So, what is creative? Perfect timing in an edit. Simple intuitive UX. A stunning logo. A wry headline. The perfect visual. Sometimes a laugh, or a tear, but always a human connection.
Creative is familiar things combined in unexpected ways.
A short story placed next to an unknown painting on a wall becomes a multi-million-dollar art sale. A telephone and a miniature hard drive become a smartphone. A taxi and a smartphone become Uber. The Yellow Pages, a database and an algorithm become Google. A glucose monitor and an insulin delivery device become an artificial pancreas. A standard Medicare product, naming insight, and creative packaging become $100 million in projected revenue for a healthcare client.
Creative is neither good nor bad. It just is. At its most beautiful, the Sistine Chapel. At its ugliest, the use of hijacked airplanes as missiles in asymmetrical warfare.
Creative resists definitions. But as Supreme Court justice Potter Stewart famously said about pornography, “I know it when I see it”. Or as Louis Armstrong said about jazz, “If you have to ask, you’ll never know.”
What about our business?
Creative is a mirror that reflects an audience back to itself. Saying there is someone like me on the other side. Someone who knows and understands me and gets my needs.
While strategy is left brain, creative is right brain. While strategy thinks, creative feels. While strategy is logical, creative is intuitive. If strategy is a ship, creative is the size of its sails.
Creative is the human interface in every transaction ever done or will be. No matter what the message, the medium or the technology, there will always be humans at the receiving end who don’t want to feel alone in their decisions.
So what makes creative great? The surprising answer is surprise.
In the words of renowned family therapist and author Dr. Stanley Siegal, “Surprise creates a momentary rupture in the thought process. The mind, momentarily confused, is thrown off balance, and in that rare moment, the opportunity arises to introduce a new thought.
I use surprise as a technique, a means of disrupting a pattern of thinking and creating a moment of attention in which I can introduce a new idea.”
And that, friend, is what great creative is and does.