Written by Mike Krankota, Art Director
We’ve all been there: You have this magnificent idea, but you can’t get it out of your head and onto paper. Or perhaps you have grand hopes for a goal but are having trouble plotting out the concrete path to get there. Whether your project is visual, conceptual, or written, we all struggle with this process from time to time.
For clients working with agency partners, this creative block often manifests itself through statements like, “I’m not sure what I want, but I’ll know it when I see it,” a strategy that often leads to extensive trial and error that introduces added frustration for all involved. On the agency side, it can manifest in the form of hours spent staring at a screen until the imposter syndrome fully takes over and every idea feels equally terrible. In other words, creative blocks are no fun for anyone and often contribute to outcomes no one is satisfied with. So how do we combat them and break on through to the other side?
As an Art Director with many years of experience, I’d love to walk you through my process for dealing with creative blocks on the path to better real estate marketing (using a bit of good humor along the way).
Write Your Way Out of the Problem
The best advice I have ever received in my career—and one I pass on to my team—is that sometimes the messaging should steer the design and not the other way around. If you’re feeling like the idea isn’t quite there, often a great copywriter can pull it out of the trash with a magnificent tagline or bite-sized messaging idea that gets things going. Don’t be afraid to reach out for written inspiration to help get the gears moving again on your project. In lieu of external copywriting help, creating a word cloud of simple bulleted list of the big ideas you want to convey can also be a great place to start. You can also reach out to Threshold for help with your creative process! Our writers specialize in writing their way out of the problem and helping inspire messaging-driven content.
Walk Away For a Minute
A wonderful mentor advised me once to sometimes go walk a dog. Take care of your plants. If you must, mess about on social media or something. Just take that little break. Keep the thing in the back of your mind, let the ideas happen organically, and just see what comes up. It can be easier said than done (there is a certain inertia to overcome before getting away from your desk), but brains are excellent at working through challenges in the background and sometimes that’s the best path forward.
Personally, I rely on my garden and dogs for help with this. I didn’t acquire these things specifically for this purpose but they certainly don’t hurt. For others on the creative team, it might be pestering a cat, taking the trash out to the dumpster, or doing a crossword. Whatever your strategy, walking away from the desk is a fantastic way to consider, find, and explore new ideas.
Flip It Upside Down
So you’re looking at a possible idea. Say it’s a name. A logo. A website. But something isn’t quite right. What if you flip it all the way over to find new ideas? What is the opposite? And when you consider it, does it resonate? Is there a place to find a new perspective from flipping the idea and seeing the other side of it? Why or why not?
Often, our internal creative discussions start with “what if…” and that is why we succeed. Asking that question always leads to big ideas.
Sleep On It
This tactic is like “Walk Away For A Minute” taken up a notch. It works best when you’re partway through your creative process or have reached the end of a certain stage and can’t decide how to proceed to the next. In these cases, sometimes, the answer is to just muse for a moment. Again, your brain is great at working through things in the background, so sleeping on it (literally or figuratively) can really help you wrap your mind around a complex project or elusive strategy.
For example, at Threshold, we always encourage clients to give immediate ‘gut reaction’ feedback but also to think about it for a few days and offer additional thoughts after they’ve had time to sit with it. Sometimes, the presentation is what draws you. Or a color. Or a feeling. But ultimately, you need to make sure this is the right call for you and your company/property/startup/etc. and giving it some time can sometimes be the best way to get there.
That said, make sure the time you take is intentional and structure. Give yourself a deadline and think about the questions you need to answer in order to proceed. If you wake up the next morning and still like everything you saw, consider why. What appealed? Why did it resonate? How can we turn this into something that sells?
At Threshold, we are experts in this process, so we try to guide feedback based on our levels of experience. It’s a fun process, especially when timelines allow the opportunity to involve multiple stakeholders in the creative process to ensure the end result is something everyone feels invested in.
Phone a Friend
Sometimes, a single creative can do this. Often, it’s a group effort. “Hey, I have this idea, any thoughts,” is all it takes. Creative teams are naturally collaborative. We are stronger than each individual part, and the sum of a true team is far greater than you can imagine.
This is a strategy we use constantly as an agency team, but it applies to client teams too. If you can’t come to a consensus among those you collaborate with, it’s often wise to ask someone who understands the larger goals of the project. Their feedback, whether positive, negative, or neutral can help push past the half-baked concept and illuminate actionable steps toward a more perfect execution.
Threshold has a collaborative environment that demands that the best idea wins, regardless of who came up with it. At the same time, we pride ourselves on being a client partner who can work with everyone to make sure it’s a win all around. After all, if you can’t successfully champion the ‘why’ behind a particular strategy, there’s likely a better idea out there and working together is the best way to find it.
Creative blocks and “I’ll know it when I see it” attitudes are a pain for both agency creatives and client-side stakeholders. But a holistic thought process and a willingness to collaborate can turn something that seems impossible into some of the biggest wins of your real estate marketing plan.