There was a time when creativity was the forte of a select few. The exclusive club that along with talent had the resilience to tackle the relentless road blocks one had to face when pursuing creativity. Suffice to say, it was not easy. It was a landscape defined by scarcity - of validation, support, resources and opportunity.
In just this last decade however, a remarkable change took place in fast forward mode. Before we knew it, technology and the internet evolved to enable easy, free access to resources like never before. The knowledge and tools required to live up to our full creative potential and to monetise it has literally been brought to our fingertips. One no longer needs to make difficult life choices just to pursue creativity. It can be done in their own time, from their own space, and at any age. It often even costs close to nothing.
The coronavirus led lock-downs brought this opportunity overload to the limelight. An unprecedented number of people picked up or started to share their creative skills - something they always wanted to do or never thought they would. Countless posts across social media platforms in the last three months alone sufficiently showcase this. The growing number of new pages/channels/accounts on various apps showcasing individual talent makes you wonder, is everyone creative today? And what does this mean for brand communications?
With the traditional construct broken, things have shifted from a system that relied on the approval of a select few to be published or broadcast to a system driven by individual agency - engaging one-on-one with her/his audience. Providing creators with instant, LIVE, ruthless yet reliable feedback because it comes from a large and varied audience instead of the well-meaning but subjective advice of a few gatekeepers.
This freedom from constraints provides the perfect breeding ground for bold, original thinking and execution. We are too spoilt for anything unoriginal and the credit often finds its own way to the original source of inspiration. It takes minutes for the internet to unearth the truth. Few things knock you over in this scroll-happy universe like in-authenticity and few things win you over like taking a stand for humanity and the planet. If resilience was the necessary attribute to sustain oneself before, today authenticity and social awareness seem to be key.
This new ecosystem of creativity has also led to generosity - in the exchange of ideas and skills and seeking of collaborations. The urge to outshine each other has been replaced with the motivation to come together to make a difference together.
The creative culture in the world today is indeed defined by abundance - the opposite of what it was earlier.
There is of course the flip side of all of this: everyone being (or trying to be) creative results in a LOT of noise. It has never been more challenging to make an impression. But good news! The audience also has the facility to seek out what they care about, engage with it and promote it. Here’s where brands could cash in. The measure of a good idea perhaps now lies in how effectively it makes the desired audience want to seek us out and, even better, collaborate with us. This demands for a focus on meaningful ideation – where we make a concerted effort to include providing a value of some sort that our audience seeks into our ideas. While demonstrating social awareness and authenticity – as that seems to be the order of the day and indeed the future.
These are times when everyone has a personal creative showcase. These are times when creativity is needed more than ever before.
The author is a brand strategist with a career spanning close to 15 years across agencies in Mumbai and Colombo.