Tag Archives: product development

Where’s the best place to go for creative and innovative ideas?

Do you like new creative ideas?

I do. I love it when someone comes up with an idea that is genuinely clever, new and racy. I get excited by the potential opportunities such ideas present.

In almost twenty years as a marketer I have seen my fair share of agency pitches for advertising campaigns. Or proposals for communications collateral to support a proposition launch. I’ve seen budgets for such campaigns as low as a few thousand pounds to many millions. But no matter how much budget was available to entice the agency to win the job, I have on occasion felt disappointed when I see their pitches.

Sometimes they are too “samey”. Others are too safe or lack any originality. Granted the agency responds to a brief written by me so I have to make sure that I haven’t caused my disappointment with poorly written requirements. But when I know I have given a strong brief, the heart sinking feeling of disappointment is even harder to bear when a pitch lacks that unique spark.

For the last few years we have sponsored the Product Design students at The Glasgow School of Art (GSA) to run a creative project. This year we asked them to come up with four original ideas for what a Mutual Company might offer as its proposition. Mutuality is perhaps a bit of a tired concept. And not many people understand that unlike a Public Company, which shareholders own, it’s the customers that own a Mutual Company.

In the past I have been very impressed by the concepts the students have come up with, so I was looking forward to seeing what their ideas were. Could they make mutuality interesting?

Needless to say their presentations overwhelmed me. The six students had locked themselves away in a brainstorming room for a week. Not only had they met our brief and come up with four concepts, but they had also produced posters, leaflets and copy explaining the proposition, and flow charts to show their processes.

What's the best place to go for creative and innovative ideas?
Some of the material the students put together.

Their production was professional. The material was eye-catching, Their copy was simple and to the point.

But the jaw dropping moment came when I realised that they had come up with two ideas which were genuinely original. In fact they were innovative, clever and racy. I almost felt like nipping out and filing a few patents. Yes really their ideas were that good.

Okay so there might have been a bit of naivety in some of the high level concepts, but these students are not (yet) business people.

And here’s the thing. They put all this together for a prize amount of just over one thousand pounds.

Their ideas were fresher, more interesting, and more exciting than agency pitches I have seen for a hundred, maybe a thousand times that amount of money.

So well done to Santini Basra, Steven Payne, Eloise Foster-Smith, Yee Ruh Ooi, Alice Gunn, Struan Wood and to their Professor, Gordon Hush for such an exciting presentation.

What's the best place to go for creative and innovative ideas?
From left to right: Gordon Hush, Santini Basra, Steven Payne, me, Eloise Foster-Smith, Yee Ruh Ooi, Alice Gunn and Struan Wood.

I wish you all the very best for the future.

And do you hear me big corporate enterprises? If you end up employing one of these guys one day, don’t you dare stifle their creativity with bureaucracy and governance.

And if you are thinking of spending a fortune on an agency, why not try some students first, and then refine their ideas with an agency later? That’s what I’m going to do. I bet I end up being disappointed much less in future.

Your turn: I would really like to hear your stories about new creative and innovative ideas. Where do you go for inspiration. What’s the most unlikely source of innovative thinking that you have found. Please leave a comment below or paste a link to your own articles.

Where can you find raw product design talent and exciting marketing development ideas?

Isn’t it a shame how good creative ideas for products or marketing campaigns are often smothered by the politics and bureaucracy in big companies? If I’m ever worn down by an never ending conveyor belt of IT, Compliance and Risk people who have an endless list of “Why Nots”, I look to the graduating students in product design at The Glasgow School of Art (GSA) for inspiration.

For the last few years I have been a judge (for Service Design Network UK)  looking at the top four projects that the finalists have created. We select a winner based upon their 10 minute presentation (makes me feel like a Dragon in the Den) and their business and marketing plans.

This is raw product design talent. It is a hot-house of creative marketing development ideas. I am always overwhelmed by their enthusiasm and drive.

This year I saw:

Lizzie and her Tempting Tastebuds. Lizzie made a remarkable leap to reach her idea. Having seen a Marks and Spencer competition to design a special picnic – she came across an article entitled “Chemotherapy is no picnic”. Further research revealed such treatment suppresses people’s appetite.  So it prompted her to design a range of highly nutritious meals that could be eaten in small amounts. She researched the recipes and designed a whole selection of packaging and a marketing campaign to go with it.

GSA product design talent marketing development ideas

Daniel and his Hermitage luxury portable hotel rooms. Daniel had spotted a trend for increasingly high end luxury hotels. But what happens if the remote lake you want to visit does not have any accommodation? Hermitage is an idea for a portable luxury unit that is helicoptered into the desired location. I was particularly impressed with his self produced TV advert which in my opinion was of broadcast quality.

GSA product design talent marketing development ideas

Fi and her Make/Work matchmaking service for suppliers and producers. Fi had identified a problem faced by people who make things (clothes or just about any product you can think of) being able to easily source local raw materials without hours of Google trawling. Her Make/Work website brings the two together very easily. And Fi has personally created a huge network of contacts. The idea is highly franchise-able.

GSA product design talent marketing development ideas

Phoebe, Flora, John and Luke and their Dementia Dog. The team built upon the principle of guide dogs for the blind and developed the dementia dog to help bring routine into the lives of Alzheimer’s sufferers. Not only have they created a Dementia Dog Website and a full business plan but have even secured investment funding to trial their idea for real.

GSA product design talent marketing development ideas

It was a close call but we awarded the prize to the Dementia Dog project. Talking to the graduates afterwards over a beer, I was again taken by their creativity and passion. I wish them all well deserved success in their careers.

GSA product design talent marketing development ideas

Me and Dr Gordon Hush with the finalists

When they encounter their own never ending conveyor belt of IT, Compliance and Risk people who have an endless list of “why nots”, I hope that their ideas and ambitions prevail.

Over to you: What’s the best new idea you’ve heard about for a new product or service? Or have you got any funny stories about how you have persevered against the “why nots”? Please leave a comment and share your experiences.