Stuck in the middle

Rejecting mediocrity is the start of the road to something greater, but what next? Joe Deeks explains how to light a candle instead of cursing the darkness

Rejecting mediocrity is the start of the road to something greater, but what next? Joe Deeks explains how to light a candle instead of cursing the darkness

We are surrounded by mediocrity. Countries are run by people who aren’t good enough and institutions seem stagnant.

I’m convinced that the frustration this has caused is responsible for the endless cycle of political and cultural disorder we find ourselves in.

“But this is supposed to be a fun blog post about creativity, not a bloody party political broadcast!”, I can hear my dad shout.

Bear with me, father.

We’re numb to the average; run-of-the-mill ideas that tick a box, that don’t push boundaries.

Yet we talk about the things that excite us. Ideas that transcend their medium. Things that make us feel involved.

So why do we settle for ideas that do none of these?

Making the cut

Often, we read a brief and think the first idea that pops into our head is the best one. It’s something to build on, we tell ourselves.

The ‘light bulb moment’ is built into our psyche. We see it literally in cartoons.

We hear about famous inventors it happened to. “Aha!”, the scientist cries. “I’ve got it!”, says the mathematician.

How can we escape this mindset? I recently attended a creativity training session at D&AD with Patrick Collister, former ECD of Ogilvy and Google.

One of the things I learned was how to self-test my own ideas; how to know when something just won’t cut it, or take something and make it even better.

Giving chaos a framework

We think creativity is chaotic. Minds spinning until we hit upon something.

Yet by forcing things through a process, whatever process that may be, we will end up with something better by the end.

In our industry, chaos can have a framework.

That framework can be as simple as three steps:

  1. Identify the audience, and the brand’s role: Who are we speaking to? What are we doing for them?
  2. Translate the brief’s message for the audience: How can we explain it in an engaging way? 
  3. Show how that looks creatively: How can we make our audience take notice of our message?

Your first idea will be something plenty of other people can think of. That’s not good enough.

Take the emotion out of it, be harsh on yourself and work through a process to come up with something better.

Now that’s a radical idea.

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