Creative inspiration is everywhere.

Collecting it is easier than ever. I love it as much as the next person through blogging, bookmarking, Pinterest and Twitter. It’s fun and addictive, yet I can’t help but wonder if all this curating is actually fostering imitation and hampering creativity in our industry.

“How can we promote creativity in a world that loves curating?”

Creative ideas Messy Design animation

Here are my 6 tips for keeping creativity on track:

1. Always have a creative brief first

You see an inspiring piece of work on a blog and decide you’d like to do something similar before you’ve even considered the brief. Or, a client shows you something they like before the strategy has been set. Hold the search for creative inspiration until you have a clear brief.

2. Source inspiration, not finished ideas

Rather than looking at what the competition has done straight away, collect generic reference inspiration to create a mood board, with photography styles, colours, words, textures, architecture, landscapes… anything on brief that can be leveraged to create something truly different.

3. “Because I like it” is not a rationale

Current culture is to like or dislike everything on the fly. Liking something and pinning it to Pinterest, adding it to your tumblr page or tweeting about it doesn’t mean that it will be effective for your audience. Rather than saying, “I like it”, ask yourself, “Why would they like it?”

4. Brains, not just blogs

Step away from the computer for inspiration; Design thinking, mind maps, brainstorming, heck even grabbing a cup of coffee with your team can really help. For example, I’ve yelled out to the team here a couple of times while writing this just to bounce ideas around.

5. Reverse briefing

Look at a creative piece and ask yourself “What was the business problem?” “Who is the audience?” and “What were the reasons for them to believe?” Reverse briefing helps you recognise creative strategies and makes it easier to come up with fresh ideas quickly.

6. Look differently

The one big idea is not always the first thing that pops into your head. If you’ve been looking at one approach for too long, print it out, stick it on the wall and ask yourself, “How can I tackle this from a different angle?”

Messy Design has always been about creating something different. We seek out that unique point of difference for our clients and ensure it shines through in our work.

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