Good ideas take time. Great ideas take a little longer. In my early days as a creative director, a mentor once told me, “Don’t settle for your first few creative ideas, that’s level-one thinking. Why stop there when you could get to levels two, three or four, where the better ideas live?” He had a point. In the creative realm, whoever has the most ideas usually has the better idea.
Fast forward to the middle of my career as a creative director, and the arrival of the digital age. Everything got fast. Really fast. Clients expected their agencies to turn on a dime and launch brilliant campaigns in a fraction of the time. After all, we worked with computers that allowed us to deliver on shorter turnaround times. And we did. Routinely. Which is why I remember a client asking me an unexpected question about that time. He was new in his position and wanted the relationship to work well for client and agency alike. He asked me if we were getting enough time for creative development. He explained: “I want your best thinking. Not just the best thinking of a day or two. I want your best thinking of a week or two. Are we giving you enough time for your best?” When I stopped bear-hugging him we had a good talk about what would be beneficial, but I loved his perspective. He understood and appreciated the fact that great ideas take a little time.
Here’s some good advice whether you’re on the client side or the agency side: Build in some time for what we call concepting or ideation. Let it be informative, but not definitive too early. Encourage your team to explore more ideas, more audience insights, more concepts, more solutions. And then, as a respected co-worker often said, “Give it the overnight test.” Look at your ideas in the morning with fresh, objective eyes. It takes a little more time, but it’s worth it.