Imagine if you had a secret weapon that could make your work 10x more efficient. That could make your work more effective. Imagine what your boss would think. As the title suggests, the “secret weapon” I’m talking about is in fact not-so-secret. I’m talking about creativity, which to borrow a quote from the legendary Bill Bernbach, is “the last unfair advantage we’re legally allowed to take over our competitors”. In fact, creative messaging is scientifically more likely to generate attention, be remembered and recalled, be persuasive and generate conversation (Binet & Field, 2013).
Unfortunately creativity, and the power it wields, is often poorly understood and therefore underinvested. A large part of the confusion stems from it being an abstract concept, with multiple definitions and interpretations. My favourite definition comes from The Case for Creativity, which uses three pillars:
- Original: the ability to generate novel and innovative ideas, or combinations of ideas, that haven’t been seen before.
- Insightful: the ability to generate ideas that elicit an emotional response or compulsion to interact with or share them.
- Deliver: a high degree of executional craft or quality.
Notice that only one pillar speaks to execution, or the creation of a cute graphic design or video. Creativity is not just about artistic endeavour; it’s about ideas, and how willing and capable you are of using them.
I could wax lyrical about the benefits of creativity, but perhaps the best way to illustrate its power is to demonstrate it; as the saying goes, “show, don’t tell”. I’m drawing from an X thread by John Long, which caused a stir a few years ago. John compared highly creative with less creative work, executed by the same brands, presumably in pursuit of the same brand strategy.
Brand: Harley Davidson
Message: Be free.
Message: Take amazing pictures.
Brand: Land Rover
Message: Explore the world.
Same brand. Same message. Entirely different ways of delivering it. What strikes me most about the highly creative executions is how well the message is delivered without words; there’s confidence that the audience will simply ‘get it’. Notice also that the product is not the sole focus, instead they’re selling an idea, a lifestyle, a dream, not a 4K UHD 60p video camera (does anyone know what that means? Hit me up).
Creativity helps to inject a bit of magic into messaging. It delivers your message in a way that will resonate with your audience and make them actually want to interact with it. Think about it: would you rather read a Wikipedia article about the “American Dream” or read The Great Gatsby? Would you rather listen to a poem about heartbreak, or listen to a Taylor Swift song? Would you rather watch a documentary about class division or watch The White Lotus? In a world where we have these choices, your competition is not another company’s message, but everything vying for your audience’s attention.
Next time you’re looking for messaging cut-through, or wondering how you can appeal to a certain target audience, creativity might be your answer. Don’t just put your message out there and hope for the best; do yourself a favour and recognise that your work deserves the best chance to be heard, processed and understood.
If you’d like to learn more about harnessing creativity, the fabulous execution skills of the SenateSHJ Studio team, or our other secret weapons, drop me a line. After all, I can’t be going around giving away all my secrets.