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Generating creative ideas for your brand or company

Lately, we’ve been busy – busy ideating that is.

Ideating – which is a fancier term for brainstorming – is a core necessity or foundational step within an advertising and marketing agency’s process of generating creative ideas.

In almost every case, these creative ideas deliver a need or provide a solution to a client problem.  However, good ideas don’t have to be limited to only serving clients (although being paid for good ideas is crucially important).  Reinventing the company website, modifying new business collateral materials or working on a pro-bono campaign can be extremely empowering and beneficial in boosting morale.  Simply put, creative ideation is an enjoyable way to get lots of fresh ideas out on the table and get everyone thinking and pulling together!

Where do you start?  What are best practices?  Sounds like a perfect opportunity for another Force 5 – Top 5 list.  Without further ado, the following rules serve as our guiding light to productive ideating:

  1. Come prepared to participate
    • The meeting requester should provide a pre-reading assignment (like an initial creative brief or client contact report) so everyone knows the key objective(s) in advance
    • Do some preliminary research.  Consider the basics like the brand or the company and their competition– but dig deeper
    • Independently ideate and bring at least one, well thought-out idea to the meeting
  2. The moderator is the captain
    • Arrange for 75-90 minutes of discussion.  I find that one hour is often not enough, but participant’s schedules may dictate the desired duration
    • Have a plan!  Think about what you must take away from the meeting by scripting key questions in advance
    • Keep it moving.  Don’t interrupt or cutoff a speaker, but after a specific idea or topic has been exhausted transition to the next discussion point
  3. All ideas are good ideas
    • Withhold criticism.  Someone else’s idea may spark a separate idea later in the process – so don’t automatically discard an idea because you don’t think it has merit
    • Specifically avoid saying “no” and “we can’t” – these words can derail the session because the people being told no will often shut down and stop contributing to the discussion
    • Instead, build on the idea by implementing the “yes, but…” scenario – “Yes (I hear what you’re saying, even though I might not agree) but perhaps we could consider…”
  4. Capture as many ideas as possible
    • Use large post-it notes or a white board to capture all of the ideas in writing, so everyone can see what is being encapsulated and can build on the ideas later in the process
    • Try to organize ideas by category but remember the most important thing is to capture as much info as possible – if you can’t easily categorize simply jot-down in chronological order
    • If need be, politely stop the person speaking and ask them to succinctly restate their idea to make certain  you’ve accurately depicted all of their key points
  5. You’re done, now what?  (post-ideation)
    • Immediately following, write up all of the ideas and distribute to everyone who participated.  Ask them again to confirm that you’ve accurately captured all of their ideas
    • Time permitting, leave the ideas up on the wall – this allows people to come back and build on all of the ideas afterwards (because sometimes it’s good to step away, then come back)
    • Determine if another ideation meeting should be scheduled.  Perhaps you didn’t’ get as far as you would have liked, or maybe you’d like to drill down even further

Need help generating creative ideas for your brand or company?  Let Force 5 play a role in assisting you and your organization in meeting and exceeding your marketing objectives.  We’ve love to ideate a solution for you!