Articles

How creativity can position you as a Thought Leader

SHORT READ

If you wish to position yourself as a progressive organisation or the thought leader in your sector, your brand must match your ambition.

 

It’s not enough to simply follow the conventions of the sector you’re in; one way or another you’ll end up looking or sounding like your competitors. You need to use creativity to develop a resonant and valuable brand. Why? Because creativity connects.

 

 

If your brand appears instantly more considered and coherent than your competitors, it’s a strong indicator that as a business, you value innovation and original thought. It demonstrates your intention to be different. You choose to stand out, not stand in.

Conversely, it’s incredibly difficult to claim you’re an industry frontrunner if your brand looks and sounds exactly like your closest competitors. Your audience won’t recognise who the copycats are, they’ll just see a sea of sameness.

It’s easy to recognise what makes one brand appear more creatively considered than another, but often difficult to articulate. It’s actually easier to describe the opposite; what makes a brand appear uncreative.

 

Take any industry and there are a plethora of cookie-cutter brands that are simply versions of each other. Some of these businesses will undoubtedly be copycats; most would claim they have a distinct USP and aren’t like their competitors — yet at some point the majority of their brands have fallen into conventions and stuck to them.

 

Tell tale signs of a lack of creativity include; the use of poorly chosen stock imagery; generic iconography; bland headlines that simply state facts; badly written copy that looks like an SEO exercise; graphic clichés e.g. data shown as white connected points on a dark blue background. The more you see these, the more obvious and all pervasive they become.

For a clear example of how a lack of creativity can infect an industry, look no further than than Corporate Memphis, an illustration style that’s been prevalent in the tech sector for over 5 years. What started out looking innovative, now looks tired. Choosing this illustration style today is the least creative option.

 

A warning though: creativity isn’t an off the shelf option, it’s a process, an approach and a commitment. It’s not simply making the decision to ‘look like IBM’ — or Apple, Monzo, BMW, etc. It’s taking the decision to work hard to find and develop an articulation that is unique to your business and resonant to your customers.

This requires approaching the entire branding process with a creative mindset. Leaving pre-conceptions to one side and trying your absolute best to avoid peeking over the fence at a competitor’s brand. Not deciding too quickly what is and isn’t right. And working with a branding agency who can unlock a creative solution.

 

Creativity isn’t a box to tick; it’s the process to achieve a great brand.

 

Here’s an example of a sector where creativity has been employed to differentiate the most simple and similar of products; the bottled water category.

The difference between one product and another is marginal; there are swathes of boring brands out there that are purely functional. But there’s also many very creative brands: Smart Water, Liquid Death, Essentia, Carton Water, Boxed Water, Voss, the list goes on. Each of these has used creativity to develop brands in an incredibly focussed category. 30 years ago, the amount of brand innovation coming from this one sector — with the absolute simplest product — could never have been predicted. And yet new brands are still finding creative ways to develop unique propositions that keep customer interest piqued.

 

Companies used to attain value through manufacturing and production. Today, businesses need to create brands that resonate and succeed.