I’ve come to realize something important about the brainstorming/creative process: some ideas are more important than others.

Now, that’s different than the age old saying, “There’s no such thing as a bad idea.” What I’m suggesting is that some ideas carry more weight than others. Some propel the creative process forward, some help it change direction, and others are simply that great idea. Either way, brainstorming and acknowledging the fluidity of the creative process is the key to understanding how to develop an effective, unique communications strategy.

As you know, strategies are built upon a foundation of ideas. How do we want to communicate the implementation of a Consumer Driven Health Plan (CDHP)? How should we brand a health and wellness initiative for a retail food store chain?

There are a few different steps that lead to successful idea generation. But the catch is that they don’t always occur in the same order. This lack of linearity can help us understand this sometimes unpredictable process. Check out how I’m breaking down the creative brainstorm:

  1. Prepare: This is where you dive in—immerse yourself in the information, absorb relevant facts, statistics, opinions of subject matter experts. By gaining a solid foundation of background information, you’ll be better equipped to generate meaningful ideas.
  1. Incubate: This step is where the information you’ve gathered starts to churn. You’ll start to see how different thoughts and opinions relate to each other. It’s important not to rush it—sometimes it can take minutes, hours, weeks or even months. But you also need to work with what you’ve got, like when you’re pulled into a quick brainstorming session and you have one hour to come up with a new brand. Don’t let timing limit your ability to think outside of the box.
  1. Recognize the “aha” moment: As ideas begin to mature, you’ll experience an epiphany of some sort. Your thoughts come together in a way that makes sense. Although the smallest part of the creative process, this moment is often pivotal in finding one of those great ideas.
  1. Evaluate: This part of the process is where you decide if the “aha” moment is worth pursuing. In other words, should you ask your peers what they think? Should you seek client approval before moving forward? This step often presents a challenge because of limited time and a large amount of ideas. That’s why it’s important to take a moment to reflect and ask yourself, “Does this particular idea have merit?”
  1. Elaborate: Typically the final stage, this is when you will do the actual work. Whether you test the idea, work through it, or collaborate with your peers to add to it, the process of elaboration is the most tangible of the creative brainstorming steps.

I hope these stages help you to wrap your arms around the lofty creative process. Keep these steps in mind when you’re tasked with developing an idea—with your team, for a client, or for another reason entirely. And remember, whether your idea was a building block, or the “be all-end all”, your contribution to the creative process is necessary. So, don’t be afraid to jump in!

Sources: www.jamestaylor.com, www.smallbusiness.com, www.psychologydiscussion.net

Written by Katie Oberkircher

Trion Communications katie.oberkircher@trion-mma.com