At first, they might seem like uncomfortable bedfellows, but strategy and creativity combined are a potent force for business growth. In fact, innovative strategies are usually born of creative thinking, says Stephen Izatt, MD of brand consultancy Thinkfarm.
In the quest for game-changing business strategies, successful brand owners understand the need for creative thinking: valuing intuition, merging diverse thought patterns and daring to embrace the unforeseen. It might make startups a bit nervous but, by and large, if they partner with the right brand and business-growth expert, they come to understand that to really move the dial, creative thinking and bravery are essential for business growth.
This conviction is well-founded. In a survey conducted by the World Economic Forum, a remarkable 90% of business leaders emphasised the importance of creativity in maintaining competitiveness in today’s market.
But in the business world, which often prioritises optimisation and guaranteed results, thinking outside the box can seem like a scary proposition. Often, people stick to the road well-travelled, or mimic competitors, or make incremental improvements to tired methods.
One of the primary obstacles that can impede business growth is cognitive fixedness, where the belief takes hold that there’s only one way to interpret or tackle a situation or challenge.
FREEING UP MINDSETS
It can be tempting for business leaders to approach each situation with a similar mindset. (“It worked in the past, why change?”) But every business challenge is unique and brand strategies need to have inbuilt flexibility in order to meet them.
If business leaders don’t invest time in thinking about the nuances of the challenges they face, and then promoting creative thinking and taking action based on insights, it can lead to stagnation – a formidable barrier to growth. Embracing adaptability and innovation is essential if business owners – especially startups – are to foster continuous progress.
It’s not about overlooking the abundance of powerful analytical tools that have evolved over time. They remain invaluable for delving into competitive landscapes and assessing how companies can leverage resources and capabilities.
However, those of us devoted to exploring strategic concepts acknowledge that in relying on analytical tools any brand strategy is bound to fall short. To devise groundbreaking strategies and propel business growth, it’s essential to involve creative thinking too.
GETTING TO THE HEART OF A BUSINESS PROPOSITION
Once we begin to explore the essence of a brand, crucial questions arise. Who’s behind the endeavour? What unique offerings are they bringing to the table? How do these benefits cater to the needs of the target audience? How do we want people to perceive the operation?
Through the process of brand mapping, we can delve deep into the heart of a brand to discover the truth of the brand; the core benefits and propositions that unite the enterprise and that will resonate within the organisation and engage external audiences. Our goal is to allow a singular unifying idea to shine through.
CREATING A FLUID BRAND IDENTITY
Our work with fintech brand NEX provides a case in point. When ICAP made the decision to sell its hybrid voice-broking and information business to Tullett Prebon, a need arose for a fresh brand name and corporate identity, as the ICAP brand was being transferred along with the sale. This paved the way for the emergence of a new global financial market operator.
We were given the task of shaping the brand positioning of this new fintech company. We embarked on a journey to create a brand name and identity that truly captured its essence. The brief was clear – the name had to embody a set of key attributes: the culture of the company, characterised by speed, agility and innovation, and the organisational structure, which is streamlined, efficient and continuously growing.
NEX was born, a name that not only signified the new direction but also aligned perfectly with the values and aspirations of this cutting-edge financial scaleup.
The name NEX was not just a simple label but a treasure trove of potent ideas waiting to be woven into compelling campaign themes and brand messaging. Embodying the essence of being prepared for what lies ahead, operating as an efficient exchange, expanding global reach and fostering valuable market connections – each concept offered a rich canvas for the development of impactful marketing initiatives. Within a couple of years of our input, the business sold for nearly $4 billion – an amazing result.
INJECTING A LITTLE MAGIC
The magic of creative-led strategic thinking lies in its ability to fuel growth and enable companies to forge distinctive identities. Those that embrace a creative spark possess the power to resonate deeply with consumers, fostering loyalty and admiration for their brand.
In a world where innovation reigns supreme, creativity allows businesses to remain agile and adaptable, constantly redefining the boundaries of what’s possible. Ultimately, it is this unwavering dedication to creativity that propels some companies to achieve remarkable feats and leave an indelible mark.