Break the monotony: How to get strategic (dare we say courageous?) with your creative
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Tatianna Ducklow, Consultant, Corporate and Public Affairs
How many of us find our inboxes flooded with messages from every organization to which we ever gave our email? They tell us they are “here for you” and “stand with you during this trying time.” But are we really interested in COVID-19 commentary from that online retailer you bought a joke pair of socks from three years ago? Perhaps we don’t care; or maybe their communication simply fails to stand out.
How can organizations and brands avoid this? There’s only one way: powerful, proactive creative, rooted in an insightful strategy – one that appeals to a need your audience didn’t know they had until they saw your message.
Argyle’s Vice President of Creative, Whitney Siemens, knows that getting creative goes beyond attaching a visual to the latest narrative; it has the power to communicate in an impactful and engaging way; to elicit an emotion; and, perhaps most important, to drive action.
“Creative expression should be a part of every strategic communications program; it’s about presenting information in a captivating way to the right audience, at the right time,” says Whitney. “Even conventional information can stand out when communicated in unconventional ways.”
So how do you break monotony of the incessant messaging and help your campaigns stand out from the crowd? Here are a few tips:
Step One: Research drives insight
Insight is the not only the basis for strong strategy, it is the inspiration for breakthrough creative. How do you uncover these insights? Research – and a lot of it.
At Argyle, our research goes beyond the typical environmental scan. We dive deeper to uncover the insights that will allow our creative to disrupt, engage and drive key performance for our clients. We use these insights to go even deeper, identifying challenges and opportunities well beneath the surface and use these as the basis of our strategy. Whether the goal is to change attitudes and behaviour, increase sales or build reputation, these insights drive creative that drives results.
“We think of insight-driven strategy like the foundation on a house. Without it, creative is weak and may fall flat.” Whitney Siemens, VP Creative.
Step Two: Write the brief
Many communications experts spend hours diving into research and writing the most insightful strategy or a 40-page communications plan, but few can distill that strategy into one single driving insight and the ONE thing we need to communicate. It’s not an easy feat. As Mark Twain reportedly said, “I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.” Brevity takes time and while there is a need for comprehensive strategies, the creative brief needs to be exactly that: creative and brief, serving as that crucial link between strategy and execution.
“A strong creative brief is imperative for exceptional creative strategy and ideas. A good creative brief is inspiring: it’s the team’s insight into the project. We live and die by the brief. The more you put into it, the more you’ll get out of it.” Whitney Siemens, VP Creative.
Step Three: Ideation
At Argyle, collaboration fuels innovation. Our creative process is rooted in design thinking to stimulate breakthrough ideas in an open, brainstorm format. We work hard to push beyond ‘what worked yesterday’ to help our clients come out of their comfort zones to appeal to the unmet needs of their audiences and customers.
“It’s important to come to the ideation with an attitude of ‘I am not my audience,’” adds Whitney. “We use empathy-based approaches to leave our own needs and preferences behind and put ourselves in the place of the client or the audience. It really changes how we view the challenge or opportunity and frees us from our own biases.”
Step Four: Test, test and test again
We often fall in love with our ideas. This builds collaborative teams, generates innovation and it’s fun. But we don’t rely on our ideas alone. Testing our creative helps determine if we are on the right track, challenges our assumptions and refines the content to deliver the best possible value to the client.
Step Five – Evaluate the results
The true test of your creative is how it is received – and acted upon. Did they click on that link, like that post, share that message or sign up for that product or service? Evaluation, during and after your campaign or project, helps further refine our messaging and change course if we need to. From regularly reviewing digital analytics or completing a full campaign report, our attention to how our creative is performing demonstrates the value to the client and helps refine future creative approaches.
So, if no one is opening your email, or you’re having difficulty cutting through the noise to connect with your audiences, a deliberate creative strategy might be your answer.
Done right, creative strategy can be an unstoppable force that cuts through the monotony to add excitement and passion that ultimately drives real value for your audiences.
How can we help you get strategic with your creative? Contact us at [email protected].
About the Author
Tatianna Ducklow is a Communications and Engagement Consultant at Argyle. She joined our Calgary office in October of 2018 after previously working in a corporate communications role. Tatianna specializes in media relations, writing, strategic communications, event planning, engagement facilitation and data analysis. She holds a Bachelor of Communication in Journalism with an International Communication Certificate and Event Management Extension Certificate.