Getting Creative at Work May Be the Best Use of Your Time Today

Better. Faster. Cheaper.

Those are the siren calls of managers today — always on the lookout for ways to make their workers more productive.

What if you discovered that your teams would actually gain productivity by taking the time out of their day to be creative? While carving out time for creativity may feel like a waste of time upfront, you may be surprised to find that the results of making this space will be far-reaching. The daily grind and immediate needs of others don’t leave a lot of time for thinking outside the box, but you’ll see that scheduling time for creativity is a critical ingredient for high-performing individuals and teams.

Small Investment, Big Rewards

Getting creative doesn’t mean you need to pull out the fingerpaints and scissors in your common room.

It just means that you should offer your team members a variety of ways to choose their own path when it comes to specific tasks, brainstorm new ideas (and implement them!) or look for ways to help others. Taking as little as 90 minutes every week two weeks gives people the time and space to unleash their great ideas and helps them work smarter — not harder. This small investment can pay off with big rewards. Even if you don’t implement every idea, your team will be excited to get together and share their thoughts and suggestions and know that they’re being actively listened to.

Creativity Takes Many Forms

Brainstorming is an easy way to build camaraderie within a team and also generate some amazing ideas, but what are some other ways to bring creativity into the workplace?

These tips can help you get started on a productive time together.

  • Create effective work groups. It’s important to ensure that your teams are well-balanced when creativity is your goal. If you have one individual who tends to overpower the conversation, it can be tough for others to join in on the fun.
  • Make it challenging. Consider asking your teams to solve a unique challenge — maybe one that’s not even related to your current situation, but designed to help people come together around a common goal.
  • Give them space. Not physical space, mental space! If individuals are so concerned about daily tasks that they’re unable to devote the mental capacity to the project, you’re not going to reap the benefit you might expect.
  • Allow freedom to choose. If you’re offering a specific work opportunity that needs to be overcome, don’t get too tied down in the details of how it needs to happen. Ask that teams consider the “Blue Sky” approach, where there are no boundaries, no limitations (systems or individuals) and just go for it. The sky’s the limit!

Perhaps the most important thing to remind your teams going into a creative space is that all judgment should be suspended.

There are no bad ideas. Every individual deserves to have their idea or direction fully listened to. Don’t evaluate ideas before their time or you will interrupt the flow of information that is what brings true creativity to light. After a few sessions, you may be surprised to find that your teams are excited — and not reluctant — to join in on the fun.

With luck, this openness, creativity, and conversation will begin to flow throughout your teams on a more regular basis. As people come to realize that others will listen, they are more likely to share without fear. Let your creativity free and reap the rewards!

Four Savvy Strategies for Crafting Unforgettable Content (Part 2)

Have you hit a slow spot in your print or online marketing? Need a boost to garner fresh vision? In this three-part series, we’ll examine hands-on tools to enliven imagination. Today, we’ll focus on part two of this question: How do you write content that commands attention or sticks with people for months to come? Last week, we discussed “matching the media and the message.” Today we’ll consider two more simple strategies.

2. Saturate the Senses

One way to arouse interest is appealing to the senses. Strive to write content that paints a strong scene in your reader’s mind. Make your message easy to pull from memory by tying it to a taste, sight, smell, sound, story, or a triggering word association.

KIT KAT chocolate bars nailed this in 2007, celebrating the simple delights of candy and coffee. Known for its “break me off a piece of the KIT KAT bar” slogan, the company paired an image of coffee, a KIT KAT, and these words: “A break’s best friend.” Ad copy extolled the joy of life’s small rewards, so blending coffee and KIT KATs was like “getting two breaks in one.”

KIT KAT radio ads were perfectly timed during the listener’s morning commute or lunch breaks, and the word association of coffee breaks and chocolate made mouths water. After twelve months, KIT KAT experienced a double-digit sales growth and received national recognition for years to come.

McDonald’s awakened appetites through a short message paired with romantic, artful visuals. During summer months when nightlife blossoms, the company wanted to remind customers that late night is a great time for a snack, and McDonald’s was now open past midnight. Ads featured blurred, out-of-focus points of light, glowing together to depict a Big Mac, sundae, and crispy fries. Like a dreamy Eiffel Tower scene, the images reinforced two simple words: “Open Late.”

As you look to saturate their senses with your own hard-hitting content, here are some tips to consider:

  • Use words that show, don’t tell. Be as vivid and descriptive as possible, allowing them to vicariously experience your product or its benefits, rather than just “hearing” about these advantages.
  • Paint a picture. Use adjectives that include savory details of sights, smells, and sounds to draw them in.
  • Give specific, concrete advice. Move from vague concepts to helpful takeaways.
  • Wrap any message you can in an upbeat, moving, or suspenseful story.
  1. Coin a Contagious Catchphrase

“Just do it.”

“Breakfast of champions.”

“Melts in your mouth, not in your hands.”

“Finger-lickin’ good.”

Like that jingle that rattles around your brain for months, a sticky slogan is a powerful way to influence customers. Why do great slogans matter? Because taglines are memorable, they differentiate the brand, and they stay relevant over a long period of time. Slogans offer a concise phrase or idea people will immediately associate with your product.

As you shape your own contagious catchphrase, consider questions like this:

  • What is your product about?
  • Can you encapsulate your message into a memorable phrase or title?
  • What unique perspective or technique does your brand offer?
  • What need or concern can you address? What real-life problem can your product solve?
  • Is there a “Eureka” factor you can highlight? What hard-hitting verbs, colorful adjectives, or real-life situations best capture these “Aha!” insights?

Once you’ve settled on a memorable phrase, feature it prominently, consistently, and with fantastic visuals to bring it to life!

Looking for more motivation to keep your copy fresh? Join us again soon as we discuss tips and tricks for producing content that counts.

4 Savvy Strategies for Crafting Unforgettable Content (Part 1)

In the age of visual brilliance and short-lived attention spans, sometimes we wonder if content really counts. But where would vibrant graphics or sensational social media campaigns be without dynamic copy? Nowhere! Like Batman without Robin, like brawn with no brains, hard copy is fundamental to your success.

So, how do you write content that commands attention? How do you write copy that moves a reader and compels them to action? In this three-part series, you’ll discover four practical strategies for writing fun, dynamic, and memorable content.

1. Matching the Media and the Message

L.L. Bean is an outdoor clothing and recreational equipment retailer with this brand message: the outside is in everything we make. L.L. Bean believes the more time spent outside together the better, and they design products to enhance that experience. In one of 2017’s most intriguing print campaigns, L.L. Bean brought its “Outsider” concept to life with a print ad that could only be read outdoors. The copy, if read indoors, appeared almost blank except for these words sprinkled across the page: “Just bring this outside.” Readers who complied saw the full text emerge (thanks to photochromic ink, which changes color after exposure to sunlight) to reveal a full ad looking something like this:

“Welcome to the outside

Where there are no strangers

Where days have names like beach, snow, and bluebird

Where the smell of the campfire means you’re in the right place

You don’t need a passport to come here, an invitation to play here, or a membership to belong here

Just step outside your door and you’ve arrived . . .

It doesn’t matter where you come from

Only that you come here often

Wherever you are, join us

Because on the inside, we’re all outsiders

And if it’s outside, we’re in.”

The text concluded with an L.L. Bean logo emblazoned across the bottom, and the “Outside” brand experience was one a reader could never forget!

Another memorable media and message combo was produced by Kentucky for Kentucky, the organization that unofficially promotes the state of Kentucky. This group placed a hilarious full-page ad in Oxford American with a brazen typo at the top:

“We speak you’re language.”

The accompanying copy explained: “We know. It’s ‘your’ not ‘you’re.’ We just figured that a typo would be the best way for our ad to stand out in a fine publication like Oxford American magazine. But nice catch anyway, William Faulkner.”

Oxford American, a quarterly literary magazine dedicated to featuring the best of Southern writing, was an iconic medium for this downhome message. Kentucky for Kentucky’s brand identity (irreverence and a commitment to upending traditional Kentucky stereotypes) preached volumes through this boorish grammar breach, drawing attention like a straight-up ad never would. Kentucky for Kentucky partner Whit Hiler was pleased with the result: “I think typos can be a good thing . . . It’s so perfect for that particular magazine.”

Looking for more inspiration to up your creativity quotient? Join us again soon for examples, tricks, and tips to kick your content into high gear.