Creative Collisions

Creative Collisions

14 February 2023

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It’s an age-old issue. Brands can get stuck in their ways. In fact, the stronger the legacy, the more people become wedded to a certain set of words and ways of thinking, and the harder it can be to change. Trying to glimpse the future is a difficult process, not the least because there is an accepted way of doing things, a well-known brand mantra and a comfort zone easy to stay within.

It’s in our biology. The human brain is set up to minimise energy use. Change and newness is draining and something, more often than not, that we avoid. It’s hardwired into our minds to rely on instinct, what went before, what everyone else does. We rely on heuristics.

We live in uncertain times. Surely, the last thing we’d want to do is shake everything up?

But that’s exactly what we must do. No-one can afford to coattail on yesterday’s logic for too long. Particularly brands.

Markets change, attitudes develop, technologies flourish, channels evolve, and people grow.

Saying yes when instinct says no

No-one said it was easy, but history shows us it that bravery pays off and risks can be greatly renumerated. Steve Jobs wouldn’t take no for an answer when he wanted glass strong enough to cover the entire iPhone. He went to China, found a defunct factory which used to make such glass and asked then to reopen. What seemed impossible became a reality.

So the question is; how do you gather and enthuse a team around new thinking? How do you jump off the logic train? How do you direct energy to the difficult task of finding a new positioning? How can you ask difficult questions?

Channelling ‘positive conflict’ prevents the ossification of the system by exerting pressure for innovation and creativity.

A manual for dismantling and rebuilding

Strong client relationships are essential to the success of any ad agency, but that doesn’t happen overnight and isn’t always linear and easy. Our approach to the journey with our clients is unexpected and unusual. Rather than avoid conflict – we court it. In-fact we ‘collide’ with them head-on and we do that through a proprietary process called Collisions.

Collisions puts the brand in focus.  Ultimately, we are looking for a fresh perspective, to really see the brand through a new lens. It takes a combination of fresh eyes and brutal honesty to reveal the truth.

The process is like taking a seat in the psychiatrist’s coach, brand leaders sometimes say.

And, much like therapy, it takes a concerted effort to get a bigger perspective, a new view, to move from entrenched positions, to evolve and to innovate. And whilst we don’t need anything as large as the Hadron Collider for this process – it is, nonetheless, a leap of faith and relies on trust.

Guiding principles for brand leaders

1. Accept and celebrate… the positives of conflict. You’ll find brand truths and forge  a new path along the way.

2. Get everyone involved – all stakeholders.

3. Be brave. Ask questions.

4. Look for clues. Physically map out the different elements of the brand and the business. Think of those evidence boards in crime dramas. When you see it in front of you – collisions will begin to reveal themselves.

5. Keep an open mind – listen, reflect, and embrace the unexpected.

It takes a leap of faith for brave brand leaders to trust an agency to lead them down an uncertain path littered with obstacles. But it’s the risk takers and mavericks who can reap the biggest rewards. As my namesake, Steve (Jobs) knew all too well.

Written by Planning Partner, Steve Hastings.