Strategic Creativity Isn't Expensive

Many conversations recently have addressed the misperception that creativity, by definition, takes time, money, and effort that can’t be afforded right now because of the economy. A couple of examples:

  • Someone showed me a meeting announcement for an “ideation” session to which they’d been invited. It referenced the range of ideas under consideration as “creative and practical and everything in between.”
  • A tweet in recent weeks said that while the sender wouldn’t reject innovation, he would “say no to unique creative thinking.”
  • Another forwarded email suggested a group shouldn’t “over think” a topic “out of respect for time & resources. We can do that later when we can be more creative.”

Arghhhhhhh!!!

Since when is practical the opposite of creative? And what types of pre-conceived ideas and misperceptions obscure the role creativity plays in contributing to business results?

The image below of three Ben & Jerry’s ice cream flavors is another exhibit in showing the fallacy of the “creativity only in selected instances” point of view. Ben & Jerry’s demonstrates the myriad benefits of strategic creativity with ice cream flavor names that:

  • Play on and twist the familiar (to help initial recognition and retention)
  • Are funny (introducing emotion, another element in improved idea stickiness)
  • On brand (completely consistent with something you’d expect from Ben & Jerry’s)


These flavors had to be named something. It probably took little if any additional time to come up with names that clearly work for the brand’s benefit vs. generic names that wouldn’t.

The point isn’t to go out and name everything and call it good. The point is that no matter what the economic environment, being strategic and creative doesn’t decline in importance. It’s MORE important.

Strong branding companies know this and act accordingly, while also-rans wait around for economic signals to suggest it’s time to turn creativity back on. Their challenge is they probably won’t make it until their creativity stop light flashes green again. And maybe that’s just fine!


Mike Brown is an award-winning marketer and strategist with extensive experience in research, strategy, branding, and sponsorship marketing. He’s a frequent keynote presenter on innovation and authors Brainzooming!

Mike Brown

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