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Opinion: The Role of Creativity in Business Today

Creativity will be one of the defining factors for success in business. Because of this we need to embrace it and ensure that it gets a seat at the top table, writes Lee Douglas, creative director of Oliver.

Andrew Geoghegan, Diageo’s global head of media planning, recently referred to creativity as ‘the oxygen in marketing’.  It is the lifespark for old brands, new campaigns, and reaching unexplored audiences.

It can introduce us to new wonders and ideas, make us giggle or shed tears. It can touch our hearts or make us shout with joy. Creativity is a truly exclusive human trait, that can bring us together. Alongside innovation, it’s also a critical component for all businesses today, and not exclusive to marketing departments.

Creativity can be described as the thoughts, concepts, ideas and expressions, while innovation is summarised as the process, the action, the change and the implementation.

Over the last twelve months, as we’ve been forced to remain behind closed doors, businesses and brands have also been forced to find new ways to reach and connect with customers. This has brought on a greater acceptance of technology, the exponential growth of business going online, and the explosion of opportunity for brands to target customers through various platforms. And to a certain extent, business focus has moved to the ingenuity of technology, at the sacrifice of creativity.

Technology’s Role

Technology’s importance is undeniable. It helps us achieve things we would never have dreamed of. It connects us faster, right around the globe. It’s improving our health, making us more aware of our environment and ourselves. We can buy, ship and enjoy products, all at the swipe and touch of the screen. But technology is only an enabler, and used without imagination – and creativity – it won’t propel us much further, as businesses or individuals.

As more and more brands make the transition to digital-first marketing, their markets become further saturated as the volume of content and advertising increases, making the challenge ever greater to stand apart. Some achieve this by applying new and creative thinking to their purpose, their position or their message. Over the last twelve to eighteen months, many brands have done this to great effect, in response to the radical changes at societal, environmental and economic levels. These changes can be the catalyst that sparks creativity back into life, back into focus, and back to its rightful position as key to successful business, for agencies and clients.

Market Opportunities

Creativity helps your team to see new market opportunities, it helps you to come up with a unique solution to your problem, it allows you to constantly revitalise your business, it helps you stay relevant with your customers, and most of all it helps you and your team utilise a digital marketing plan that stands out from other competitors. Marketing is all about delivering values and benefits, creating products of worth, connecting the right customers to the right product or service, and in order to achieve this successfully, marketers need to be able to be authentic in a way customers can be intrigued as well as invested in the product or service.

Creativity & Innovation

As I’ve stated, creativity and innovation isn’t exclusive to marketing agencies and departments, and when encouraged within businesses and organisations, it delivers a positive impact internally. Where ideas are championed, expression is allowed, and no thoughts are wasted, internal teams are validated. Its positive nature attracts the right people, it gels teams together, removes barriers for individual, team and business growth.

But creativity and innovation doesn’t just happen. It takes the right environment to allow it to appear, develop and improve. It requires leadership, direction and focus. The much celebrated record producer, Rick Rubin stated “Ideas don’t come from out of the blue, and they don’t come merely from us. We’re tuning into them, overhearing them, remembering them, recognising them.”

Technology can only play its part in the amplification of creativity, and is not its chief instigator. Where many companies have turned to the ingenuity of technology for increased success, this will only deliver in the short term, without creativity as its centrifugal force. It exists within everyone, to varying degrees. Albert Einstein described it as ‘Intelligence having fun.” But the fun must be tempered by giving it shape, goals to achieve, a purpose. Driven by business and brand strategy, creativity can open up new opportunities, challenge conventions, deliver new perspectives. It can speed up access to customers, it can champion new causes, it can shift perception for the better. Creativity is always a positive force, and where technology becomes the standard as we embrace it more, creativity will be one of the defining factors for success. It deserves a permanent seat at the table.