I confess, for a foodie it took me a long time to get smart to the whole greenmarket movement. For years my friends have been raving about urban farmers markets that appear and disappear within a 12-hour period, but I could never quite get it. You see, I was always in the mindset of coming up with a menu first, then shopping for ingredients. Trying to do that at a greenmarket means a lot of running back and forth and a lot of disappointment because they don't have every single thing. But what they have is in-season, fresh and wonderful. The lightbulb went on for me when I realized that to really benefit from the greenmarket, you have to shop first, then plan. You have to identify the materials with the best potential and then create ways to utilize them.
The relationship to creativity in design and marketing is pretty straightforward. If we try to plan out all of our campaigns and designs without "strolling through the market" first, without seeing what's fresh, what's new, what's lush and readily available, we'll miss out on great opportunities. Think about the "traditional" designers who had such a hard time adjusting to the digital revolution, or the marketing directors with increasing experience and diminishing results. They had their cookbook, using the same recipes and ingredients for years. They didn't see the new possibilities or realize that public tastes had changed.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that we should jump on every new fad that appears, or struggle to make something fit our needs just because it's hot right now. If I know I'm trying to serve up a dessert, you won't see me reaching for a turnip no matter how fresh it is (unless I somehow end up on Iron Chef or Chopped). If everybody seems excited about something, take a good look at it and ask:
- "Why are they so excited about it?"
- "What's really good about it?"
- "What could I do with it?"
I'm also not saying to forgo strategy and planning. Understanding the audience and the objectives must always come first. What I'm saying is that part of our normal creative process should be to openly survey the market and let the natural opportunities set our creative gears in motion. Inspiration is out there waiting to be harvested.