Whether you call it planning, creative strategy, comms strategy or brand strategy, the type of strategy I specialise in can seem like a bit of a dark art. Unlike the ultimate output, which is tangible, creative strategy work is intangible, regularly misunderstood and somewhat baffling when you start out. Essentially creative strategy is the first step in finding a creative solution to a business problem.
This post breaks down the process that I (and others I assume) use to get to a creative strategy.
Read, immerse yourself and make notes. In this stage, it’s important not to have any preconceived notions of what the answer will be. I avoid even organising my notes, just letting everything flow freely. Naturally you’ll have initial thoughts, but it’s important to keep an open mind at this point.
Organise and hypothesise. Organise your findings into key themes, tensions and insights. Come up with a handful of hypotheses of what the answer might be. Ideally, sleep on it before you proceed (or at least go for a walk or do some yoga; it’s amazing what our subconscious mind can come up with.) I tend to find that if I trust my brain and leave it unsupervised for a while, it’ll produce a handful of useful ideas!
Pressure test. Now you have your hypotheses, try to prove and disprove them using more rigorous research. Sometimes this will include testing, often there’s not time for that. Pressure testing also includes sharing your ideas with colleagues (or in my case, my husband) to see if it actually makes sense. If you work in a creative agency, it is vital at this stage (ideally earlier) to share with your creative team to ensure it’s a strategy that will spark great ideas for them.
Build on it. Whether it’s a channel plan, a messaging hierarchy or a series of ‘mini’ briefs for different parts of the business, this is where your strategy goes from a single-minded idea to something more robust.
And that’s it! No magic tricks, nothing that a bit of intuition and some persistent research can’t handle.
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