Ah, the Delicate Balance of Creative Tension

November 24, 2009by Dave Florin

Ah, the delicate balance of creative tension

I see a lot of communications out there that are either relevant to a target market or are creatively differentiated. I’ve chosen to block out those that are neither and focus on the real question: Why aren’t there enough communications that are both?

Sadly, all too often there is a winner or a loser somewhere along the way between creative curiosity and disciplined marketing thinking. This should not be a mutually exclusive proposition—one should build on the other. To be successful, there must be a “yes, and” type of relationship between creativity and discipline.

I’d like to quantify the amount someday, but I would be willing to bet that more than 85 percent of all communication efforts are sub-optimal because one of these two elements “won” at the expense of the other. That is far too high a number to be accepted. Far too many marketers are not marketing effectively, because when one wins over the other, the resulting idea is out of alignment.

Creating an environment that fosters the delicate balance of creative curiosity and marketing discipline is fundamentally critical to creating an environment where compelling work happens again and again. (The “again and again” part is important–it is business after all, not artistic expression.)

Creativity without discipline is too often misdirected and wasteful–what we refer to as “The Bright Shiny Object Trap”. “Hey, that’s cool” or “Wow, I haven’t seen that before” are not the only measures of success. On the flip side, look at all the work out there that is hitting all the rational points but without grabbing someone’s attention and motivating them. Marketing discipline without a compelling creative idea is likely to be relevant but uninspiring, and it won’t move anyone to take any action.

If you aren’t already, take a day and pay attention to every message that is trying to work its way into your world. What don’t you normally pay attention to? Why wouldn’t it normally get in? Chances are, there wasn’t any balance to the discipline/creativity tension along the way.

If your brand isn’t thinking with both sides of its brain, it’s time to catch your balance.

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