The main and favorite phrase in the conversation about creativity is Think outside the box! but boxes are necessary and can be extremely useful in any creative process. Speaking from the agency perspective where we deal with diverse clients every day, I believe that frames are exactly what leads to the best creative ideas. Why? Let me explain.
Frameworks exist for a reason
Let’s imagine that we need to come up with a creative concept for a client. Like any other, this client has a specific budget that is earmarked for the creation of this campaign. This is the first framework that we must respect – we cannot go outside this framework because… we cannot. Each campaign and creative concept has its own goal – sales, brand awareness, user engagement on social networks, and transmission of a specific message or brand value. With this, we come to another framework that will be useful for our thinking and creativity. An important thing to keep in mind is the target audience – meet the third frame. Most brands also have their own guidelines, and it is necessary to take them into account when embarking on the creative process. We will call them the fourth frame. I could go on and on like this, but it will be enough for the point of the story.
For some, these frameworks, guidelines, or limitations will seem daunting at first glance and seem like the end of the story, but the story is just beginning.
How to turn the boundaries in your favor?
Let’s put everything on paper. Old-school methods sometimes help the most. Once we see all the possibilities, goals, and main items from the brief in one place, we automatically start to connect them in a kind of mental map. We ask ourselves the following questions: What is the relationship between the target audience and the goal? What is the age of the audience and what do they like? Does the brand have something they love? What feeling do we want to arouse in them?
We create a vortex of questions and try to answer ourselves. That answer is often an idea. Sometimes a bad and meaningless idea, but through the process of eliminating such ideas, we come to the golden and winning idea. Without eliminating bad ideas, we would only have a wild imagination without rationalization. At some point during individual or group brainstorming, a light bulb will turn on and we will reach that ‘yes, that’s it’ moment that we are striving for.
Here’s a simple example of how restriction can lead to much more creative ideas. Try to list a few green things. Most of the time we will think of something general like trees, crocodiles, lime… If we add a framework and say ‘List 5 green things in Zagreb during Christmas’, we will remember a lot of different things such as decorated green pine trees, green lights, some green designs on the glasses, green elements on the inscription at the entrance to Fooling Around and the like. Borders, signs, or frames are there to provide us with a different perspective on everyday things and phenomena.
What if it doesn't work?
Creative block – every creative’s nightmare. What to do when your job is literally to be creative, and that day or even week – doesn’t work out? Everyone has their methods, but what works in most cases is – to move away. Detach yourself from trying to come up with the best idea ever because it’s not just going to happen. Creativity often comes from leisure and having fun. So take a walk, do the things you love, and in such moments find traces of a new idea. Since creativity is combining existing things in new ways, it is logical that new experiences will bring us the basis for new and better ideas. Sometimes we really can’t see the tree from the forest and it’s very easy to overlook ideas that are just waiting to be found.
A lot of creativity is hidden in the people around us. Team brainstorming is another great way to come up with good ideas. A regular practice in the Content & Social media team at the beginning of each project is a thorough brainstorming in which the entire team participates with their view of the situation and contributes by communicating their perspective on a specific case. Brainstorming usually ends up with a bunch of ideas from which we end up with several different proposals for the client who can then choose the one that resonates the most.