there are many other similar techniques that can help you get in a more creative mood. Creativity is often driven by curiosity and a lack of knowledge of what the answer is. So asking ‘naive’ questions or thinking through the problem from the point of view of someone who knows nothing about the subject can often lead you to new solutions.

Example – write a future headline

As an example, one brand we worked with was trying to set out its 5 year brand vision.

That’s actually quite challenging to articulate or even imagine. So we set them the task of writing the vision in the form of a future headline. We asked them to mimic the style of various newspapers, magazines and online sites.

So what would a tabloid writer say about your brand in five years time? What would a sports journalist write? What would the press manager of your biggest customer write in their in-house magazine?

When you take away the existing pre-conceptions of what the brand is and see it from a very different perspective you help to build a creative thinking mentality.

Knowledge and data is good, but don’t drown in it

Obviously, the more you know about consumers, competitors and the category, the more likely you are to avoid wrong answers.

But there is a point where you can get “stuck” by having too much data. This analysis paralysis can kill creative thinking. It can create too many options and drown people in presentations and spreadsheets.

Before you start to generate ideas, it’s important to identity what are the key bits of knowledge and data that’ll help. 

And which won’t. 

Newspaper on fire

Aim to be concise. If there are ideas which definitely won’t work for legal or other reasons, make sure this is clear. If some ideas have been tried before and failed, share these. But focus on key lessons learned from these experiences. Don’t dwell too much on the details. 

The creative thinking process

There are many books you can read on creativity and creative thinking. Probably the most well-known is Edward de Bono’s book on Lateral Thinking*. In this he outlines four types of creative thinking tools. Firstly, idea-generating tools to break current thinking patterns. Then focus tools to review the idea search area. Next harvest tools to create more value from ideas. And finally, treatment tools to build in real-world constraints.

In reality, most businesses operate this as a three-step process.

For example in our our marketing innovation guide, we share examples of how this overall process works to launch new products and services. But from a creative thinking point of view, it’s the first three steps which require the most creative thinking. 

The first step is an idea generation or ideation session to get the most number of potential ideas out. 

The second step is then an idea screening. This is a refinement process to get to the one or more ideas which have the greatest chance of success. 

Marketing innovation process - formal approach to screening and approval

At this stage, there is often the start of a business case, which secures the resources to move the idea into test and refinement.

You would use market research to put the ideas in front of consumers, gather feedback and work on making the idea stronger, more relevant and more impactful.

Step 1 – Idea generation

Most people would recognise this as ‘brainstorming’. A group of people come together to generate multiple ideas of how to solve a problem.

The terms brainstorming dates back to 1942 when advertising executive Alex F. Osborn first coined the term.

There are many ways to run brainstorming sessions.

We recommend you identify someone as the role of facilitator to own the process of running such a session. Make it clear their role is to manage the process.

Creative thinking - person holding black marker about to write an idea

Their purpose is to make sure everyone gets an opportunity to participate and that the process is followed and the required outcomes delivered. 

Example idea generation activities

When you have articulated the problem, some examples of how you could generate multiple ideas from different perspectives include

  • How would “x” do it? Where “X” might be a celebrity, a politician, a competitor, an alien, a member of your family and so on. It doesn’t really matter who the “x” is too much. But for example, how would “Donald Trump” sell more dog food? Or how would “your grandmother” attract more visitors to your cafe for example? This can generate new and outside the box thinking.
  • Pictures and word associations – Often, people can articulate ideas with visuals better than they can with words. So another option is to ask brainstorming participants to take images out of magazines or from websites. Then ask them to use these to make a collage or mood board to come up with a different solution. Or you can pick say five random words – zoo, dog, disco, shirt, glasses – and ask teams to give an answer to the problem by telling a story that has to use those words.
  • Use opposites – Let’s say your creative challenge is how to attract customers to a new store opening. Rather than come up with ideas straight away, you could tackle the problem from the opposite point of view. Say ‘what if we wanted to keep people away’? This might spark different ideas about what you could do to solve the original actual problem of building appeal for the opening. 
  • Vary the attributes – Depending on the product or service, you could also look at the adjectives that describe the product and see if the lens on the problem changes if you play around with them. What if it was bigger or smaller? What if it was faster or slower? How about if we made it men-only or women-only?

Quantity counts

These are only a few examples, we use many others when we facilitate creative thinking workshops. 

The important point is at this stage is to aim for quantity of ideas. You want to generate a large number of ideas, so that you can filter them later. There is no judgement or screening at this point. 

At this stage, there are no bad ideas. In fact the more ridiculous or outrageous the better. The idea is that when you generate more ideas, you spark ideas in others.

When one of your idea generation methods starts to run out of steam, take a quick break. And then come back and use another method. 

It can be a tiring process for those involved to come up with many new ideas, so make sure to manage time and energy levels. 

Keep reminding those involved, that somewhere among all those ideas, there will be a winning idea.

Workshop post its generic contents

Step 2 – Idea screening

The next stage then is to screen or filter out the ideas.

Look for common themes that come out. 

Start to group ideas that sound similar together. Ask the team who came up with the ideas to do a preliminary vote on which ideas sound most exciting or engaging to them.

Each idea then needs to go through a refinement process where you either discard it, merge it into another idea to create a bigger idea or polish it, to take it forward for testing. 

Which criteria you use to screen ideas to take forward will depend on your business and your appetite for risk. If you lean to the more innovative side of the spectrum, you may prefer to take more ideas forward to consumers and be happy to have them relatively unpolished. 

But businesses who prefer a more adaptive approach might apply stricter criteria such as we can see in our example from the marketing innovation guide.

Here, the idea needs to be built up and refined before it moves forward. It’s usually the responsibility of the idea originator or team leader to complete this sort of information. But teams and experts in the business can be pulled in to help. 

Idea generation to idea screening template

Step 3 – Idea testing and refinement

Depending on the nature of the creative thinking idea, and especially whether it needs resources like budgets, people or time, the idea might then need to create a business case. This is especially true if the innovation and creative thinking process is quite formal.

You can read more about what goes into a formal innovation business case in our guide to marketing innovation. But for the purposes of this guide, we wanted to cover a few alternative things that might happen at this point. 

Prototypes

If the idea is relatively small, and resource has already been set aside to work on “creative thinking”, it may be that the team then develops a prototype to test. This is very common in teams who follow the agile process. Small team create mock-ups or very basic versions of the idea and test these with consumers.  

This broadly falls within the scope of market research. It’s likely to be a qualitative style approach to generate first impressions and get feedback. Quantitative research may come later. But this usually requires more budget and therefore a business case. 

Live tests and A/B tests

If the idea is more related to advertising or customer experience, there are opportunities to test out the idea “live”. Digital media channels for example let you select very specific audiences. So, you might choose to put an advertising creative idea in front of a small number of people in a specific location. Websites can let you run what are called A/B tests. Here you show different pages to different groups at the same time, and compare and contrast how the pages perform.  

It’s important to consider how to build in feedback from consumers. It may not always be valid or relevant. You have to question how consumers will respond to the idea if you take it all the way to launch. If test audiences don’t like it, it can be hard to let go of ideas. But ultimately, it’s your target audience who will decide if your idea is any good or not. So, if something just isn’t working, either fix it or let it go. 

You are obviously looking for that one winning idea which is going to rock your target audience’s world. But you may have to work through many other ideas to find that one.

Creative thinking to action processes

For those ideas that “make it”, it’s then where creative thinking becomes creative action and brand activation. Consumers need to experience the outcomes of what all that creative thinking has generated. Otherwise it’s all fluffy nonsense. 

This is where the more practical elements of creativity come in. When your creative thinking is related to communications for example, then your creative idea links into creative skills like writing, graphic design, photography and video content. 

But these also then feed into all aspects of your brand activation. So, what your logo and packaging looks like for example depends on creative thinking. Your advertising and media approach depends on creative thinking. The outcomes of creative thinking support all parts of your customer experience like your website, your social media and your blogs for example. 

Creative thinking summary

Creative thinking is a way to differentiate yourself from competitors by coming up with new and valuable ideas.

It is a way to drive the customer experience by coming up with new and better ways to meet customer needs.

And it’s a large part of your brand identity. Creative thinking is how you start to develop all your tangible brand assets.

But it can be a challenge. Great ideas transform businesses. And nobody wants to be transformed. Often the better idea, the harder the sell.

Post it on wall with light bulb illustration to highlight creative problem solving

It’s important to create culture and processes that lead to ideas and great creative thinking. This needs you to consider many areas like people, teams and how you set them up. It needs you to consider how you yourself drive creative thinking and set up in your business.

The great advantage you have is that most businesses tend to be conservative and resistant to change. So, the more you can get creative thinking in to your business, the more of a competitive advantage you will have.

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Three-brains and creative skill development

We believe the best marketing and e-commerce activation pulls knowledge from many areas of the creative world. But most marketers or e-Commerce managers don’t get trained in creative skills. So there’s a huge opportunity to raise your game by increasing your knowledge of key creative skills from creative thinking and brand storytelling to creative activation skills.   

If you want to raise your creative game through creative skills development, contact us or read more about our coaching and consulting services.

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