In a world where differentiation is getting more and more difficult, creativity is becoming more and more important. I mean, it’s always been important, but what I’m seeing out there in the jobs market, as well as the broader market, is a new renaissance in creativity.
IF YOU’RE LOOKING FOR A JOB, CREATIVITY CAN HELP YOU STAND OUT. AND GET THE JOB.
And in the new brand world, creativity can help you stand apart from the million other companies selling me-too products. And get the sale.
For a while there, technology seemed to replace creativity. Everyone was all about SEO and SEM and all sorts of other letters. But once everyone got in on that party, using technology was no longer a way to differentiate. It got democratised and even little people and brands could have cool websites, and use technology to make things better. So where to then? Back to good old creativity and story telling.
Let me be clear, you don’t have to be applying for a job as a creative director or be the next wacky tech brand, for creativity to matter. Even if you’re applying for the most boring job on earth, or you’re selling vanilla widgets, creativity matters if there’s even one other person applying for that job, or one other company selling something that competes with your vanilla widgets.
The good news is, you don’t have to be born with the elusive creative gene, or be some freakishly talented creative gun, to be creative. Anyone can be at least a bit creative, usually quite a bit.
I’ll probably get killed for giving some of these tips, but I’m going to give you a few ideas that will help you be at least a bit creative, assuming you’re not already. Now, please keep in mind, I’m a huge fan of originality and innovation. I’m just not convinced everyone always needs to reinvent the wheel. Sometimes you can borrow a bit of creativity from somewhere else, and use their wheel in your own way.
I’m going to do this from a brand point of view, but with a little bit of thought, you should be able to apply these 3 ideas to just about anything.
- The first thing to remember, is that there are certain questions to ask that can help you come up with your first idea. Things like “Where would this brand work really well?”. “Where would it never work?” “Who would never use it?” “Who is the perfect person to use it – real or otherwise?” There’s a few more thought starters, but you get the idea. They’ll help you get some basic creativity flowing by developing some simple scenarios or ideas that go beyond boring real life.
- Secondly, you can use this thing called the internet to find inspiration. If you’re selling vanilla widgets and you see a good idea from another vanilla widget company, I’d argue that’s completely inappropriate to nick their idea and use it for your own company. But if you spot a good idea being used in a completely different industry, even better if it’s in a completely different country, and find a way to apply it to what you’re doing, I’d argue that’s just really smart. Stretch it, bend it, reshape it to fit your needs, and you’re on your way. Is it a 100% original way to go? No. Is it smart though? Hell yes!
- And finally, just tell great stories. Authentic, compelling, likeable, relevant stories. About who you are. About what you do. About how you do it. And about why people will be better off using choosing you. Whether you’re a job applicant or a brand, a compelling story is key. If you can’t think of compelling story, it’s time to get one. Remember, a compelling story doesn’t have to be logical. It doesn’t have to be based on scientific fact. It just needs to connect.
Strongbow, the alcoholic cider company, based an entire campaign around the theme ‘Hand picked by hand’. Does anyone really care if the fruit that went into their drink was actually hand picked? Probably not. But it does it make what is essentially a mainstream product sound more boutiquey. And is it interesting and likeable? You betchya!
So think about what your story might be. And if you can’t think of one, the problem may not be your creativity or story telling abilities, it may well be your product. It may just be boring in which case it’s time to tweak who you are and what you’re about (that’s a form of creativity too by the way!), then let the story tell itself.
At a time when a zillion people are applying for the same job, and a zillion brands are competing for the same dollar, creativity matters more than ever before. So get creative. And tell great stories.
Sputnik is an internationally awarded creative and brand consultant at Out of this World where he has worked on projects for some of the world’s biggest brands including Disney, Coca Cola, Unilever and The Simpsons. He is the author of 'The Swashbucklers Guide to Becoming an Astronaut' and the creator of the Job Hunter's Boot Camp.