Editor’s Note: Hey, hey! Our team at Blackwood has launched a podcast called The Big Brand Theory! This episode, our host, Kyle Johnson spoke with Peter Wilken, a professional speaker and brand strategy consultant, about creative thinking. Here’s what they shared.
| WHAT IS CREATIVE THIKING? |
Creative thinking is a term used very often in the marketing world and can be an amazing tool if used correctly. Simply put, creative thinking is using one’s imagination to look at something in a new way. In business, being able to approach something in a new way is a valuable asset and creative thinking proves to be an amazing tool for any business regardless of industry. Peter Wilken describes creative thinking like this:
Creative thinking is “Zigging when others are zagging.”
| WHY SHOULD YOU CARE? |
If you don’t have creative thinking, there is no innovation. Peter uses an example that perfectly describes why creative thinking is worth your time and investment. 13 years ago in Vancouver, the local government was arguing about building a bridge or a tunnel. Today, they’re still arguing about what to do. Within those 13 years, the Chinese built the longest sea-crossing bridge, four artificial islands, and all the associated roads/tunnels in 8 years and still had time afterward. This goes to show what a little creative thinking can do when you or you’re company is in a bind and can’t seem to land on an answer.
EVEN THOUGH PEOPLE ARE DESCRIBING 2020 AND WHAT WE ARE LIVING THROUGH AS THE AGE OF DISORDER, WHICH IS TRUE, I THINK THE OPPURTUNITY IS THE AGE OF CREATIVITY. BRANDS CAN CAPITALIZE ON THIS – PETER WILKEN
| DIM SUM STRATEGY |
Peter describes The Dim Sum Strategy as 40-45 bite-sized tools to build stronger brands. The book explains strategies that had the most effect on his clients over the years.
Similar to the concept of a dim sum meal where you are offered a large range of small dishes you can choose from, you can get the meaning of the concept in a 10-minute read and should be able to practically apply it afterward. At the end of reading The Dim Sum Strategy, you should be able to pick and choose the strategies you want to take with you and the ones you wish to leave behind. In the same respect, you can also sit down for the full meal and get more out of the book.
| THE 4 D’s PROCESS OF BRAND BUILDING |
The Dim Sum Strategy follows a structural pattern coined the 4 D’s process of brand building. The goal of the 4 D’s is the understand the perception of your brand and this strategy can work for anyone. The 4 D’s are as follows:
“Understanding the key perceptions of your brand.”
This part of the process is about discovering how exactly your brand is perceived. A good place to start here might be engaging in a conversation with your consumers to see exactly where you are in their heads.
“The heart of your DNA is your promise. Your overarching commitment to your stakeholders and the benefits of delivering against that.”
Define your brand’s DNA. Who are you? What value do you have for your stakeholders? What is your promise? Why do you do what you do? It is important to know the answers to these questions because they make up your brand’s core DNA.
“Boil down complexity into 4 or 5 key things that you can tackle and set a plan to deliver.”
Focus on how you can bring your DNA to life. Creating a realistic plan is paramount in this step because follow-up is key here. Peter mentioned setting 4-5 goals that are ambitious but can still be accomplished. Not only do you need goals, but you need an action plan. Be sure that your goals can be accomplished then move towards them.
This part is all about how you accelerate your plan. Put it into action. Use whatever tools you need to accelerate your plans to accomplish your goals. Peter mentions how using third-parties and other people can help you move towards your goals.
| THE DELIVERY DONUT |
“How you focus on delivering your brand experience drives perception more than talking about the perception.”
Have you ever play Trivial Pursuit? The Delivery Donut is sort of shaped like that board. A round circle with six pizza slices in the middle.
The top part focuses on what you do through people, products/services, and systems. These things can enable or hinder your product perception. The bottom part of the circle is for internal communication, external communication, and lastly, your design and how you express yourself creatively. Your brand DNA is in the center of all six of these factors and completes your delivery donut.
THE #1 RULE OF GREAT ADVERTISING: BE DISRUPTIVE, GET NOTICED, THEN CONVEY A RELEVANT MESSAGE – PETER WILKEN
| THINK OUTSIDE YOUR BUBBLE |
“Recognize what the thought bubbles that you’re in and that you’re trapped within and get out of them.”
Bursting your own thought bubble and learning about your personal biases is paramount in starting to think creatively. So often we stay inside our own universe and can’t see any outside perspective without bias. Think about your perceptual lens compared to others. Peter gives the example of the different generations and their priorities. Gen Z are digital natives. Baby boomers grew up during wartime and were more concerned with finishing their plates.
| WHAT ARE THE STEPS TOWARDS BETTER CREATIVE THINKING? |
Identify with the concept. Put yourself in the position of that concept. Identify the constraints of thinking.
If you’re stuck in a concept, it is time to re-evaluate your strategy. Peter gives the example of Kodak. The digital age was everywhere and Kodak simply hadn’t adapted. When he was working with them, he came up with the idea “keep it with Kodak”. They focused on the idea of keeping physical copies forever, but the tagline itself they could use way past physical prints. The tag line “keep it with Kodak” could apply to any of their product offerings until the end of time because of the nature of the statement.
| AVOID FALLING INTO TRAPS |
The two biggest factors that can get in the way of creative thinking are risk aversion and avoiding challenges. You should focus on challenging the status quo and should always be looking to break things that aren’t necessarily broken. Like Peter says,
“Change happens like a great white shark attacking from underneath and ripping your fins off if you’re a seal and you’re dead.”
Unless you’re using creative thinking to adapt to change and move forward, you might just die. Well, you might not die but your business probably will. Don’t wait until it’s too late to adapt to the changing times. Continue to push yourself, burst your bubble to reveal your biases, and just try your crazy ideas. At the end of the day, why not try your crazy ideas? If they fail, they fail. But you will never know unless you try.
If your current marketing strategy just isn’t cutting it anymore, you’ve come to the right place. Our team of experts here at Blackwood Creative would be more than happy to work with you and help you meet and exceed your business goals. We’re in the business of building remarkable brands – yours could be next. Reach out to us today!