Being creative doesn’t require a natural talent. It’s a way to work. It also means you can train your creative muscles to grow stronger and be smarter so you’re able to create good ideas. But how are you doing?

In this article I’ll try to give you some of my best learnings from the Danish Advertising School for young creative talents, which I finished in 2017.

One thing is clear, an idea is something you create through creative processes. The more you practice and train your creativity, the better you’ll be to create good ideas.

This fact is something I’m big fan of and understand, because in the world of sports – where I was born and raised as an elite handball player – training has always been a part of my every day. The only place success comes before training is in the dictionary.

But before I start sharing my knowledge and favourite training tools, it’s necessary to have a look at how we create the right foundation and why it’s important to set up some rules for the creative process.

How to kick-start the creative process?

There are five important elements to have in mind when you’re building the foundations of the creative process:

  1. Place: Find a place where you can work undisturbed.
  2. Limited time: Make sure you’ve set a fixed start and end for the creative process. Neither for a long time or a short time.
  3. Quantity vs Quality: A good idea often originates from the bad ones, and the quality raises through the quantity and amount of ideas. Therefore, it is extremely important to bring as many ideas as possible to the table when brainstorming.
  4. Confidence: Do not fear mistakes or bad ideas. Be spontaneous and play!
  5. Humour: No matter how serious the problem is keep in mind that humour is a key element of spontaneity, play and creativity.

(Source: John Cleese, excerpt from lectures on creativity, 1991)

We love limitations

Another important perspective in the idea generation phase is to set up limitations. Just like in the world of sport, where you’re having a number of rules in the form of field size, number of players and playing time, so it’s possible to complete the match.

It’s the same when we’re working with creativity, it’s in the limitations you’ll find the opportunities and in the same time they’ll help you to qualify the ideas in relation to the targets and KPIs.

Therefore, you always need to have a good brief before you start, which gives you knowledge about the time frame, target group, KPIs and budget.

Change industry

Branch change as a tool can be used if you find it difficult to explain a product or industry. It can bring it into a context that makes it easier to understand.

A great example is when the Danish shoe brand Bianco launched a campaign where the shoe was presented as a perfume.

What is the ultimate consequence?

You can also ask the question: What is the ultimate consequence? The Danish brand OK Gasoline used this tool with great success in their concept “Support local sports”. In their commercials, they showed a number of situations in poor local sports club that haven’t received support, but it could be changed for the better with OK Gasoline.

Imagine a world without the brand

With the third tool, you can try to imagine how the world would look if the brand or product didn’t exist. The Danish newspaper Ekstra Bladet launched a series of campaign films with the theme “Imagine a world without Extra Bladet!”.

The common denominator was that the situations got grotesque and had an almost theatrical outcome. Extra Bladet wanted to signal that these situations don’t exist in the real world because we’ve a debate-making newspaper like Ekstra Bladet, which perceives itself as the guardian of society.

What if it’s the opposite?

In the creative process, you can also turn the situation upside down and ask yourself “What if it’s the opposite?”. The Danish Dee Jay Organization used this tool in the 1990s with their Ecstasy campaign, which featured strong headlines like “Fuck the future – E beats everything”, “Saturday is future enough for me” and “Doctors do not know a fuck “. Each time referring to the campaign website where young people could find information and discuss the use of Ecstasy.

The purpose was to create debate and get the young people’s attention by being provocative and saying the opposite.

The 4 cases above are good examples. But there are more tools that you can use:

  • It’s all about…
  • Imagine that you are the product
  • Criticize and make fun of the product
  • How would others, for example a famous person solve problem
  • It’s so amazing that…

Is the idea actually good?

Once you’ve been through the creative process and have written down a large number of ideas, it’s essential that you manage to evaluate the quality of the ideas. Are they actually good enough?

Here you can ask yourself the following questions:

Is the idea:

  • True? (Is it built on a human insight?)
  • Aptly? (Does it affect a feeling like humour, shock or surprise?)
  • Logical? (Do all people understand the message?)
  • Relevant? (Both for the product / message / target group)
  • Different? (Is it original / innovative – does it stand out?)

Do you’ve other tools or training technique? Then fell free to comment and share them.

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