Can we stop being innovative yet?

A word often used in creative briefs and brainstorming sessions is 'innovative'. But how many of our ideas are actually innovative? Ishbel Macleod explains.

Where were we before everything had to be ‘innovative’? Were we sitting around, creating only average ideas, and not focussing on the brief? No.

And yet there’s still an urge in briefs and brainstorms to say ‘let’s do something innovative. Let’s be disruptive’.

This is fine in principle. I like coming up with and seeing new ideas. I like coming up with something interesting that stands out. What I don’t like is buzzwords.

Okay, okay, they’ve been around forever, and the advertising/design/digital world is known for being king of the clichés, but isn’t it time for us to be different?

The dictionary definition of innovative is ‘featuring new methods; advanced and original’. But, to be honest, how many of the ‘innovative’ ideas you come up with actually match this? Probably no more than one in ten. (Sorry)

What you need to think about is not how to make something new, which is what is normally associated with innovation, but how to use something in a new way.

Instead of just inventing something for the sake of inventing something, you need to take the time to actually work out who the audience are and what they want.

Can you show/use/connect in a new way? If yes – huzzah, you’re being innovative. No? Then that doesn’t mean you’re screwed. Just because something doesn’t match the definition of innovation doesn’t mean it’s not exciting, interesting or even award-winning. By tying yourself to the idea of being innovative, you’re actually stopping yourself from coming up with something great.

Yes, innovation is important but it’s not the be all and end all. Focus on making something great.

By Ishbel Macleod, PR & Social Media Consultant.