Give your brainstorm a rethink

We are all after THE idea.

That simple expression of creativity which answers the brief with a killer story, creates impact and lands you a few award wins at CANNES.

But so often, traditional brainstorms relied on one, possibly two methods to generate ideas.

Version 1. Facilitator reads out the client challenge. Stops. Looks at the room. Expects gold.

Version 2. Facilitator reads out the client challenge. Stops. Looks at the room. Sees blank faces. Repeats the same challenge, just worded differently. Expects gold.

You might find yourself in the same oddly named meeting room, staring at the same faces, same post it notes or pen, scratching the same head and in an environment that lacks the energy creativity feeds off.

This is creativity’s equivalent of Groundhog Day and also creatively fruitless.

And as Einstein surmised “insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result”.

In the quest to find more effective alternatives, I’ve had several deep and (creative) meaningfuls with Creative Directors and creatives over the years about different approaches to mining a great idea and tested them out along the way.

Here are my favourites to inject newness, energy and above all unexpectedness into your next session.

Don’t say a word.

How novel. A brainstorm where no one speaks.

Ok technically not true, but I’m a big fan of those in a brainstorm, spending the first 5 minutes writing down their own answers to the challenge, before anyone speaks. So often, brainstorms are led by the extroverts, and when that happens, particularly at the beginning of a session, the whole group is led by that single train of thought. Writing first, chat second eliminates that and ensures we maintain diversity of thought from those in the room. It also means that in the first five minutes, you’ve got a room full of ideas rather than one from the person that shouted the loudest.

Make it random.

The brain loves to find connections with things it knows. In this exercise, identify four random words linked to the product / service / brand. For instance, if we were working on a pizza brand we might choose. Shape. Flavour. Delivery. Italy. Now take each word and list out 10 corresponding words.

Your job now, is to pick four words at random, one from each column, and use them to generate an idea related to your challenge. This is a great one, if you are trying to find product innovations, create something original or new.

Who said brainstorms need to be in a room?

Go for a Wonderstorm instead. It is scientifically proven that walking helps us think. The extra blood flowing through our brain whilst being stimulated by life, in real time, lets the subconscious play. Take your creative challenge and on your Wonderstorm, walk backwards, slowly. Or follow what interests you. Yes it might look odd, but if you can get over the self-consciousness, the pieces of the jigsaw that formulate a creative solution are hidden in the world around you. Do this in pairs. Do it alone, it doesn’t matter, as long as its outside.

Be open-minded.

Embrace pessimism. Seriously, thinking about the worst possible outcome can also be a handy tool. In exploring the controversial and risky, you often land on, unexpectedness, shock or a polarising view that can be debated. Not bad places to be when we’re trying to grab the attention of media, readers and an audience.

Experiment with the below, or better still, let Brands2Life facilitate your next brainstorm to help you find your next ‘The IDEA’.

Julian Cirrone, Creative Director
[email protected]