Despite what you may have been told – idea generation is far from a formal thing – miles from a black box of inspiration, realization or genius. It’s just bloody hard work and very scary. It’s late nights and nervous presentations; checking sanity alongside evolution, scrapping the dull, the inflexible, smoothing the rough and moulding the soft. Its a craft.
At its best it’s all of us hands dirty, at its worse its one of us, sheets of A3 and buckets loads of Coke, weeping into our pencil cases.
Client requirements, agency briefing, wrangling positioning, all have their place in this process, but mostly it’s down to intolerant alliance, a few of us bouncing brains and nurturing waffle.
This drive to idea tends to stop by a few service stations;
Please wait will we connect you…
Our requirement for the idea to connect with its audience is challenging. Subjectivity, culture, and just plain personalities always get in the way. “I know it when you see it”, is a pretty standard approach. But connection tends to be a different thing, healthy doses of empathy and often audience hugging are needed.Seeking connection reminds me of a stand up gig the other day. A female comedian expressing naïve mystery about her husband’s excessive use of Original Source Mint & Tea Tree shampoo. Leaving half the audience completely mystified and the other half aching with connection. Genius. A true connection, no where near big enough for one of our tasks – but a pretty good demonstration?
We seek whoppers
Once we have stumbled across a wrapper for a brand, its task and audience understanding it all gets a little bit more practical. How can it work in a sales conversation, ad land, could it stretch enough to be experiential, what about a direct mail campaign. A huge expectation from something we often struggle to define. We know it’s wrong when it fails to live in these channels but are often not sure how right it needs to be – or what amount of forcing the idea is allowed before its bin fodder.
Nice and tight
Despite needing to stretch and connect the damn thing also needs to be compact enough to be a saleable, rather than a sprawl of desperation to meet the previous two. This is thesaurus land for many, finding encompassing words to reduce down the flabbiness, and its often this stage that benefits from the creative team honing it as part of the creative process. Encapsulation in visual concept can at times save our bacon.
Finally when something presents itself, and checks the above criteria you allow yourself a moment to exhale. In the meantime the next mountain appears on the horizon; how to make this big thing live in the here and now. Its ridiculous – like having a baby, marvelling for 2 seconds and expecting it to start fitting the kitchen – the little fella keeps swallowing all the Allen keys.
It’s a far from linear journey and this week has seen us arrive at a place that we should have started from more than once.
I am sure there are a few more idea assessments and I am going to endeavor to give this a little more time, and perhaps stop distracting myself from my wodge of A3 paper and scribbles I have in front of me.