The creative industry might be flooded with marketing speak, but there’s one buzzword worth adding to your glossary – brave. When it comes to ideas, Lydia Pang (Creative Director at Refinery29) reckons ‘brave’ is the adjective we should all be striving for. How? Get out of your comfort zone, leave average behind and read on for her guide on what it takes to do it. If you have your sights set on New Blood Awards glory, listen up.
I feel like creativity is such a weird word now, I don’t know what it means. But maybe that’s good? Maybe being brave means challenging our very understanding of creativity. The moment you feel comfortable with your creative output, in my opinion, you cease to innovate. You gotta really feel the fear to know you’re onto something good. You gotta get that scary anxious belly flip feeling, the one that feels like you’re sweating and potentially pissing a few people off. We have to have the energy and tools to challenge the daily and ask the uncomfortable questions. Maybe that’s it now, maybe being brave when it comes to creativity is rejecting what you thought you knew, and asking the sweaty questions.
"Where do bold ideas come from? I wish this had a sexy answer. In my experience it comes from many many many minds, stood together staring at the same north star."
The key is in collaboration, which is why being comfortable with your team is instrumental to landing those big, ballsy game-changing ideas. And it’s hard. Humans are competitive, territorial, sometimes burnt out, rushing to pilates – but if you can harness a group of hungry creatives with diverse expertise, you can strike concept gold. The days of the individual artist, the single crowned author ego, in my opinion, are done. And thank god, because that was exhausting and fucking stupid. The power to dream lies in the strength of the collective. Sure, one person might bring a spark, but you need someone to challenge it to be better. To make someone stop and feel something, it takes a village.
Get out of your comfort zone and push that brief.
Loosen up and have fun with it. I know this might be hard at 9pm on a Tuesday whilst being ridden by a deadline, craned over Ramen and rejected ideas, but stay with me. I did time in advertising too, and it does not have to be this way. My boss, ECD, co-founder of R29 (and all round effervescent spirit), Piera Gelardi starts every brainstorm with an improv warm up. Being a gothy Brit I initially found this very exposing and awkward. But something quite incredible happened. As Piera puts it, ‘play creates trust’. It gets us out of our heads, and it levels the playing field. The key is to find and lose yourself. If you want to push the brief you need to push beyond your normal context. So instead of wasting hours crumpled in a ball of solitude, get off your arse.
You have to constantly evolve and question your frame of reference.
I’m a big believer that the more minds the better, so I rely on collaboration to fuel and push me. I don’t ideate in a vacuum, I test my ideas with craft, channel and category experts. So change your frame of reference, through contexts or references or collaborators. Invite unexpected minds into the conversation for their unique perspective. I let an idea be fluid and try not to hide in my own ego if it changes. If I tell my Dad about a project (he’s a civil engineer) I get a very different answer than when I speak to my best friend (Book Editor). And if I ask my boyfriend (Software developer) the whole concept begins to look startlingly different. It’s also great to explain ideas, it helps to get to the nucleus of what it actually is when you’re forced to explain to lots of different types of people.
"If you believe something and know it in your gut then fucking do it, get it out there, show the world, be brave."
Know when you're being brave, and when you're just trying too hard.
I think this is a delicate combination of ‘who gives a fuck just do your thing anyway’, and ‘read the room’. I wholeheartedly believe one can never try too hard, if you believe something and know it in your gut then fucking do it, get it out there, show the world, be brave. But then stop, take stock of your experience, listen to the feedback. Creativity is a platform for dialogue, more than ever before. If your shit starts discussions, that’s something to analyse and iterate from. But it takes a brave person to put something out there, and it takes an even braver person to observe and embrace failure, to thrive off it. If you’ve listened, next time you’ll hit the right note.
Brave ideas also solve your client problems.
A brave client idea isn't one enormous TV ad, with some lovely stills popped on the instagram, anymore. It’s not one and done. Now it comes down to trust, storytelling, meaningful partnerships and content strategy that can last beyond a 30 second spot. An idea has to gain momentum at relevant points throughout a cultural calendar. We can stand the consumer inside the heartbeat of a brand with experiential, and then spark debate and dialogue on social. It’s about starting a conversation, not just jumping on one. And it’s about how to continue that meaningful dialogue with the consumer after your big brave idea.
What are we doing if we’re not being brave?
Littering the internet with average ideas, that’s depressing isn't it? Don’t get me wrong, I’ve put out a few bad eggs (part of the game isnt it), but the ambition and goal to be brave is always there. It has to be.