Six ways to approach 'the idea'

It’s all very well praising the virtues of game-changing creativity, but how do you actually come up with it? How do you hit upon that unique insight – and nurture that kernel of an idea to provide an original and successful platform for a brand?

There is no one way to do it – but we believe that the following six techniques and approaches divulged by industry-leading creatives at LIONS Live will help you on your way...

1. Get intimate with the problem

Mathias Wikström, CEO, Doconomy honed in on the need to get as close to the problem as you can to uncover all possible avenues for progress.

Echoing this sentiment, the Droga5 team also spoke of the extent to which they interviewed the New York Times journalists to really get under the skin of their work. By doing so they could do justice to their stories.

2. Imagine the brand as an operating system

Tiffany Rolfe, Global Chief Creative Officer for R\GA, explained that this is a technique her team employs in all of their work.

If you see the brand as a living, breathing operating system, you can check whether your idea is malleable enough to evolve with the business. R\GA even managed to apply this maxim to the typeface they developed for their client Evolved by Nature. The typeface is adaptable – it can be changed to synchronise appropriately with the tone and nature of different industries, from high-end fashion to healthcare.

3. Channel the power of reduction

When two of the world’s expert creatives cite this tactic, we all need to take note. Edit the idea down to its simplest form to ensure it is clear and comprehensive, and from there you can apply it to different situations and cultures. Yonathan Dominitz goes a step further to suggest a ‘sabotage / removal’ approach.

“Be reductive, then be expansive.”

Kate Stanners, Chairwoman and Global Chief Creative Officer, Saatchi & Saatchi

“This was one of the most important insights in my life. I could see in the whole design-thinking process – this reduction of the simple form to the single simplest idea possible, and then you make it big. As big as possible.”

Marcello Serpa, Former Co-Chairman, AlmapBBDO

When ideas are meant to be additive to brands and businesses, it may seem unnatural to be reductive, but it can be a powerful tool to provoke people’s attention.

4. Explore dynamic connections

Another thinking tool cited by Yonathan was the concept of ‘dynamic connections’ – the idea of creating a dynamic connection between two variables that might not naturally fit together. With "adDress the Future", this manifests as a physical fashion brand making digital clothing. In RBK Communications’ and Doconomy's work, meanwhile, the dynamic connection links the need to limit our consumption to the credit limit facility of a credit card. If you seek out possible points of tension or dynamic connections, you can reveal new values, benefits and experiences for the consumer. Of course, there is no point coming up with a brilliant idea if you can’t sell it in. Alongside techniques to create a robust strategy, the award-winners shared some tactics on how to sell in that big idea:

5. Pose the idea as a question

To sell the concept of a virtual fashion line – and the potential for the conversation that this project could incite – Virtue Copenhagen posed the concept as a question to their client.

6. Show the reality to sell in the idea

As the team at McCann Tel Aviv discovered when developing the "ThisAbles" initiative, sometimes you have to execute the final product in order to sell in the initial idea.


Collectively these points are a potent reminder that the creative’s toolbox is never complete. Each time you approach the brief, consider applying a radical new approach in the ideation phase - the dynamic connections exercise, or framing the issue as a question - to help bring fresh ideas to the table.

And a couple of final pieces of advice from Susan Credle, Global Chief Creative Officer of FCB and Fran Luckin, Chief Creative Officer of Grey Africa.

Susan Credle, Global Chief Creative Officer, FCB

Fran Luckin, Chief Creative Officer, Grey Africa

There are always new techniques and approaches which can help shape the next brilliant creative idea and they can come from anywhere in your business. Our next section delves into the overarching importance of collaboration in the whole process.