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Stuck in a Rut? 7 Helpful Tips for Better Brainstorming

Every great advertising campaign has one thing in common: they all started with a creative brainstorm. From impactful TV commercials to memorable digital ads, the funny, the bold, the unique and the thought-provoking all likely began with a merge of minds.

Revolution Digital  |  October 23, 2018
Stuck in a Rut? 7 Helpful Tips for Better Brainstorming

Every great advertising campaign has one thing in common: they all started with a creative brainstorm. From impactful TV commercials to memorable digital ads, the funny, the bold, the unique and the thought-provoking all likely began with a merge of minds. But it’s not always an easy process. As with any professional meeting, there’s a possibility to go off-topic, lose momentum or miss exciting ideas.

At Rev-D, we’re constantly testing out new and different ways to conduct brainstorms that will spark creativity, maintain structure and involve parties who may bring unique opinions (and maybe even some snacks) to the table. So, whether you’re a part of a larger corporate team, a one-man or one-woman shop, or you’re working with a few others to conceive new ideas, consider these tips to help you to conduct a better, more productive brainstorm.

  1. Always Start with a Brief: To avoid off-topic tangents and confusion, always prepare a short brief to bring to the brainstorm. Include the brainstorm’s goal, KPIs, and helpful notes and details like budget, preferred medium, etc. This gives all participants a reference point, so they don’t have to waste valuable brainstorm time asking about the basics. If you pass out the brief to each participant, consider allowing them to use the blank back page for brainstorm-related doodling and ideas.
  2. Invite the Unexpected: Brainstorms can benefit from mystery guests! Instead of inviting just the usual suspects, which may consist of your immediate team or partners, throw in a wild card or two by including others who don’t usually participate. This allows for fresh ideas and unique perspectives from parties who don’t have such a close connection to the project at hand. Plus, it promotes a collaborative spirit from which all can benefit. Go ahead…invite your IT guy. He may surprise you.
  3. Write Down Everything: Whether you’re having a “rapid fire” session or well-organized roundtable discussion, always have a dedicated note-taker to write down everything—even the most far-fetched, never-going-to-happen ideas. Sometimes, all it takes is one word to spark a new concept. It doesn’t matter if these notes are taken on poster paper displayed around the conference room or on a computer, but they should be visible for the entire group to see. When everyone’s ideas are written down (even the self-proclaimed “bad” ones), it makes every participant feel like they’re being heard, which may prevent them from sitting on the million-dollar idea that they felt too foolish to share.
  4. Eliminate the Mob Mentality: For large brainstorms, consider breaking up the group into smaller teams to eradicate the squandering of ideas. Large groups can be intimidating, so it might be worthwhile to give participants a safer space in which they can voice their opinions. Have each group find their own location to brainstorm, and at the end of the session, regroup as a larger team to combine and review ideas from all parties.
  5. Play Mood Music: Brainstorms can be stressful. You’re typically on the clock and need to come up with a winning idea in 5, 4, 3, 2…but one thing that may help is music. Depending on your company culture, playing background music can help productivity. For optimal results, keep it:
    • Instrumental: which is better for concentration and attention (it’s all fun and games until your entire team is singing along to “Livin’ on a Prayer” and nobody is brainstorming)
    • In a major key: to keep the mood positive
    • At a fixed tempo and volume: for less distractions

    Perhaps a little bit of upbeat EDM can get your creative juices flowing.

  6. Teleport Yourself: Also known as “Teleporting Storming,” try escaping your rut by imagining you were in a different place or different time. Would you solve the problem differently if you were in your “happy place” rather than at your desk? Would you take more risks if you were more established in your career? If you imagine your circumstances are different, you may find a new path forward. If there’s a lull in ideation, pose these scenarios to the group.
  7. Create a Digital Idea Destination: Brainstorms don’t have to materialize in person! Modern technology makes it easy to host or extend a brainstorm beyond the conference room walls. Brainstorm-specific digital tools like Stormboard and Bubbl.us are designed to spark innovation and organize ideas among teams, making schedule constraints, remote participation and dead ends a thing of the past. It’s also worth considering creating a dedicated Slack or Skype chat where ideas can be shared after an official kick-off is over.

As a creative advertising agency, we pride ourselves on idea generation, on offering unique approaches and solutions to challenges, and at the heart of it— on connecting with our audiences through truly innovative campaigns. From healthcare to food and beverage, and baby products to beauty, we have experience developing insights-driven, 360° advertising campaigns across a number of verticals, bringing together some of today’s greatest minds in advertising to prove that we “get it.”

To see how Revolution Digital can help you develop your social media strategy, advertising campaign, television commercial or product launch, contact us at 973-539-2727 or email newbusiness@rev-d.com.

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