Like, any advertising agency one of the biggest challenges we face, is to keep our creative ideas fresh. Anyone that works in the industry will know that having to come up with a creative idea on cue can at times result in stale thoughts and over-killed clichés.

There have been plenty of times where I turn up to work enthusiastic to crack the creative idea for a pitch, but unfortunately to my dislike, its seems as though my muse decided to take a sickie today… So what then?

The process of ideation or creative conceptualisation is unique to every individual and consequently particular to every agency out there. Here at Circuit9, our Ideas Shop is space where the team gathers to exchange ideas and once and for all annihilate the dreaded creative block.

Here are some of the techniques we practice to get our creative juices going:

  1. One Brain is Better than Two… or at least at first.

    Most people jump to the conclusion that brainstorming in groups will provide a much more dynamic environment and as a result generate more creative ideas in less amount of time. Nevertheless, no matter how closely-knit you are to your pals at work, group brainstorming at an initial stage can prove to be counterproductive.

    The way creative ideas emerge is a complex process of random associations that occur in our brains, each unique and influenced by our knowledge and experiences. Therefore, these random connections that will lead to an epiphany and hopefully a valuable creative idea should not be interrupted nor criticized by anyone else at its initial stage of development. It’s hard enough already to come up with something semi-useful, no matter how silly the thought, don’t let others criticism and smash it, it could prove to be useful later on.

    Use some alone time to jot down that initial spark of genius. Assimilate it. Let it sink.

  2. The More the Merrier

    Now that you have taken some time to pass the auto-criticism test, build your confidence and self-justified your creative idea, reach to others. The idea is there, you have thought long and hard and consequently you won’t go down without a fight. Remember to be relaxed and open-minded. This is not an individual attack. You and your team are working for the same purpose: to come up with a valuable creative idea.

    One of two things can happen:

    • After presenting your creative idea with as much confidence as possible, they won’t like it and will shut it down. Relax. Use this as en exercise to challenge your colleagues’ own creative ideas. Use their input as a tool for improvement. Try and work on the initial thought and develop it into something new based on their criticism. Even if the end result does not resemble your initial creative idea, credit goes to you for planting the creative seed in their minds.
    • This creative idea that you have over-analysed is making you feel reluctant to share it with others. Sometimes all you need is a pat on the back. Your team will remind you of why you are good at your job and sometimes that’s all you need to tackle it will all your mighty force.
  3. When The Eyes Meet The Brain

    Creative people tend to be visual people by nature, so use that to your advantage. At the initial stage of developing a creative idea, use as much visual stimuli as possible. It may seem to be cluttering your brain at first, but believe me it will fit. Use visual prompt tools like Google images, Pinterest, The Fancy or Facebook Visual Statements. Engaging your senses in the process will prompt creative alter ego to surface. Make a mood board, or a collage or even a PowerPoint with all the visuals you have selected. Leave it on your desk and come back to it later. Whenever you phase out of the other work your doing you’ll have the visual there… and magic may happen there and then!

  4. The Three I’s: Imitation, Influence, Inspiration

    One thing that creative people do not like to admit is that many of their best creative ideas are the brother and sister of another great creative idea out there. Regardless of whether we are aware of it or not, every creative idea that is born was influenced by some remote piece of information collected from somewhere else. So lets stop lying to ourselves and embrace the process. There is no shame is studying what others in the industry are doing. Collect their work, analyse it, adapt it, change it, change it again, scrap the idea, start over, take a different approach, give your own twist, and Voila! A creative idea is born.

  5. Take Temporary Leave

    When you think you’ve exhausted all creative resources and you feel saturated and reached creative burnout, just let it go for a while, some things can’t be forced. I like to shift work between multiple projects, keeping me engaged and allowing me some breathing space between them. Some of us in the office like to walk, take a coffee brake, play loud electronic music or even play Candy Crush! Talk about a trivial topic like your favourite pair of pyjamas, the lifecycle of a butterfly or sing supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. Whatever does it for you, just relax your mind and let it start fresh.

There is of course no right way or wrong way of developing creative ideas, but we all understand how exasperating it is when our paycheck relies on our ability and consistency in doing so. At Circuit9 we use our Ideas Shop to experiment with different techniques. No matter how weird or bizarre these may be, as long as the creative idea arises, everything counts!

Hopefully these exercises will free your brain from all the unnecessary clutter and help you reach that much treasured ‘Aha!’ moment..