The Startup Guide to Creative Thinking: Top Creative Tips

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Want to unlock the creative potential for your business? We’ve compiled a list of the top tips from our event on creative thinking, hosted here in London. We brought together expert creatives and directors of various specialist agencies to discuss how startups could address the issue of thinking creatively amongst their teams.

Over the course of the panel we delved deeper into how you can develop new, more creative ways of thinking, provide a space for non-creatives to open up their minds and share their ideas, and where startups can easily test out concepts and have a chance of winning, against larger brands.

1. Don’t Shy Away from Creativity

Anushka Sharma, our panel host and Founder of Naaut, raised the point that throughout her career she never realised how creative she was and it was only when she became a founder that she started to become aware of her creative potential. Everyone has the potential to be creative, so don’t feel like you are missing out on that natural spark.

2. Think About the Formula

Prisca Moyesa, Founder of Moyesa & Co, suggested that if you  want to develop your creative thinking, watch your favourite movies and look at the formula they go by. Then consider, “how can I create my own formula and style relevant within a business context?”. This is one way to get your creative juices flowing, whilst having an excuse to binge watch your favourite films!

3. Put your True Voice Out There

Charlotte Hamill, Joint Managing Director of Born Social, said that when it comes to your company or personal brand you can and should be bold. She highlighted the need of “injecting a punchier voice...having a stronger opinion and not going in with dry corporate spiel that you think you have to say”. To gain attention, this is likely to be more successful than just following everyone else. Don’t be afraid to be yourself and go for what you want, rather than what you think people will like. “Don’t think necessarily wacky...but ballsy there's room for”.

4. Cultivate A Creative Space

Charlotte also said “good ideas come from everywhere. Create an environment that is open and supportive of ideas...There is no such thing as a bad idea”

She emphasised the importance of making a space for inspiration and creativity. Creative talk is one of the best methods for boosting your businesses creativity and it's important to be original. By cultivating your own space, you can avoid the temptation to copy others.

One of the best way to get your creative process flowing is to “look at bad content”. This will, at the very least, give you an idea of what not to do when brainstorming.

5. People, Collaboration and Culture

When it comes to the creative process, Arjun Singh, Founder of ULTD_INC, said, “thinking in a silo is really frustrating, which is why I think creative teams exist, and why people are put together with different types of people”. Arjun went on to say that collaboration can help stir your creative process.

Prisca also emphasised the importance of collaborating and suggested reaching out to others providing value to your audience and asking for help on social. For example, if you’re a travel startup, and none of your team are travelling, reach out to travel bloggers and ask them to post on your behalf. It’s this type of creative thinking that will help your business grow.

She also highlighted to importance of understanding other cultures: “Immerse yourself in the world - I’m obsessed with different cultures and languages. When I meet someone, I try to understand their culture, language, tones and sounds... You’ll see the world from a different perspective, and it opens up creativity”.

6. Be Bold, Be an Expert

Ryan Murphy, VP Creative Director of VaynerMedia mentioned that creativity is linked to “being authentic, passionate and not being afraid to put your ideas out there...Take risks! You have less to lose and more to win". As a startup you can afford to be bold in the beginning!

He added that “having a deep expertise in some area helps you relate to people who are experts in their area,” underlining the importance of knowledge and empathy in the creative process. He went on to say that his own experience led him to be more compassionate with others. This is a powerful way to stir up the creative process: connecting with people through expertise and compassion.

7. Look for Feedback

Ryan also mentioned that startups should “find conversations that are related to their brand on social media, join them, build a following and look for feedback”. You can then judge which ideas are creative based on people’s reactions and start to shape your own services to what excites and interests them.

For example, he gave an interesting case in which VaynerMedia helped with the marketing of the fast-food company, Sonic Drive-in, where they simply marketed the ice used in their soft drinks, as ‘the best ice’. At first glance, this idea doesn’t seem very exciting or creative, but it garnered huge levels of engagement on social media from people who wanted to share their opinion on the ice, both positive and negative.

This goes to show that even if you don’t think your idea is creative, by simply putting it out there, you will know if other people think it is.

8. Be Different

Charlotte mentioned how the watch brand, Festina, used data to create an interesting, original package. They saw that most watch packaging was very similar and decided to package their watch in water, to showcase its waterproof quality. This is one example of how gathering data from your competitors, can inspire the creative process.

Arjun Singh also spoke of a creative marketing campaign he did with Monese, a company building the world's most inclusive banking service. To coincide with the launch of the SpaceX Falcon Heavy, he helped launch the world’s first ‘interplanetary banking service’. Users could register their interest, and in the process Monese highlighted its inclusive approach with the first Martian service. They even tweeted Elon Musk to get extra attention and all-in-all, the marketing campaign cost nothing. You don’t need to be like your competitors to succeed, forge your own path and don’t be afraid to think differently.   

9. Use Data for Creative Insight

“Dig into the data, and find those insights,” was another great tip from Arjun. Seemingly un-creative and technical, data is in fact, very important in providing useful insight and validating your creative theories. Don’t neglect customer insight.

Arjun spoke of customers who reported feeling “joyful” when eating Cadbury’s chocolate. This insight, alongside other customer data, led to the famous Gorilla advert, which is widely known within the marketing and advertising industry. Startups can use the same mindset for their own insight.

10. Stay ahead of the pack

Lastly, Ryan pointed out that if you want to think more creatively then you have to stay ahead of the pack.

This means downloading the newest apps relevant to your business and using them. Not only was he referring to new social apps such as Vero, but also using Instagram/Facebook live more, and trying out all the new products that are developed within the current social media networks.

“It’s important to adopt new functionality on platforms - play with them nice and early. Don’t be afraid of the stuff you don’t know how to do yet”, said Ryan.

If you would like a complete re-cap of the event, head to our Facebook page @CEWComms to see the full Facebook Live video.