Both an art and science, creativity is our ability to craft what has never been done before and see the world through a unique perspective. Not only is it a mindset, it’s an essential tool to take us from idea to fruition. Whether physical or virtual, analog or digital, businesses and brands use creativity to take customers on a journey, offering a unique experience full of value and authenticity. Besides the root of a natural desire to express ourselves, creativity is a way of thinking. Infusing creativity into our business approaches and solutions helps educate, inspire and delight customers with an unforgettable connection. By exceeding customer expectations, creativity helps brands grow awareness and forge lifelong loyalty through original experiences. 


According to Adobe, companies that foster creativity enjoy 1.5 times greater market share. Moreover, in a recent study on creativity’s contribution to businesses and brands, Forrester notes that firms exhibiting creativity grow 2.6 times faster than their peers. Although the numbers speak for themselves, not all of us see ourselves as having the natural talent or the ability to be creative.


The Creative Type


“I’m just not the creative type.” We’ve all heard it before. During a recent continuing education session for a client, Tracy West, Group Creative Director at 50,000feet, shared how each of us can overcome barriers to tap into our own creativity. West explained creative thinking’s role in the approach of Design Thinking and how this process will help solve some of marketing’s—and perhaps life’s—greatest challenges.


West described how 50,000feet employs Design Thinking methods during client engagements that help foster creativity across disciplines and project teams. She emphasized the importance of building a team environment in all types of businesses that supports and values these practices to unlock the greater potential of the resulting collective force. 


According to West, Design Thinking offers a set of tools and methods for any team in every industry in a range of modes, from radical customer-centricity to those that foreground and foster empathetic, narrative approaches. Design Thinking is grounded on a set of discrete principles and outlines a practical, interdisciplinary approach to uncovering problems and then solving them. 


In their research, Forrester analysts Jay Pattisall and Ted Schadler arrive at a similar conclusion. “Business leaders often conflate the universality of ‘creativity’ with the exceptionalism of ‘creative.’ The ‘creative’ designation is set aside for the exceptional few—an artist, a designer, a creative team or founders of innovative companies. But rationing permission to ‘be creative’ and burying the spirit of creativity that flows through us all prevents us from seeing that creativity is everywhere.”


Creating Together


Design Thinking combines critical and creative thinking to look at problems, both large and small, in new ways and from new angles, ultimately arriving at solutions to solve these challenges. Whether in-store, online or within an immersive physical environment, great design helps us to navigate our way, understand our context, accomplish our tasks and realize our potential at every touchpoint in our journey. 


Bringing together both ways of thinking gives us our unique ability to create intentional and meaningful impact and oftentimes, seismic change. The combination, and balance, is critical for every client, no matter the industry, area of expertise or functional role. 


By conducting continual, extensive research, teams can tailor programs with equal parts insight, expertise and intuition. To do that, teams should employ this iterative, interdisciplinary approach that is grounded on audience insight and contextual needs within an omni-channel world. When done well, teams across client service, strategy, creative and technology are able to deliver a well-informed, multifaceted perspective for our clients, addressing direct needs of their customer base.


Transformational Change


In a recent article, Susie Walker, Head of Awards at Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, shares how creative transformation is necessary for business growth and resilience in a world faced with perpetual digital disruption and the ongoing effects of COVID-19.


Walker writes that “when we think of business transformation today, we might not immediately associate it with creativity. While the marketing and advertising world has shifted toward adopting marketing tech and ad tech to gain new ground, we increasingly see more evidence of the intrinsic link between creativity and business success.”


Walker also writes that Forrester “found a shift of $19 billion from technology into creativity over six years would provide an increase in ROI as high as 18 percent—a potential return of $66 billion. Although the study was conducted in the U.S., we expect to see similar results elsewhere in the world.”


As Walker writes, “creativity is the biggest driver of non incremental growth. When done well, creativity improves long-term brand health, supports sales spikes, changes consumer behavior or brand perception, and can even endorse pricing power and elasticity over the long term.”


Creating Impact


Getting started is perhaps one of the most exciting parts of any project. The act of discovery and revealing new insights sets us on a strategic course for the future. It takes clear communication, and everyone needs to feel a part of the journey. 


Learning to step outside of ourselves to see and serve the needs of our audiences—whether our clients or our clients’ customers—is critical to developing not only a deep understanding but also a nuanced empathy for the experiences which teams are creating. An open-minded approach that doesn’t rely or rest on assumptions is critical to achieving innovative solutions that deliver meaningful impact. As West adds, “One of the best habits to build, foster and enable creative thinking is to leave your assumptions at the door. Focus on problem-solving first, and then designing an efficient, elegant and enjoyable solution will follow.”


So get inspired, and let’s get going. Together, we can create something great.