Creativity is what you need to make strategy and design work hand in hand.

How creativity bridges the gap between strategy and design

Let’s face it. We all love a great campaign. Whether it was the media platform that made it stand out, the story told, or simply the emotional engagement that brought tears to our eyes, a good campaign is memorable. The question that usually crosses our mind is: “how did they do it?” How do agencies manage to come up with something so intuitive, so spot on, so funny, or so powerful? I often find myself appreciating the sentiment and emotion that a great ad gives far more than its aesthetics. Making something look beautiful is easy, but creating emotion, that’s the tricky part.

What makes an ad campaign successful?

It’s the beautiful marriage of many hours of research, paired with genius design, which leaves us so gob-smacked. A great campaign does not just come out of nowhere. It’s not pure luck. There is a lot of background work involved to make it seem so seamless and easy. There are years of experience, and an all-star team pushing the envelope with cutting- edge ideas.
Daniel Pink talks about the difference between the two hemispheres in our brain. Creatives are said to be more intuitive and holistic, thus using the right hemisphere of the brain far more, whilst the left is said to be the logical, analytical and sequential side, used more by strategic planners.

But what if we had to use both?

What if we had to become that rare percentage of human beings that uses both right and left equally?
Human brain cut in two
So here comes the whole point of this blog post: How can being creative bridge the gap between strategy and design? If you’re creative, you already have that bit extra that is so sought after. You see things that others don’t, and you have the ability to communicate visually through whatever medium you feel comfortable with. Creatives are usually the backbone of the work.
We then have the strategic thinkers, the brains behind great campaigns. These creatures are the logical beings, perhaps those who feel more comfortable expressing themselves with square-based diagrams and pages upon pages of scribbly writing. But, don’t be fooled, these analytical minds are geniuses at what they do.
A couple of years ago, I was lucky to meet someone who had the capability of using both logic and creativity when thinking and expressing herself. With her background in fine arts and a love of mathematics, I always remained in awe when listening to her rationalise. It’s amazing how much you can learn from a person just by trying to understand the way they think. We were both reading for our Master’s degree together, and that year I learnt to really get out of my comfort zone and own that feeling of the unknown.
That is when I was introduced to strategic thinking within brand management. For the first time in many years, logic and rationality were the foundations of my research, whereas design played a superficial role in the final aspects of a project.
What I discovered is that creativity and logic do not have to be two separate entities. You can approach a problem by thinking in a creative manner. You may think that this sounds quite obvious, but you’ll be surprised to find that the few creative people who explore different ways of thinking are actually those capable of making this look easy. We are already gifted with a unique way of seeing the world; by applying strict rationality to the overall development process, I believe we are able to achieve outstanding results. After all, it all falls under the same industry, you are merely opening your eyes (and brain) to a world that’s bigger than just design. Just imagine, a design brief that has been tailored by you.
So that’s it folks. When you next come across one of those amazing ads, perhaps look at it in a way that you wouldn’t normally. Instead of focusing on its beauty, open your eyes to the reaction of the people watching it, and try to imagine the thought behind the emotional engagement created that makes that ad so powerful. You could very well achieve the same response through your work just by getting out of your comfort zone… and who knows, there will be a day when other fellow creatives will come to you to pick your brain.

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