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Inspiring creativity in teams, trainers, brands and marketers

Updated: Sep 5, 2022



Inspiring a creative passion for brands

As a marketing/brand strategist and a teacher/trainer, I am passionate about what makes brands and marketing great. I focus on not only delivering great outputs but on motivating and enthusing my clients, peers and learners about the opportunities that great marketing and brand strategy deliver to a business. Developing great marketing and brands requires a complex mix of skills, deep expert knowledge, an understanding of technologies, a keen interest in culture, people, and business and importantly an ability to think and act creatively and collaborate creatively as a group.


The importance of creative thinking stretches much wider than the creative sector

It is widely reported that employers want creative thinkers because it benefits their bottom line and that companies that foster creativity see more revenue growth, after all in a sea of commodities only creativity and innovation stand many businesses and products apart.


However creativity and creative thinking are widely misunderstood and in many ways, creative thinking is discouraged in business, this is because creative thinking creates questions and uncertainty... it asks "what if...', it considers different viewpoints, non-standard processes, and embraces emotions as well as facts. It upsets hierarchies as we know that good ideas can come from every level of a business, and creativity requires individuals and groups to take time away from delivering ROI to share opinions and views that might not be right, that might be disagreed with, that might change the direction of a business and that might not be concrete or deliverable in it pure essence but that might, in principle, lead to innovative new ways and practices.


So where do we start.... well it is certain that creativity in a business must be nurtured across teams and a key way to do this is to offer open and non-judgemental lines of sharing and collaborating. There is good evidence that creative thinking is a skill that can be learnt, in fact, problem-solving and creativity are key to learning and we see this all the time in young children, the child who is asking why non-stop.. or who draws an imaginary machine that can bake cakes and feed cats at once. However, as we grow we are asked to organise and apply our thinking in linear and increasingly less creative ways. Creativity feeds progress, good brand strategy, marketing and indeed good business.


The importance of creativity and innovation in training

Looking towards my work as a teacher/ trainer the importance of creative thinking skills comes further to the fore. The importance of creativity and innovation in teaching and learning is a social-constructionist philosophy championed by renowned pedagogical theorists such as Piaget (1923), and Vygotsky (1978), these theorists advocate the importance of the social nature of learning and suggest that learning is a cycle that requires experience, experimentation, questioning, real-world experience and reflection.

Evidence suggests these creative processes aid the deeper learning process. Creativity and innovation are often misunderstood “To be considered creative, a product or idea must be original or novel to the individual creator”(Starko, 2005, p.6). The important point here for me is the reference to “individual creator.” this suggests that the idea might not be new but that it is new or original at that time, for that person, in that exact context. Comparatively, Avis et al. (2019, p. 115) suggest ‘creativity’ in education is 'often associated with progressive, learner-centred approaches’. They refer to the All our Futures report (NACCCE, 1999) which describes creativity as ‘First: always involves thinking or behaving imaginatively. this imaginative activity is purposeful: directed to achieving an objective. generate something original. must be of value in relation to the objective’ (NACCCE, 1999, p.4).

I agree that creativity in teaching or in a business must be directed and create value, any brief you give a strategy team or creative team must be clearly directed to a business objective - this brief writing and distilling the core aim of any activity into a creative problem to solve takes time, and problem-solving skills that are associated with non-linear thinking.


Collaboration, brainstorming and harnessing group thinking to kickstart effective creative thinking

As a brand strategist, I often kick start creative thinking using clearly directed brainstorms and collaboration sessions to solve a specific problem or to bring together group thinking.


I normally facilitate collaborative sessions to enable every viewpoint to be heard and debated and to facilitate collaborative thinking in an open environment. The group must collaborate, think innovatively and problem-solve - considering different viewpoints to get the best answer or example. As well as interactive exercises, and specialist activities such as considering the "Why, How and What" of a business, or using brand archetypes or even a box of buttons to kick start a discussion, I have also incorporated innovation in my brainstorms by using 6 Hat Method (DeBono, 2017). DeBono suggests each member of the group must wear a different “hat” and consider the problem from a different perspective – this method ensures the group are considering the widest perspective in their brainstorming and that they are thinking in non-linear ways. I have found that this method of brainstorming and problem-solving helps to scaffold group thinking and to build a more coherent understanding of a topic and leads to useful output, it also enables a group to experience different perspectives while working towards a common goal.

Other creative methods I use to solve brand and marketing problems and facilitate creative thinking include storytelling, asking "why"problem-solving, thinking backwards from an advert to a brief, putting yourself in your audience's shoes, blue skies persona building, and using questioning to refine the purpose of marketing and brand activity. Visualising a problem, creating customer journey maps, creating mind maps, completing think sheets, and incorporating reflection into the end of a group session all help to free up thinking and stop roadblocks in thinking that hinder good marketing or brand thinking.


If you are interested in understanding how I can help unlock creative thinking and problem-solving in your team, if you have a brand problem to fix or training that needs a review get in touch today. Sally.chuku@thinkcollectiv.co.uk. Alternatively, if you want to share your thoughts on facilitating creative group thinking please comment and share.


References:

A, J. Starko,(2005) Creativity in the Classroom: Routledge.

Aubrey,K., Riley, A., (2019). Understanding and Using Educational Theories. London. Sage Publications.

Avis, J., Fisher, R. and Thompson, R. (2019). Teaching in lifelong learning. 3rd ed. London. McGraw Hill Education.

Dina,A. "Teachers' beliefs about creativity in the elementary classroom" (2014). Theses and Dissertations. 469. https://digitalcommons.pepperdine.edu/etd/469

Jeffrey, B. Craft, A. (2004) Teaching creatively and teaching for creativity: distinctions and relationships, Educational Studies, 30:1, 77-87, DOI:10.1080/0305569032000159750To link to this article: https://doi.org/10.1080/03055690320001597

De Bono, E. (2017). Six Thinking Hats: The Multi-million Bestselling Guide to Running Better Meetings and Making Faster Decisions. United Kingdom: Penguin Books Limited.

Piaget, J. (1923). The Language and Thought of the Child 1st Edition, Routledge Classics.

Vygotsky, L, et Al, (1978). Thought and Language (The MIT Press) revised and expanded edition.

NACCCE (1999). All our futures: Creativity, culture and education, national advisory committee on creative and cultural education. London: DFEE. http://www.cypni.org.uk/downloads/alloutfutures.pdf

Online Advertising Spend 2020- Retrieved 9 May 2022, from https://www.marketingweek.com/online-ad-market-spend-uk-2020/.

Smart Insights. 2022. The AIDA model and how to apply it in the real world - examples and tips. [online] Available at: <https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.smartinsights.com/traffic-building-strategy/offer-and-message-development/aida-model/amp/> [Accessed 01 May 2022].

Teaching outside the box TEACHING CONTENT AND LEARNING SKILLS AT THE SAME TIME. (n.d.). https://setassets.et-foundation.co.uk/digital-assets/qtlsmap/files/standard_4/Teaching%20outside%20the%20box.pdf

QCDA.Gov.UK Curriculum (2011)



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