How do you come up with an idea?
It’s a common question for people in marketing agencies and other creative industries – and the answers inevitably always vary.
The artist Isaac Julien takes a magpie approach to inspiration: “I seek it from all sorts of sources; anything that allows me to think about how culture comes together. I’m always on the lookout – I observe people in the street; I watch films, I read, I think about the conversations that I have. It’s about taking all the little everyday things and observing them with a critical eye; building up a scrapbook which you can draw on.”
Fyfe Dangerfield, lead singer of Guillemots, likens the process to seeing ghosts: “The ideas are always there, half-formed. It’s about being in the right state of mind to take them and turn them into something that works. One of the most difficult things is the sheer number of distractions: mobiles, email, Twitter, YouTube. When you’re writing, you have to be very disciplined, to the point of being awkward: Turn off your phone and find a space to work without any of these distractions.”
The director Rupert Goold prefers to look to his subconscious for ideas. “Get an alarm with a long snooze function and set it early,” he says. “Shallow-sleep dreams have been the source of many of my best ideas. The best ideas are tested by their peaks and troughs. One truly great image or scene astride a broken mess is more intriguing than a hundred well-made clichés.”
“Inspiration can also come when a good connection is made with the subject,” says photographer Martin Parr. “The nature and quality of this connection can vary enormously. It may range from getting into a small community and winning the trust of the subjects over a number of visits, but it could also come from walking in the mountains and feeling a certain affinity with the landscape. The knack is to find your own inspiration, and take it on a journey to create work that is personal and revealing.”
The idea “Ignition” process starts with finding that inspirational touchpoint where an incontrovertible product truth collides with a deep consumer insight. What happens after this is a chain reaction of creative thinking that comes from every department and discipline, drawing upon all of the diverse talents and harnessing every channel of communication open to your brand.
Solving modern business problems in an ever-changing digital landscape requires a team that’s equipped with a mind-set as eclectic and well connected as the world itself. There’s no room for creative apartheid anymore. Anyone can come up with an idea, at any place, at any time.
For me, the best way of getting to that mystical place where the best ideas are is staring out of the window on a train journey. What’s yours?
by Peter Davis
Executive Creative Director – Manchester
Follow Peter on Twitter @DigitalDavis
Cross-posted at Ignite Something on the Forbes CMO Network