What do you do when your heart and mind are at odds? This is the question that plagues every business leader charged with making executive decisions when creative and strategic approaches seemingly misalign. Strategists generate plans from reason while creatives base ideas on inspiration — yet both are essential to progress.
Strategy is defined as “a plan of action designed to achieve a particular aim.” Creativity is defined as“the use of the imagination or original ideas, especially in the production of an artistic work.” The conflicts between the concepts arise in the definitions themselves. The secret is to carefully balance the two schools of thought with the following principles at heart:
Let the Data Drive Your Decisions
Apply scientific data to determine the best solutions. Great marketing demands more than artistic talent and unorthodox thinking; it necessitates careful analysis. Base your approach on historical information and market evaluation as well as creative intuition — and choose the approach that the facts support.
Avoid Needless Innovation
Visionary CEOs often value new ideas and alternative approaches, but leaders and marketers alike do not always need to think differently. Don’t fall into the trap of choosing creative solutions if there’s sufficient evidence to support the thesis that the tried and true will generate sufficient results.
Adapt Your Strategy to Your Situation
Recognize that different situations require different solutions. So, before you apply a proven approach, evaluate the current conditions to make sure it still applies. If it does not, employ creativity to adapt to the difference. Be flexible to pivot with market shifts and adjust your plans with new goals.
Get Creative to Get Noticed
Without some level of creativity, strategies can’t be successful, as brands need to stand out to attract attention. So, if a technical strategy seemingly lowers the bar for creativity, carefully evaluate your priorities and consider alternative ideas. Be sure to meet your audience’s creative demand as well as your strategic needs.
To quote a recent Harvard Business Review article, creative strategy “requires tools that can help identify surprising, creative breaks from conventional thinking. But it also requires tools for analyzing the competitive landscape, the dynamics threatening that landscape, and a company’s resources and competencies.” In the world of communications, strategies cannot be effectively executed without creativity, and creativity cannot efficiently deliver without a strategy. These two warring concepts go hand in hand — each playing a paradoxical yet pivotal role in every brand’s journey to audience engagement, revenue generation, and overall growth.