Opinion: Re-invent the creative act

Creativity should not be controlled but channelised, says the author

Feb 07, 2017 11:11:00 AM | Article | Dinesh Swamy

In my earlier years, I was very fascinated about the title ‘creative director’. I was clear in my head that nothing is permanent and I have to be well equipped for the evolving nature of interactive advertising.
Creativity shouldn’t be controlled. Rather, it should be channelised. That’s an art. Creative act is a responsibility, where the end user has to experience the ideas. I like to use the principle of interactivity because it is tangible; it makes you accountable and above all, it can be measured.
Today, most of our surroundings continue with the past when it comes to creativity. It still remains as a creative department. It constitutes of people who get to think of an idea, map them to the brand identity and demonstrate a couple of different variations depending upon the touch points and then dust it off their hands.
It’s time to change this behaviour to survive in the new world. We just have to merge ourselves with the ever-changing domains. Interactive experiences are ruling over passive mediums. Traditional forms come with their own challenges - who is watching it, what are their interests and how can you engage them with a seamless platform that changes behavior.
Along with understanding the brief, driving campaigns, visual designs and static/video content, the role of the CD has gone deeper with insights, personalisation, user experience (UX), analytics & data science. It all starts with the customer experience at the core one has to team up with marketing and business goals by stretching and investing time for exploring new skill sets. So, here are 5 linear techniques that creativity is pillared on, and today creative processes cannot ignore them.
Real-time insights: We have our patterns to source out our insights.
Real time listening gives insights, which have validation from the horse’s mouth. Its spontaneity and conversational nature open doors to the realms of customer behavior. The trick is to use the insights, create a unique engagement idea and add technology to enrich the experience.
For example, our listening data on personal hygiene reveals that people carry their phones for music while bathing. Imagine a geyser brand - to be disruptive, here we have a chance to sell the experience of bathing. Why not make a geyser with an inbuilt speaker connected to your mobile, music that can add on to a user's experience of bathing.
Data makes conversation meaningful: Data stimulates new meaning to our ideas. It gives strong leads, which can have specific impact catered to the brand objectives. We often gamble around the TG (target group). We spend time and energy and we realise later that the TG is not yet present. For instance, deep analysis can surprise us with the data that men are accessing and consuming content more than women on a portal for newborn babies for knowledge. The strategy and communication approach will change; it will be contextually related, and the engagement rate will go high as a result of relevancy. 
Using technology for useful personalisation: Not to forget, humans love their space. Every domain has to be customised, empowering them with technology that’s entertaining, emotional or useful. Imagine a suitcase brand trying to sell how durable they are. Everyone says that. How do we differentiate? Often at the airport, we keep looking and waiting for our baggage. For example, if a brand puts a chip that you can track it on your mobile, it becomes more convenient for people to track their luggage bags with a case.
Customer experience at the core: Today, my approach towards designing has shifted from driving aesthetics to a rich experience to an interactive design that prompts action. We all know the basics of mapping consumer patterns, site map, UI and UX for any platform. What really matters, is how detailed the process is without being very technical and keeping the consumer experience in mind. In the event of a car breakdown, consumers can simply tap on a ‘car-breakdown’ button on the website/app, which will immediately, notify the roadside assistance team of the brand. The backend would be technical, but the front user experience will create the magic, enhancing the usefulness of the platform over its beauty.
In measuring creativity, our efforts and ideas have to measure up. We need to know what has worked and what did not. With communications via branded content films or social or media, we will be in a better position to plan which will be a combination of budget, ideas and execution. The beauty of measuring is to take the learnings. Exploring analytics needs patience; it gives sharp objectives, which in turn leads to customer acquisition and loyalty.
To sum it up, we follow one simple objective. We transform customer experience for our client’s brands. It’s very important for a creative professional to be flexible and adapt to the trends. The industry is in an experimental mode; everyone has a version of understanding the digital space, what works for the brand and what works for the consumer in doing so, a cultured diversity of ideas, adaptability to change and high agility of thoughts.
To be in the industry, we must ask ourselves a question and answer it honestly - ‘Am I digitally equipped to serve a brand by providing solutions which can create an impact and be monitored as well?’ If your answer is ‘yes’ then you must serve, if it’s a ‘no’, then you must learn.
(Dinesh Swamy is senior creative director, SapientRazorfish, India)