Deciding on things in a creative process. 5 things to think about.

creative-bubblesIdeas are like bubbles. They appear and look beautiful. But only to be gone seconds later. Catch them while you can. 

I’m in the middle of building a brand platform for a brand I love. It’s been a long process and I’m only days from delivering the final document. In other words, I’m in the end of a creative process and I have to make the final decisions that will steer this brand in a direction for the coming years if not decades.

When I’m at this stage of a project I’m always pending between knowing exactly what I want and then suddenly not feeling that sure at all about what I want. I call this part the creative chaos. Creative chaos usually occurs in the beginning of a creative project and just before you’re about to present your ideas. However, once you’ve spent your last 15 years delivering creative projects of any kinds you, like me, know that it’s a necessarily part of the process and you even feel good when your’e in the midst of it. After all, you’re soon about to deliver that idea of yours.

The challenge is of course to feel confident that you’re on the right path and that you’re ideas and creations are the way to go. It’s always a huge challenge to create something new. It means you have nothing to lean on except for your own ideas. You will meet tons of people that say things like “That’s not a good idea, I’ve never seen anyone do it like that” or “Wow, I really like it, but have you seen the brand XXXX and how they do it, maybe something more like that?” – Well, this is because you’re an innovator and those other people are copycats.

True creativity lies in taking an idea beyond competition and rely on your own ideas. Of course the ideas should be grounded in some sort of planning process but then you need to take it one step further.

So how do you know what’s right and wrong?

It’s of course something I cannot tell you. But I CAN give you some pointers and ideas on what sticks.

Here’s 5 pieces of advice on how to create things that sticks.

1. Don’t mix up solving problems with creating art.
The single biggest problem I run into when I work with other creatives is that they tend to think true creativity is like art. They focus on self expression and their own problems, not the problem of their client. Whatever you do, always keep the problem you are solving in mind.

2. You are creating things for a brand
For many years I’ve created communication for adidas. When I discussed the brand with other people one of the more common comments were “I don’t see why adidas don’t do more things like Nike does it”. Well, that’s quite obvious one thinks. adidas is NOT Nike. Of course those people probably like Nike better so they believe that adidas would benefit from looking like Nike. They do however forget the fact that for every man or woman loving Nike there’s a man or woman how loves adidas. My objective when working with adidas is not to look like Nike, it’s to make adidas even more unique and therefor increase the number of people who love Nike but suddenly find themselves leaving that brand for adidas.

3. Don’t forget about the target group
In the same way people often forget about the problem they’re solving they often tend to forget about the target group. It’s not about you and your needs. It’s about your target group. Planners usually solve this problem for you. They state the core of the problem and also how to treat the target group. However, if you don’t have access to a planner. Create a moodboard on your wall or computer and make sure you look at it often. In that way you’ll keep in close contact with your target group. If possible, spend time with the target group every now and then. If your’re creating stuff for teens you will have to spend time with teens and the same goes for oldies. To many creatives distant themselves from the target group and therefor also create things people don’t care about.

4. Live the lifestyle
Creating a logo for a kitchen company? – Do you love to cook? Creating an ad campaign for a running shoe?  - Do you love to run? Illustrating for a wine label? – Do you love wine? Creating a brand platform for an artist? – Do you love his/her music? Building a website for an insurance company? – Do you love insurances. …ehh, that last one didn’t sound that fun did it? Well it’s true. You can’t expect to be doing great stuff unless you love what you do. When I personally do things for a client I instantly get religious about their products or services. In one way you could say I’m a total sell out. I used to work with Nike. My entire closet was filled with Nike stuff. Then I had the privilege to work with adidas. Suddenly I couldn’t stand looking att all those Nike products. I’m like that and it’s a great benefit when I work for clients. I fall deep deep in love with everything that has to do with their brand and the lifestyle that brand work within.

5. Shake shake shake the room.
Now and then you have to turn things upside down. Break your patterns. Get a new hobby. Read something you never thought you’d read. If you’re an opera kinda guy then become a Hip Hop kinda guy. If you spend your weekends partying downtown then next weekend step out in the nature and become a hiker. We all need to break our habits every now and then in order to be able to break out of the mold but more importantly to be able to see when we do things on routine. “Creativity is the opposite of routine” is one of my favorite quotes.

Now. There’s a few pointers. Get inspired or go your own way!

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Curiosity. My greatest asset. Born 1971 and Raised in the suburbs of style city Stockholm, creativity was always a part of growing up. With a background as a former snowboard professional (with among others Greger Hagelin from WE and Per Holknekt from Odd Molly as sponsors) and one of the few in the world who nailed a 1440° spin, I started my career on the buyer side. Marketing exclusive golf brands such as Mizuno, King Cobra and Goldwin gave me insight into the demands of advertisers and consumers but foremost the complexity behind how products actually make it into the stores. Always full of ideas, I felt I needed to move on to the creative side of the business. Internet, on the rise in Sweden drew me into the digital revolution already in 1994. In 1998 however I joined Framfab, one of the late 90’s fast-moving companies. As a concept developer and key account manager I parted in creating award winning projects for clients like Vattenfall , Bredbandsbolaget, Nike Europe and Volvo Cars. I also held a position within Framfab Innovation. The incubator of new ideas within Framfab. After Framfab had grown in just two years from 130 employees to 3400, I felt I needed to move to a smaller organization. Abel & Baker - in 2001 the worlds most awarded digital advertising company attracted me. At A&B I tool part in winning the global account for adidas, but I also worked with MTV, Nokia, Toyota, Årets Kock, ICA and the Red Cross. In 2002 I left Abel & Baker to found something of my own - Foreign. Foreign - an ideas creator with focus on the communication of tomorrow - based in Stockholm, Sweden. Foreign quickly grew to 27 employees and was awarded in the Cannes Lions, D&AD, New York Festivals, London International Advertising Awards, Epica, Clio, Cresta and other award shows every year since start up. Foreign launched both digital and integrated global campaigns for BMW Motorrad, MTV, H&M, IKEA, Omega, Beckers, Com Hem, Intersport, Kosta Boda, adidas International and many more. In September 2008 I took the decision to close Foreign down after almost 7 years. I’m now consulting within the same business on my own. Apart from Foreign I’ve also founded and Co-Founded Thru the years, leadership and success has been important, but enjoying life, loyalty and sincerity is what drives me further. I consider my part in motivating adidas to let fairly small Foreign handle adidas global digital World Cup campaigns my proudest moment in business. The birth of my two daughters Ebba & Linn is my proudest moment in life.