The noise of modern life can distract marketing teams from creating their best work, writes Charlotte Rogers for Marketing Week.
Whether you head up the marketing department for a lean, energetic startup or a powerful blue chip corporation, it is important that your team is consistently creative.
There are a number of steps you can take to ensure your team is able to do its best creative work in what Charlotte Rogers describes as an “always on” environment.
Tech giant Google has tens of thousands of employees, but its London-based brand development division, Creative Lab, is run like a startup. Employees are encouraged to be display “scrappiness”, constantly challenge the status quo and seek out and embrace new opportunities.
Advice from Steve Vranakis, executive creative director of Creative Lab:
1) Broaden your horizons. Encourage your team to “collide” with people outside their department and experience pop culture (exhibitions, music, films, etc) in order to “get under the skin of the user”.
2) Keep your finger on the pulse. The Creative Lab leadership team meets every morning to discuss pop culture trends.
3) Think global. Vranakis talks through current projects with his international colleagues once a week.
4) It’s good to talk. Every Thursday all the Creative Lab teams meet for TGIT (Thank Google It’s Thursday) to discuss current projects, innovations and London’s cultural scene or listen to a topical presentation.
5) Be spontaneous. Routine kills creativity and breeds complacency.
Rob Forkan, co-founder of footwear and clothing brand Gandys, agrees with Vranakis when it comes to the importance of encouraging your team to get out of the office and see “what’s out there”, but warns that everybody is different, and that some people need instructions and rules to be creative. It’s important to know your team and take the right approach for each team member.
CREATE THE RIGHT ENVIRONMENT
Chris Lewis, founder and CEO of PR agency Lewis and author of Too Fast To Think advises creating a work environment conducive to creativity. Investment management service Nutmeg has taken his advice on board.
Advice from Katie Prentke, commercial director of Nutmeg:
1) Surround yourself with work. Displaying your work enables you to visualise a project in its entirety. Nutmeg’s chief technology officer refers to these displays as “information radiators”.
2) Break down barriers. An open-plan office encourages human interaction.
3) Encourage teamwork. When working on a big project that involves cooperation between multiple departments, “co-locate” your teams to encourage communication.
4) Embrace technology. Emails and social media can be distracting, but technology can also help speed up communication. Nutmeg uses instant messaging service Slack rather than email, ensuring that all messages are relevant to the job in hand.
5) Train for the task. Prentke encourages her team members to take training courses or attend conferences to fuel their creativity.
FOCUS ON PEOPLE
People are the heart of any business, so it is important to take good care of your staff and ensure your working practices show sufficient respect for their talent.
App software developer Poq focuses on creating the right “office vibe” and putting people in a “relaxed state of mind”.
Advice from Anna Abrell, marketing manager of Poq:
1) The world is flat. Creating a flat company structure where everyone’s ideas are heard makes for a more fruitful creative process.
2) Feel good, work better. Poq’s marketing team sits in a space flooded with natural light and meets for drinks every Friday to build team spirit and wind down.
3) Don’t rush. The best ideas take time. Abrell gives her team at least a week for creative brainstorming at the start of each campaign.
There is no point in hiring the best creative minds if your staff feel unable to express their ideas. Technology company Yahoo focuses on allowing its staff to express themselves.
Advice from Alec McCrindle, creative director of Yahoo Studio EMEA:
1) All ideas are equal. For McCrindle there’s no such thing as a bad idea. It is important to encourage your staff to express themselves no matter how wacky an idea might be.
2) Build the right team. Creativity should be top of the agenda when you are hiring new staff.
3) Be inclusive. Every member of your team has ideas, but not everyone is as comfortable expressing themselves. Try “brainwriting”: ask team members to write down their ideas rather than expressing the verbally.
BECOME A CREATIVE FORCE
The best companies prioritise creativity. Creative minds need to be nurtured by encouraging communication and building a work environment and inclusive process that allows every member of your team to shine.