The Hidden Face of Creativity
Subject of thought by Eric Cohen
The online world is overflowing with Creativity. It is, after all, a self assembling machine of videos, stories, art, and music. Ideas are shared and built upon. It is also a machine for business. For this, business engages the Interactive industry made up of Engineers, Designers, Architects, and Strategists to build systems, communications, and technology. They have, each and every one of them, employed creative thinking to do this.
Within the this industry, there is also a creative discipline. Creatives typically work within the realm of art and copy, visual design and content, or marketing and product. They concern themselves, to a very high degree, with communication, concepts, composition, how things look and work, and the process of maturing a business over time. It can be said that they make technology feel “more human”.
When asked why creativity is important in this regard, most people can’t seem to place the exact reasoning around it. There seems to be confusion over what “it” is. To be perfectly fair, creativity is quite elusive.
Creatives typically justify spending their hours by promising outcomes such as delight, surprise, or pleasure embedded in their compositions, messages or the design system itself. The thinking is that if we get everything just perfect and as gorgeous as possible, someone will surely have a pleasurable or surprising experience and come back to experience this pleasure again.
There is also a group that believes that creativity lies within the efficiency of the experience. At the enterprise level, because the stakes are so high, a person can supposedly make an entire career out of “getting there” in one fewer click.
Some look at the word “creativity” and imagine there is a direct source here to commoditize. As if creativity were an ore to be mined on another planet, or otherwise sought after for its own sake.
If you ask a designer, they might speak of “infusing” brand, making it easy to use, or creating an accessible experience via color contrasts for poor vision. Most others in the industry consider creativity a nice-to-have feature, a premium for a later release, someday.
While still others believe creativity is for consumers and not for business. So then, there are rules around who gets creative and who does not. Consumers get images and color. Businesses should have no images or color, for they are rather serious.
So, perhaps creativity is efficiency, accessibility, a commodity or mere frivolity. Or perhaps it is something else entirely.
If you’ve ever seen a figure skater perform, you know that they tell a story through music and dance. When performed with technical precision and effortless grace, they can convey a feeling through the story they tell with their body. It can be a powerful experience to relate to another person, one known to move an audience to tears.
Creativity is a vehicle for deep understanding. It tells you something about another person: where they come from, what they’ve done, what they care about. As an audience, we capture it all and more, and then make emotional determinations about the experience and what it means to us personally.
Creativity can be applied to interactive and change how business performs online. Creativity is the effortless grace of two-way communication, conspiring to create your audience’s deep understanding of something valuable to them.
As an audience engages and connects with a business online, they don’t talk about pleasure or delight. They don’t speak about creativity in terms of graphics, animation or ease of use (unless it’s truly a terrible user experience). They do say things like: “They get me” or “I just love their products.”
The businesses people love don’t lock their ideas and passion away in dense copy. They celebrate their content, expressing who they are, what they’ve done, and where they come from.
This is why we talk about story so much, and obviously we are not alone. It’s the most effective tool we have to communicate these complex ideas and emotions. If you’re selling apples, you’ll need a sign and a price. But if you’re explaining complex concepts to persuade investors, it’s another story altogether.
Luckily, whether an apple stand owner or venture capitalist, entrepreneurs of all types can use story to establish a framework to operate within. For example, every story needs a hero, a guide and an adversary. There is no hero without an antihero. In the interactive world, the user is the hero, your company a guide, and the adversary is the problem you are solving together with the customer.
Within interactive scenarios, the hero’s delight is simply the realization of something new about themselves. This epiphany is a result of understanding you. What you care about, what you’ve done. The hero has learned how a product will make their lives better. They’ve been given an opportunity to invest in something they truly understand and connect with personally. Furthermore, the audience can see a path forward for them to become heroes in their own stories thanks to your guidance.
For you, creativity means conjuring a deep understanding from your audience, expressing who you are as a business and opening new channels for the effortless grace of two-way communication. A space where the hero and guide exist and connect in harmony. Any business can use the power of story to connect to their customers. And by leveraging story to showcase that which makes your company great, customers will understand your message and discover ways to connect to your cause in a deep, personal way that’s not achievable without creativity.