Tag Archives: nicki sprinz

Some great sources about ideas, insights, and so forth

Browsing around, here are some articles about ideas, insight and planning that I’ve found very helpful, interesting, challenging, useful, thought-provoking and so on…

Seth Godin: Where do ideas come from?

This is a list of 20 places ideas come from.  I like the way he makes ideas sound like living things, with lives of their own.  Reminds me that we have to knock ideas into shape if we want them to help us achieve what we want them to.

Dave Trott: The difference between an insight and an idea

Useful thinking around the important difference between insight and ideas, that the latter really can’t exist without the former.

Little Scraps of Paper is a Posterous blog…

…which has lots of videos of creative people talking about their creative practices, where they get their ideas from.

Martin Weigel’s provocative article, Stop fetishising the insight

Great article, reminds us that even astonishing insights stop being ‘Aha’ revelations once they are expressed and become common knowledge/received wisdom. I hope I have understood his argument in that it leads me to think that although every idea needs  insight, we shouldn’t waste time on perfecting the insight itself, gilding lilies, flogging dead horses, making silk purses etc etc.  Our challenge is to not stop at the insight but to push for better ideas, make sure whatever we do is useful and true.

Tom Wagner’s Approaches to ideas and a proposed metaphor

Superb metaphor: ‘creative hedging’ = fits well with the current trend for no-process, no-formal brief protocol agile planningness…

Bobulate is…

…chock full of common sense and genius

Ideas are awesome

…is full of lovely ideas, unsurprisingly

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Great stuff.

But the She Says sub-question (do women and men have different approaches to creativity) has got me thinking.  Where are all the women blogging about ideas?  Why am I looking for them separately now?  Why aren’t they being referenced as much as men?

Here are some women blogging about good ideas and their thinking:

Heather LeFevre – a planning director in Amsterdam who runs an annual planner survey

The Made by Many blog features interesting women

Uberblond (although she is taking a break.)

Farrah Bostic – who curates a list of women to watch, which rather thrillingly includes my friend Nicki Sprinz

Now I’m starting to explore her blogroll and the blogs from there.  There’s a world of new untapped stuff to read – how exciting!

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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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Why it’s time to value brand strategy (again?)

A friend tweeted a link to this article about brand strategy today. The very same Nicki Sprinz with whom I had a chat about ‘big ideas’ over lunch on Saturday. I quite like them, she doesn’t, although we’re both ‘strategists’.

Anyway, this article is quite badly written – I am not sure what Adam Ferrier was doing that day, but he perhaps had other things on his mind. Planners often do… Anyway it’s a call to arms for planners to ‘innovate, create and play’, and amidst the mentalness of his writing style (maybe that’s why I liked the article so much) there are a several more very important points, which make reading the article worthwhile.

Here are some of the thoughts it provoked in me…

Business problems – what digital can do to solve business problems is huge. Yet often we’re tied up implementing something technical without thinking about it properly. If someone asks you to do a banner or a booking engine, ask them why they want it, find out what they really want their consumers to feel or believe when they see the banner or the booking engine, and take a step back and look at the big picture. Perhaps they want a banner because they’re not getting enough traffic to a particular place on their site, but maybe what they need isn’t a banner but more useful content…

You can’t really do content without having some form of ‘big idea’ or ‘territory’ or ‘manifesto’ sitting there in the background, supporting what you do and making your messaging more joined up. That’s all.

Redefining the discipline… He talks about the role of brand strategist (or planner) needing to be redefined. But I go back to my point in an earlier post. Planning is planning, is strategy, or whatever. You’re always answering the questions whatever it says in your email signature:

  • What are we trying to achieve? (From a business and a comms point of view)
  • Who are we targeting and why? And what insight are we operating around?
  • What do we want people to say/think/feel/do?
  • How are we going to get there?
  • And then returning to the question what are we trying to achieve to check, ‘is this right’? And then going back to the beginning if it’s not (being fairly agile about it, innit.)

I don’t think that we need to redefine the role at all. We don’t need to re-write the creative brief. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel either. His point that brand strategy needs to be taken more seriously in digital agencies is very important though. Brand strategy gives weight and meaning to everything we do. Strategists should be thicker on the ground than they are. Then we might get less implementation briefs and more thinking ones.

So, here are some questions.

  • What digital agencies do take brand strategy seriously and what can we learn from them?
  • What trad ad agencies with famously good planning departments are making the move into digital well?
  • Does it really matter? Shall we all just stop talking about it and get on with doing some work instead?

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