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  • Writer's pictureCormac McCann

Cracking Creative: The Answer is Black and White

We had an admittedly chronic case of head-scratching trying to crack a big brief for a valued client.

My next step was cracking my head off a wall to relieve the itch of creative block.

We had insight, we had ideas, we had scamps and mock-ups that looked great – but what we produced just wasn’t hitting the spot for the client.

But then the veil of covid lifted and the solution finally revealed itself: a blackboard!

We have always collaborated closely with our clients, and the big gigs need some face-to-actual-face time. So, we organised a co-creation session in our office. And not just because everyone wanted free sandwiches (though that was a plus) – we spoke freely, what wasn’t working was quickly established, and we took a journey to get the heart of the problems and discover the route to success. It was a fun, engaging and revealing exploration of the task – and what’s more, we did it in one foul swoop. The session completely set us back on track, boosted morale all round and genuinely renewed trust.

Death by Zoom

If there’s one thing that I would say was the greatest difficulty as a creative team during covid, it was the unnatural flow and stunted energy that came with brainstorming via video calls. As an internal team, we adapted because we could be agile, casual and dip in and out. With a client, however, there’s more formality and time is precious.

With online presentations, you might find yourself talking to someone you have never met in person before, or there could be a lot of stakeholders in the virtual “room”. What I feel happens quite easily is that people slip into “presentation mode”, they say their piece and that could be their lot. And that “presentation mode”, all-eyes-on-me feeling can come with its own share of anxiety.

We can fall into a bit of presentation ping-pong: we pitch… feedback… we pitch… feedback… What could have been one in-person session with free sammiches, turns into 4 calls over 2 weeks. That just leads to frustration, time wasting and missing out on the shared creative process.

Chalk It Up

Einstein had his eureka moment in the company of a blackboard no doubt, and we still have our “chalk drop” moments here at our own blackboard. Internally, since getting back into the office, the creative solutions have been coming thick, and fast (although my circles are uneven and my scribbling worse than my old geography teachers). Getting the team in front of the blackboard is my favourite part of nailing the big idea. Copy, diagrams, sketches and scamps: the blackboard or whiteboard is a playground for creativity.

So now that the dust has settled, create your own (chalk) dust and beware the random permanent marker in the jar.

Get your client in the office, have fun, eat sammiches. Black board, white board, flip board, a mosaic of post-its.

Get scribbling. Move fast, build relationships, drop barriers, co-create!

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