But like all ephemeral gifts, creativity is a challenge to harness, especially in the advertising industry where the quest for a unifying big idea is tempered with risk adverse clients and conservative best practice principals that generally err on the side of caution.
However, big ideas that provide Eureka moments for a brand are the most valuable commodity an advertising agency can offer its clients. And as competition for brand awareness and share of voice continues to heat up, major global companies are now tasking their advertising agency to come up with powerfully creative concepts that can anchor marketing campaigns, and project the brand's messaging as a clarion call among the noise of a saturated media landscape.
At the recent World Business forum in Sydney, acclaimed business thinker Professor Hamel discussed how companies need to harness the plethora of creativity if they hope to succeed, as innovation is the only antidote to irrelevance. Yet he believes that only one percent of the companies that exist in the world today have adequately invested in how to innovate.
Creativity and big ideas are at the forefront of innovation, but how does one distinguish between a good idea, and a truly big idea that can act as a driving force behind all the brand's marketing efforts? Can big ideas be developed from an original kernel of thought, or engineered through research and group testing, or should they erupt into the conscious as a spontaneous epiphany?
While hunting down big ideas when riding atop a creative beast should be standard operating practice in a good advertising agency, all too often the marketing machine is left to plod along in mediocrity in response to a conservative communication strategy from the client and unambitious objectives. However, the tried and tested strategies and formulas only add to ever-increasing noise and make it increasingly harder for any new brand to make an impression.
Big ideas have the ability to generate their own momentum, as the message is spread through word of mouth on the strength of its inherent creativity. The biggest and best ideas have the ability to transcend geographical and even cultural boundaries with a core appeal that speaks to universal human aspirations.
Only big original ideas can hope to wipe all the clutter off the consumer's table and capture their undivided attention. A big idea, properly executed, should be disruptive in the sense that shakes the consumer out of apathy and changes their usual pattern of behaviour or perception. Category conventions, paradigms and frames of reference become hard wired into the public's mind, and only creativity gives us the key to motivate a consumer to reassess their own brand associations.
However, successful big ideas can't just be creative for creative sake. Like a spectacular kite drawing gasps of wonder from curious onlookers before it is blown away forever in a gust of wind, the most appealing original idea is worth nothing if it isn't tethered to the brand in a thought provoking way. The underlying message has to be authentic and must strike an emotional chord with the audience while allowing them space to make their own brand association in their mind.