Being a creative director and working in marketing and advertising for the past thirty years it’s easy to identify the top ten things that kill an idea, prevent you from being creative or destroys innovation. Grant it there are easily more then ten things that crumble innovation but these ten seem to usually be a contributor.
10. Lack of Budget. Enough said.
9. Lawyers. I like lawyers but when it comes to advertising they often confuse their role which is to protect the company or the position of the organization but it is not to limit it. They are a service function to anticipate risk, manage it and prevent it. But they are not supposed to completely substitute risk for calculated risk. They protect the patents and potential lawsuits, which is necessary. But they are not the voice of the organization. So edit for legal purposes. You’re not creative. Stop trying to be copywriters and support risk that adds potential value. Some risks are worth taking to advance.
8. Lack of Trust for the Expert. You’re not in Advertising. You have no experience or formal training in it…so trust those that do. People who think they know Marketing and Creative because they have an opinion or an idea. Therefore, they know everything about it. I’m not a surgeon so I wouldn’t advise a physician how to do a procedure. Leave the expertise up to the experts.
7. Clients Kids. Know thy Audience. Trust the audience and recognize that you or your kids or your parents aren’t always the right audience. True story I had a client who was a marketing director for a billion dollar Data Company. As we received her feedback on our concepts she said to us…my eight year old didn’t like these two therefore I’d like to go with this one and can you add this…this and this. I gathered up the boards and kindly said…have a nice day…we’re not the organization you need to be working with on this campaign. It’s crazy how many times creativity and innovation is killed by the wrong opinions from the wrong audience perspective.
6. Conservative Views. Bring conservative results and limit your audience growth potential. These individuals have no place in marketing or creative. They need to be in finance where this is an appropriate skill. But to grow…to expand…to sieze new markets you have to take calculated risk. You have to be bold and take losses to gain bigger pieces of the pie. Lose a battle here and there to gain knowledge and win the war. You learn from your failures and embrace them and grow from them. You call yourself a marketer an innovator. I call you dangerous.
5. Brand Management. Confusing Brand guidelines and consistency as prison walls. Brand standards are guidelines and a foundation to design and use. They are not meant to restrict the evolution, boundaries and growth of an image or organizational vision.
5. Fear. Plain and simple. Fear of being wrong. Fear of not making your executives happy. Fear of not challenging. Fear of trying to please the world. Fear of thinking your boss’ are more passionate about your brand or product then your customers. Fear of not thinking your customers are as smart or smarter then you about your brand.
4. No Guts…No Glory. If you can’t take a calculated risk then you have lost your ability to be innovative. You have lost your entrepreneurial spirit. You have weakened you product or services reputation. You have taken away that passion and love that attracted your customers to you in the first place. So be bold. Go for it.
3. Inability to Create Something New. Independent thought and the ability to create something new that no one has seen or tried is nearly dead today. Copycats are everywhere and worst some clients just want to be like the other guy. I never understood this thinking and never will. Why not be the one that others want to copy? Hmmmm I think that’s called leading the industry and creating new ways of thinking. Talk about a cool way to built your reputation and get noticed.
2. You’re Not The Competitor. Immolating a competitor or producing something that has already been done. You forgot how to lead and now just are satisfied to follow. You think copying or second best is fine and will do. You are content with just surviving. You have decided that being creative is bringing something in at budget and settling – just relying on your past or foundation instead of building on it and expanding. You have decided you are content with the market share you have and only care about retaining it vs. owning it and growing it. You rely on the old way instead of creating new ways to grow.
1. Executives without Vision, Passion or Purpose. When strategic plans become paper and not mantras. When executive don’t walk the talk. When their vision and purpose are so busy looking inward that they forget the opportunities or growth potential that is literally in front of them for the taking. They become their worst competition.