If our industry is changing, why hasn't anything changed?

Creative complacency is something that we are all at risk of, especially when the chips are down and we're working at full tilt. As a creative company, how do you push past comfort and become greater than you were the day/week/month/year before?
After all, this is what we do for our clients, but strangely enough we seem to suffer from 'failure to launch' when it comes to ourselves. Read through a couple of blog posts, retweets or opinion pieces (similar to this one) and the message all follows a similar single thought: "The industry is changing" (the 'industry' referring to our broader creative industry, from design - advertising).

If our industry is changing, why hasn't anything changed? Look around; has anything changed that dramatically in the last 5-8 years? Sure the 'woo-hoo' of digital has landed but that doesn't really count. Digital in whatever shape or form you use it is merely a tool. Tools aside, our thinking remains silo'ed and execution-orientated, rather than solution-driven and, most of the time, rather vanilla.

If we can collectively push past this, our clients will benefit enormously, we will share in each other's collective spoils and, ultimately, we will become greater than we were before.

At The Brand Union, we haven't gotten it right yet, but we're working towards it and here are a few of our insights on solving the problem of becoming 'greater than':
  1. Build a culture, not a company. Your biggest assets are your people, so rather than focusing on building a company, shift your gaze to your culture. Your culture will define your company and have a domino effect on your most valuable assets.
  2. Solve problems, not briefs. This is easier said than done, your clients will fight you, internally it might even cause some discomfort and that's all good. Don't fight the friction, use it.
  3. Collaborate. Face it now, you can't do everything. Sure you can sell anything but we've come to realise that working with other creative specialists challenges us, delivers a better solution and saves us all some frustration.
  4. Hire thinkers: Interesting people that are willing to challenge and push past normality are the lifeblood of creativity. They are hard to find, so keep pushing until you find them and maybe even look outside of the industry.
  5. Don't charge for things that don't matter. When you charge for something you add value to it. We don't believe that a beautiful logo will solve a business problem so we've stopped charging for it (where it's not the answer).
'Greater than' will come from adding the right elements to the equation. It's time. The longer we all sit around talking about everything that is changing, the greater the chance that nothing will change.

13 Apr 2012 11:40


About the author

Graham Sweet is a creative strategist and global citizen. His inquisitive mind and sense of adventure have opened up the way for him to work on some of the world's leading brands, visiting many interesting countries and even living in one of them.

Graham's love for design and his Post Graduate in Brand Communications have forged a foundation and appreciation for brand-centered thinking.

Graham is a keen writer and has contributed to 'The Brands & Branding Encyclopedia of Brands' as well as written the odd trend report for Ogilvy New York.

Graham is a social media and blogging enthusiast but far too skeptical to ever use his own name and too many aliases to mention.