πŸ’Ž On qualitative research and creative thinking in branding (how BT Cellnet became 02)

Sometimes qualitative research can provide a real platform for some genuinely creative thinking. Entire brands have been based on exactly these types of consumer insights. The team behind the re-brand of BT Cellnet had noted in their research that consumers had said ‘my mobile is as essential to me as my house keys or my wallet – I wouldn’t leave the home without it’, and from this one thought came the creative leap to the essentials of life, and hence to ‘oxygen’ and its chemical formula O2. Backed up by a series of dramatic photographs of bubbles in motions, a key visual property and an entire brand toolkit was born. It was so powerful that its launch adverts simply used this brans idea with the line ‘a breath of fresh air’ and very little else. Through multiple campaigns, straplines and ‘owners’, the company’s core ‘idea’ has remained intact for over a decade.

Excerpt from: Branding: In Five and a Half Steps by Michael Johnson

πŸ’Ž On unpicking complex problems (using Post-it notes)

I visited a very high-powered consultant friend with hundreds of degrees and a CV to die for.

Yet his desk was littered with Post-it notes.

I asked him what he was doing. He said he was solving a problem by writing down the key themes on separate notes, then simply grouping and rearranging them until he saw a pattern emerge.

My first reaction was that this was a hopelessly analogue and ‘scattergun’ way of working — until I had a go myself.

I’ve never looked back.

Try it.

Excerpt from: Now Try Something Weirder: How to keep having great ideas and survive in the creative business by Michael Johnson

πŸ’Ž On how to have good ideas (throw away the bad ones)

The American writer and scientist Linus Pauling famously said: ‘The best way to have good ideas is to have lots of ideas and throw away the bad ones.’ He was right. Stop staring at a blank screen, waiting for a ‘Eureka!’ moment. Start scribbling. Stick thing on the wall. Create stuff. Share it with others. It’s amazing how often just talking about your ideas leads to new, better ones.

Excerpt from: Now Try Something Weirder: How to keep having great ideas and survive in the creative business by Michael Johnson

πŸ’Ž On avoiding pricing that’s based on time spent (it’s about the value of an idea)

There are countless ways to price a project.

Thinking about how long it will take and adding up the days is a start. But really it’s about the value of an idea, not the time spent. In a famous Victorian court case, John Ruskin taunted the artist James Abbott McNeill Whistler that a painting that had taken just two days to make was not ‘worth’ the fee of 200 guineas. The painter responded: “I ask it for the knowledge I have gained in the work of a lifetime.”

Excerpt from: Now Try Something Weirder: How to keep having great ideas and survive in the creative business by Michael Johnson

πŸ’Ž On the human desire to meddle ever so slightly (an old presentation trick)

This is an old presentation trick, but it’s good.

It was started by an advertising agency that would produce carefully worked-out presentation concepts, but always include a blue duck somewhere in the visual. When it came to the feedback, clients would say: “We love it, apart from just one thing — can you take the duck out?”

The creatives would sign a little, make a brief but lacklustre defence of their ultramarine mascot, then agree to the change — knowing everything else was going through. And they used this trick for years.

It’s a simple bit of psychology, really, reflecting the human desire to meddle ever so slightly. The clients would feel they had made a crucial intervention, little knowing that they had been deceived into approving everything else.

Excerpt from: Now Try Something Weirder: How to keep having great ideas and survive in the creative business by Michael Johnson