Strategy dominant firms rarely create great design. They work smart, and they get results. But, they never cause that "HOW THE F*&K DID YOU THINK THAT!!" moment. These firms want creatives to work TO strategy. But outstanding firms incentify their creatives to work FROM strategy. Working from strategy allows us to create an atmosphere where we can watch the show and not see the strings. (Cuz when I see the strings, it's just not as magical anymore😢🥺... )
I get the natural tendency to feel the need to direct creativity to strategy. Allowing creative to build from it feels risky, its rewards seem out of touch, and the process feels out of control. In other words, the whole thing is often a little too scary to say F*&k it, I'm in.
BUUUT, I believe I have found a way to explain it to you so that working from strategy feels right at home😎😎, Ready? Let's go.
Working to strategy implies that strategy is the endgame. It creates an environment where strategy and creative cannot stand on their own two feet. They compete with each other, lack harmony, and constantly fight (like all the time). It's as if they are designed to jeopardize each other. This constant clash builds up a lot of tension. And when the project ends… the release feels AMAZING. This release makes us think we worked so freaking hard, and since we worked hard, it only makes sense that we designed a bulletproof system. Right?? Sadly, in reality, we have just been closing the gaps in strategy with the magical duct tape called creative (or vice-versa).
Once the initial high passes, we start noticing the cracks. We want to fix the issues, but we don't want to build up the tension. We hold our breath, cross our fingers, and hope the whole thing doesn't fall apart. We just see the process through. Finally, we pat ourselves on the back when the entire thing doesn't fall apart...
When working from strategy, we make sure the "whole thing" cannot fall apart. We start without the creative and design a bulletproof playground with KPIs, strategical pain points, and Funnels optimized to high hell. We make sure the walls of the playground are unbreakable and that the "whole thing" is as sturdy as Captain America's shield. Remember, it should be so well built that we should get good results by barely executing it.
Now, defining a playground might be counterintuitive to some of you. After all, why would you limit creativity ?? Wouldn't it be better to set it completely free?? Well… No.
You see, creative people(contrary to popular belief) can't create their best work when the "sky's the limit." They create inspiring work once there are some meaningful limitations. And yes, the playground we built with our strategy form those smexy limitations. It is critical to understand that once they are in the playground, the creative team needs to have complete control. They need the freedom to tinker with the strategy. Explore its nooks and crannies, figure out its strengths and learn to exploit them. This freedom and control allow them to START with strategy and work FROM there. Campaigns like California Milk's Got Milk, Nike's Kiss My Airs, Burger King's Poop Emoji Ice Cream, and Doritos's Marketing the Rainbow show how impactful our work can become once we work from strategy.
Finally, Working from strategy separates the strategy from creative, treating both as individuals who build on top of each other. It allows both sides to show their expertise and realize their potential. It makes sure they become more than the sum of their individual selves. (Like the Avengers). It also tells us that there is a time and place to put down our hats and let creativity take over…