Adapt and Embrace Change
When I think about my approach to the work, I can’t help but think about the constant shifts creatives face each day. There’s the increasingly fractured media landscape. Ever-changing social platforms. The rise of eCommerce. And constant streams of new data. Then there are the challenges that arise from the need for agencies to deliver speed, quality, and value with their work. Couple all of those things with the rise in demand for personalization from customers, and you’ve got a lot to consider before a brainstorm even begins. This brings me to one of the first things I try and keep in mind.
“Advertising is what you do when you can’t go see somebody. That’s all it is.” -Fairfax Cone
This statement sounds pretty obvious on the surface, but with all the things we have to take into account, sometimes it’s easy to forget about the person on the receiving end of that email, Instagram story, or piece of video content we create. It reminds me to think about our ideas as if we’re sitting there with someone, having a conversation, and trying to figure out the right way to make a message relevant for them in the moment. If we’re too focused on all the other things that go into making the work, it can result in an irrelevant or inauthentic message that can prevent the work from being impactful.
Continue to Learn and Listen
Cone’s quote also makes me think about the latest approaches to innovation, data, and personalization. What are the latest technologies and digital applications that can help us have a better one on one experience with a customer? What are the latest trends, ideas, and design techniques that might stop a thumb? And how do we make it all meaningful for the person on the receiving end of our work? Good questions with lots of different answers. For me, it boils down to a willingness to keep learning and understanding all the different tools we now have at our disposal. Staying up to date on pop culture, movies and other forms of content. And stretching outside of my comfort zone to take in viewpoints that go beyond my own creative biases and my own bubble.
The second part of my approach doesn’t come from a renowned ad vet. Instead, it comes from a far less likely source. Bruce Lee.
Be Flexible in Your Approach
Many years ago, I stumbled across a video where Lee talks about an idea he called “Being Water.” It’s the concept of being flexible in your approach so that you can react and adapt to whatever the situation brings. That’s pretty applicable to the world of an advertising creative.
From my perspective, I’ve interpreted Lee’s idea of “Being water” to mean learning and evolving with all of our industry’s changes. Being able and willing to fill a gap in information or a process in the moment. To accept ambiguity sometimes. And to push yourself to morph to the needs and challenges of whatever the job entails.
“Being water” is especially important in delivering on what clients need today to succeed across our entire industry. And that’s growth delivered through a combination of innovation, agility, quality and value. It requires flexibility on a new scale, not just from creatives, but everyone that’s a part of the work. And it means we have to be open to a constant state of change.
So the next time you find yourself facing a tough project or trying to decipher the worthiness of a new trend, remember the words of Fairfax and Bruce. Don’t let the demands and needs of the work dilute its relevance. And whatever our industry throws at you in the future, be water.