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Generating Creative Ideas Checklist

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I’ve been thinking that one of the things I want to do with this blog is provide creative and advertising folks both an idea resource and creative process aides. So to kick that off, here is a basic checklist on how I generate creative ideas for a project. Many experienced creatives do this differently. And that’s okay, creativity can be a messy business. But I’ve found these basic steps work well for me. Maybe they will for you too.

  1. First, I like to spend some time getting acquainted with the project. This starts by reading, and making notes on, any materials relevant to the project that the client and/or project team has provided (from creative briefs to competitive examples). Give yourself time to absorb this.
  2. Almost always, I extend this process with my own research. This research will include not only research directly about the topic, but also investigations into ideas that I feel might have metaphorical or visual similarities. I make notes and digital bookmarks.
  3. Before “getting creative,” I let all this sink in and stew around in the brain for a bit. I give this some time, as I don’t want to be bogged down with parameters too much when I’m getting my creative on. I need to feel unfettered, and if I already have the project concepts a little ingrained, I’ll be guided without being dragged down.
  4. The first thing I do in the creative stage is pick out little pieces from my research and study to zero in on. I try to focus on key points and messaging but really, at this point, it’s all fair game.
  5. Then I take each of those pieces in turn and do a mind map. I conceive of every phrase, idea or image that could possibly be associated with that piece. In this phase, it’s important to be prolific Get down as many concepts as you can. If you do it right, ideas will start to emerge already.
  6. Now, take a look at your mind maps and pick out concepts that stand out to you, whether they’re engaging, interesting or just funny. Try to connect these concepts back into the project objectives. You might very well find connections between some of these concepts too. You should start to seem some ideas emerging.

So, hopefully at this point, you should have a good creative start. Instead of steps 4 and 5, there are dozens of other creative exercises you can go through to generate fresh ideas. Perhaps, in future posts, we’ll cover a few more

Keep in mind the one lesson that beginning creatives often neglect. Creative ideas are always built on something. They don’t emerge from the void hidden in your brilliant mind. They come from mixing existing things together in new and interesting ways. So whatever your creative process be sure to inject outside forces and resources. Don’t brainstorm without stimuli or you will be braindrizzling.

What are some of your creative exercises you find useful in breaking barriers and generating innovative creative?

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