One of the most overused terms in any field of work is 'creativity'. In brand marketing, it's overused to the point of being abused, yet no one has had enough. Let's understand the term in its most accurate form first. Creativity is generally referred to as the process of generating new ideas and finding new expressions. However, it rests on two key parameters: for something to be creative, it needs to be original and expressive.
When you deploy this theory into today’s world of brand marketing, the canvas widens for your expressions, and more importantly, it’s at the mercy of the world’s subjectivity. That’s the thing about creativity; it’s intangible. What’s creative to a mind that knows average might not be attractive to a well-exposed counterpart who consumes and knows much more. So while your dashboards can tell you what’s liked more or ‘performed better, it doesn’t necessarily clarify the creativity metric. It can’t.
The fact that creativity is immeasurable doesn’t mean it’s undoable. On the contrary, brand marketing cannot do without it. Especially in today’s crowded digital era that has thrown multiple platforms at a brand’s disposal, being creative is the least one needs to do. To understand why creativity works, one needs to focus on what one gains from it. There are three apparent returns, which are enough for you to imbibe a culture of creativity in your regimes of brand marketing.
Creativity triggers emotions, and you control them. A simple story of your last weekend’s blind date can generate smiles and emotional sighs on two occasions. It just depends on the way you tell the story. If your story stresses the beautiful location, great food and sparkling chandeliers, then it’s gorgeous. But if the same story speaks about how you didn’t connect with the date and hardly had meaningful conversations, it’s a story of you failing to find love again. It’s a sad one.
Creativity in brand marketing creates room for emotions. And your narrative decides the reaction.
Hence when Ceat Tyres came up with their campaign on road safety- ‘For the game called Road’ - it spoke to us about how Indians are the most insensible tribe on roads—not knowing how to cross junctions or abide by the traffic rules. But we laughed along even though we were laughing at ourselves. Marketing, at its core, is interacting with people. And emotions connect. Add sentiment to creativity, no matter what’s the kind. It will stick.
Creativity that’s collective is highly valued.
Earlier, one would restrict the term ‘creative’ to artists alone. Creativity was the unit of evaluating art like visual arts, music, architecture, or literature. But since the era of brand marketing, creativity applies to marketers no less. Creativity is no more a product. However, creativity in processes and interactions can aid path-breaking results.
Think about the food industry, and then think about Subway. Generally, you walk into a restaurant, check the menu, choose what’s there and ask for the dish. And then, there is Subway, which enrols people in the process of brand-making. We are delightfully adding veggies and meat of our choice, choosing the sauces & loaves of bread at the counter—almost an Ikea Effect in play. The brand differentiator for Subway isn’t a marketing idea but a service-oriented creative brilliance. It is a classic example of the creativity that has the brand and the consumer hand in hand.
Creativity, if contextual, flourishes!
Timeliness is the key to most marketing expressions. You can’t sell me red roses on the day of my breakup. Creativity without context is often ignored. On the other hand, making the most of the context can create an industry benchmark, a breakthrough. You need to be creative. Tear those rose petals, put them in a rose wine sangria and serve it to me, cold, on the day of my breakup, and I will drink my sadness happily.
India's most extensive retail sales period is ahead of the festive period starting September onwards. So, creative marketing ideas like 'The Great Indian Shopping Festival' and 'Big Billion Days' have become brand phenomena only because of the context in which they appear – in September when consumers are looking to buy, finding reasons to spend.
So next time you wonder why does brand marketing needs a culture of creativity? Know that there is no other way.
The author is chief director – creative and business, DViO Digital