Few things in the history of the creative industry have shaken the status quo like a global pandemic. Covid-19 has forced drastic changes in the infrastructure of society pretty much overnight, and by doing so, it ushered in a new era of creativity, problem-solving and collaboration.
There is certainly a cloud of big changes looming at the horizon, and the choice of how to tackle this new era of creativity will be entirely up to creatives. Yet, we can't help but think that this change was long overdue – and that this huge paradigm shift was what all humanity has been awaiting for years.
We know someone who has a pretty clear opinion on this new Creative Problem-Solving Age. We reached out to Andrew Almendras, VP, Global Creative Marketing at IMAX, for our Brand Month here on Creativepool, asking him more about this new age of creativity and what it means for brands. You can find his incredibly inspiring opinion piece below.
Have we just entered the "Creative Problem-Solving Age"?
The Oxford dictionary defines the word Creative as involving the use of skill and the imagination to produce something new.
Whilst the Urban Dictionary defines Creative as… hav[ing] the ability to think up many different types of art.
From a very young age, we’ve been accustomed to equating creative with traditional art spanning across painting, architecture, sculpture, literature, music, performance and cinema, all of which appeal to our senses – sight, sound, smell, taste (in later years) and touch.
However, over the centuries and most importantly, recent decades, creative has played a key role in the larger eco-system of business, people and communities. It is integrated into the fabric of our rhetoric, strategic thinking, physical design and most importantly, mindset.
In an article written by Stephanie Vozza in FastCompany in 2019, she quotes Rahaf Harfoush: “Humans are inherently creative, born with the capacity to reflect, evaluate, come up with ideas, and find connections”.
We have the power to unlock our creativity or to neglect its growth. After all, the brain is a muscle and muscles can be strengthened over time through practice, discipline and commitment. People who are typically described as creative or artistic are categorized as having a dominant right brain.
“The right-side controls attention, memory, reasoning and problem solving” states ASHA, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.
The key term here is “problem solving”.
If we use creative and problem solving interchangeably, then the COVID-19 Pandemic might have triggered the start of a new creative age within a very short period of time – the Creative Problem-Solving Age. This might be the period we have all been needing as humanity (unbeknownst to us) ever since the Information Age which unlocked and redefined what it meant to be connected.
3 Characteristics that have defined this new age (so far)
- Collaboration Equals Survival – Individualism has been tested, competitors have extended olive branches to one another, and egos have been forced to be set aside. Because the world is connected as one eco-system, one nation’s decisions directly affect another nation’s people. From a global movement to uncover as much information about COVID-19 and share it out to billions of people as quickly as possible to developing new protocols and recommendations to reduce the spread of the virus. Creative problem-solving on a global scale was put to the test. Today, collectively, the world has demonstrated how, under pressure, creative problem solving is dire.
- Forced Adaptation by Disruption – Cars, planes and automobiles; weekends, weekdays and vacations; work, errands and social escapades. The cadence of life many so often describe as a love and hate relationship has been turned upside down. We’ve been forced to recreate social gatherings through Zoom video calls, boost community morale through Peloton bike rides and turn our homes into functional spaces where flexible schedules are no longer a taboo. We all had to redesign living in the new world.
- Once Normalised, Now Challenged – Social inequities, freedom of speech across social platforms, and institutionalized systems. Everyone was challenged to re-think what they once knew, to navigate through what has been normalized vs. what is right. What was once deemed as “normal” or “business as usual”, has now cracked under the pressures of a global pandemic with creative problem solving at the epicenter.
So, what is the role of creative within brands and in this age?
The COVID-19 Pandemic placed brands in a highly pressurized sandbox forcing them to face the truth, whether good or bad or neither. In a sense, it’s a moment in time that has been “gifted” to brands in order to reset.
The start of the Creative Problem-Solving Age has forced brands to reflect, rethink and realize their role in the world and most importantly to people (so not to view them as simply consumers) but to bring value to their lives.
3 ways brands can begin leveraging creative problem-solving as a powerful tool to evolve in this new world:
- Let the Creative Speak – powerful and simple creative should be the manifestation of well-thought-out strategy. Creative should pique curiosity, shift thought and provoke action in an organization. Whether that be to innovate a new product that enhances the lives of people, to make the once perceived as uncomfortable conversations, now comfortable like honest performance conversations or to reinvigorate an entire organization for a new path forward.
- From Cookies to Cookies – the past decade has defined marketing as data-centric—engagement, click-thrus, likes, and views vs. human-centric. As digital cookies go away, it opens up opportunity for marketers and creatives to flex their right-brain to develop deeper and more honest relationships with people. Afterall, some of today’s most globally recognized brands like Nike, Apple and IMAX continue to be a part of the fabric of our culture even after so many decades; it’s indicative how creativity is still the connective tissue between brands and people.
- View Challenges as Opportunities – similar to how the pandemic helped shape people’s priorities in life, the value of freedom and what can be achieved within a short and long period of time, brands should embrace challenges as opportunities to innovate. Often times, the most pressing moments produce the best creative solutions. It’s during challenging times when we get to the core of what’s important and this is the time for brands to story tell their authentic selves and to leverage that as a launchpad back into the lives of people.
Fixed mindset or growth mindset? There is no choice to be in a fixed mindset in today’s new world unless the fixed mindset is relating to something that is in constant change or movement, like the idea of impermanence.
Creative Problem-Solving is growth mindset and to progress as a global eco-system, we need to anchor our day-to-day thinking in problem solving. Creative has evolved exponentially but it still continues to play the same role it has for centuries, and that is to act as an instrument for problem solving—communicating a message, galvanizing people around a cause through a powerful symbol or finding better ways to design our lives for better living.
We’ve entered the Creative Problem-Solving Age—so let’s get to work.