Mitchell Wagner – Art Director – IRONCLAD Marketing

Mitchell Wagner

Since the beginning of time – or shortly thereafter – creative brainstorming sessions have been used to come up with the next great idea. These sessions are a great way to bounce ideas off one another and arrive at the creative concept. But it doesn’t end with just creative advertising campaigns – brainstorming can be used for a variety of other tasks, including new product names, tradeshow promotion ideas and various problem-solving issues. The following are a few basic guidelines to help ensure a brainstorming session is productive and successful.

1. There are no bad ideas in brainstorming. I repeat, there are no bad ideas in brainstorming

This is the number one rule and needs to be kept in mind at all times – and it needs to be repeated before every session. How many times have you thought of an idea, but risked sharing it because you thought it wouldn’t work or it wasn’t a
complete idea or you were worried it would sound silly? I was guilty of this as anyone. I’d jot down ideas and think, “no way would this ever be taken seriously.” But there have been times that my “not so serious” idea has spurred other ideas. So encourage people to throw it all out there.

2. Prepare ahead of time

Let everyone know of the expectations and basic idea of what the brainstorm session will be covering. This gives everyone a chance to think about ideas ahead of time, and will hopefully make the session more productive. It’s also a good idea to have the client fill out creative brief/blueprint out ahead of time so you can focus on the right aspects.

3. Have a leader

A brainstorm should have one designated leader who keeps the rest of the group on track. It can also be helpful if this person breaks the ice by throwing out the first idea. This can put others at ease and make it easier for them to share the ideas they may feel are “bad”.

4. Everyone is welcome – and expected – to share ideas

There’s a reason we brainstorm in groups. One person can sit by himself and try to come up with a million ideas, but eventually will become stuck in a rut or have the creative juices run dry. Whoever is leading the brainstorm needs to encourage everyone to provide input. In fact, if it appears one person is quietly observing but not offering an idea, call them out (but in a positive way) and ask for their thoughts. Chances are they’ve got something cooking inside their head, but are perhaps too shy to share it.

5. Talk through ideas

Don’t simply put an idea on the board and leave it there. If you feel it’s good, discuss it. Try to image how it could be used in different mediums and with variations of headline. Perhaps the idea isn’t quite there but could be “it” with a little bit of time and discussion. And don’t be afraid to step away for awhile and come back to it. Even a change of venue can a big help push that good idea to a great idea, or break creativity blocks and bring out new ideas.

Do you have any tips you would like to share? Maybe you have a special way you get the creativity flowing – like trying to tie lyrics to a song into the headline. We’d love to hear about t.

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