Creativity thrives under constraint. And with much of the world now adopting physical and social distancing norms, “constraint” is taking on new meaning. Business, now done at home, is anything but usual.
This is particularly true for creatives, whose craft is inspired — and facilitated — by going places, experiencing things, and co-creating in person. Now everything from ideation to production happens at home, in physical and social isolation. Despite the challenges of this “new normal,” many creatives are finding creativity to be the best remedy for cabin fever. They’re also seizing the moment as an unforeseen opportunity to rethink pre-pandemic values and processes.
I recently spoke to several agency leaders about how they’re adapting their approaches to client work, where they’re finding inspiration while working from home, and what advice they have for other creatives and brand marketers. These are their thoughts.
Treat this as a starting point for reinvention
“The situation is forcing us to think about our values and usual processes. We’re making time for experiences we never did before to inspire our creativity — online concerts, live-streamed art classes, virtual museum tours. For production, we’re shooting video on our phones at home, having talent turn their cameras on themselves, then giving them direction via text. It’s a little like film school these days; everyone is an actor, writer, and director. There’s a reframing and a reset that’s happening. This may be the pause that the industry needed.”
Let isolation ignite your imagination
“I always say that creativity needs resistance. These times are trying, yes, but they’re also when the true creative spirit comes out. My mom used to tell me, ‘If you get bored, it’s because you aren’t using your imagination.’ So I find that isolation forces me to use more of my imagination, and I think a lot of creatives feel the same. The silver lining is that we’re having to think about new ways to work and to execute work. I’m an eternal optimist, but I can already see this new thinking having a positive impact on the way we move forward.”
Embrace life ‘in beta’
“There’s something to be said about our human ability to adapt in times of crisis. When we come out the other end of this, we’ll be more versatile people, creators, and companies. The way we work will be more nimble, fluid, and multifaceted. Creatives now need to have a more holistic approach that is connected to the new reality. We like to say that we live perpetually ‘in beta,’ but the fact is, that’s never been truer than it is now.”
“This is the perfect time to pause, consider your positioning, and create a fresh vision of the future. Authenticity is critical and it requires a certain degree of bravery. Brands that try to talk about the front-line workers when they have nothing to do with the front-line workers is just a miss. We don't need brands to tell us how to feel. If a brand wasn’t funny before, then they shouldn't try to be funny now. We all feel like the world has utterly changed before our eyes, and it has, but you can't suddenly be a brand that you weren’t.”
Build nimble teams
“The ideation process has become more fluid and nonlinear with everyone working from home. To adapt, we’ve focused on building teams around briefs that are flexible, nimble, and represent multiple disciplines. Collaboration tools are also playing a critical new role in our process. Beyond providing a solution for not being face-to-face, these tools are helping our teams iteratively workshop ideas and move projects through creative and production at pace.”
Focus on what’s required to do great work: a strong process, not physical proximity
“As restrictions force more nimble and less super-produced content creation, people will begin to see it as a new way for brands to break through. User-generated content has always been big, but it’ll get more limelight as marketers put power in the hands of many, rather than a few. This shift will also help dispel the myth that being physically next to someone equates with good communication and creative ideation. It starts with a strong process of pushing for the best work, no matter if you’re across the office or the country or in your living room.”