Chances are we’ve all been in a big brainstorming session where the moderator kicks things off by stating, “And don’t worry, there’s no such thing as a bad idea.” We all laugh to ourselves and think something along the lines of, “Yeah, right. I can think of a million bad ideas, and I probably could share a few right now!”
Our team had this exact conversation following a recent creative session, and it left us wondering, “So how do companies really evaluate if an idea is a good one or not?” Asking that question led to this blog where we put together a few checkpoints to consider when evaluating ideas.
As we ask if an idea is good or not, we typically employ the following thought process. Our hope is these considerations will give you a general starting point for evaluating your creative ideas:
- Corporate Brand Guidelines – Most companies have articulated some sense of who they are and what they believe in. This can be in the form of mission/vision/value statements or in-depth brand guidelines. Too often, organizations fail to measure new ideas against their core beliefs. It’s easy for this to happen when new ideas are generated “in the moment” or in reaction to short-term business needs. Before falling in love with a new idea, take an easy first step and simply review the idea against what you stand for as a company. Ask your team, does this idea:
- Align with or complement our brand vision and mission?
- Match our core values?
- Feel like/sound like us?
- Feel authentic to our customers?
Asking these simple questions may quickly tell you if you should further explore the new idea. Or it might redirect your thinking and save your organization valuable time and energy.
- Creative Brief – If you’re a creative, you know the importance of a creative brief. A creative brief is a document that outlines all the necessary information for a creative project. If you are intentionally seeking a new idea (or a specific idea for a new campaign/marketing approach), a good creative brief serves as a starting point for the project and helps guide the creative process.
A creative brief typically includes the project description, goals, target audience, timeline, and budget. Details are very important when compiling a creative brief. They make sure everyone involved in the project understands the parameters and what’s expected of them. A creative brief can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. Start by gathering all the necessary information as listed above, and then ask the most important question…What is the ONE THING we want to communicate to our audience?
The advertising giant, David Ogilvy famously said, “Give me the freedom of a tight creative brief.” He knew focus and confines led to greater creativity.” What problem are you trying to solve? Be specific and work to find a simple, compelling ONE THING you want to communicate. Asking a team to “generate ideas to retain our top ten clients” is very different than a more ambiguous approach asking, “Let’s come up with some great ideas to grow sales.”
Having a creative brief in place will help keep everyone on the same page and ensure that the project is completed on time and within budget, and more importantly, is on strategy!
- Customer Feedback/Testing – Another way to evaluate ideas is to gain feedback from your customers and/or your target audience. There are lots of ways to do this, and it can be beneficial to work with professional research firms who have the expertise to collect the right research:
- What is the most effective methodology for the collecting feedback?
- What are the right questions to ask?
- How do you analyze the research to gain insights and implications?
Sure, we’ve all heard the Apple research philosophy that consumers don’t always know what they want, especially when the idea is a bit revolutionary. That can certainly be true, but there are also many proven methodologies for including consumers in your idea testing process.
One example is the work being done by a research firm called Proof Positioning. We’ve worked with them on several projects, and their unique methodology helps companies identify and measure consumer emotions and motivations in a highly quantifiable way. Check them out yourselves, otherwise we’ll need to write a separate blog post just on their process. It’s interesting stuff!
In conclusion, keep on brainstorming new and exciting ideas. Keep a folder of every idea you come across that you like, and don’t discard any idea until it’s been weighed by a creative brief. Then, have the practice and grace to toss some of the ideas that actually may not be so great. But don’t forget, even those ideas can also spark other, “Yes… but what if we…” ideas.
Take note of the checkpoints above and be confident knowing you have tools to help you bring the best ideas to life!