Where do good ideas come from? A post about ideas and creative briefs

Where do good ideas come from?

I’ve been thinking about this a lot this week, as I was asked this very question the other day, as my good friend Nicki Sprinz was giving a talk on ideas at the most recent She Says event.  I answered her question with lots of rambly stuff, which she kindly edited into something that sounded quite pithy and sensible.

I said

Good ideas come from intelligent creative people working together.  The brief just sets the parameters for the direction and records the thinking.

This has come at a good time as I’ve been asked to do some training with the people in my department on what a planner/strategist does, why planning/strategy is good, and also how to make better creative work/ideas happen (but still be ‘on brief’.)

One of the important elements in this argument is the creative brief.  Creative briefs are important.  Lots of agencies don’t bother with them any more – many more than that don’t seem to care if they’re good – but they should still be held in high esteem because:

They are a record of all the thinking that has happened to date.  This should be a lot of thinking.  There should have been desk research, consumer research, trawling through stats and reports and whatever else to find golden nuggets of insight.  These insights, challenging thoughts which should be no less than ‘revolutionary’, should get people excited about the task.

Here’s an absolutely terrific presentation about creative briefs from Dare:

Anything can be exciting if the benefit to the consumer is made clear in the brief.  If that’s clear then thinking up the next ideas beyond that is down to the people in the room.

Good ideas come from creative people working together.  The brief should be great and the person doing the brief has to know their stuff.  The other people in the room should be creative, smart, funny (funny is essential), enthusiastic, and prepared to say whatever comes into their heads.  The cliche that nothing is wrong in a brainstorm is right.  That’s why it’s a cliche.  I also say ‘working together’ because it is work.  We should be prepared to take lots of time to hone, refine and perfect our ideas.

So, that’s it.  I really would have liked to have been at the event – sounds like it went very well.

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