Want to create a red-hot advertisement, tagline, or business name. . . but not quite sure where to start? As with most creative endeavors, concepting is virtually equal parts analysis and creativity. . . the trick is balancing the two. Make sure that you allow ample creative time and ample analytical time. . . but that they're not the same time. There's nothing flatter than a piece in which the creativity has been squelched by the analysis. . . and nothing more nonsensical than a piece in which the creativity railroads the linear thought. Hey, we've all seen the ads with Abraham Lincoln and the beaver.
Meet Your Match
Before you can ignite, you have to lay the fire and strike the match. In practical terms, this mean finding out absolutely everything that you can about the business you're concepting for. David Ogilvy, one of the early geniuses of advertising, once built a Rolls-Royce campaign around one small piece of information. . . that at 60mph, the loudest thing in the car was the ticking of the electric clock. It is in just this kind of minutiae that brilliance is born - so dig deep into existing materials, interview key stakeholders. . . and keep your eyes open.
Once you know all there is to know, it's time to kick start the creative process. Make a list of every word or idea that you associate with the company or product. This is not the time to second-guess yourself, wonder why you're making random associations, or think, “this'll never work. " It's the time to move your pen over your paper until you run out of steam, give the pen a quick chew, and start listing again. When you think you've listed every related word and idea, get out your thesaurus (or find one online) and see if you can't come up with at least twenty more possibilities. It's fine if no-one else would ever get the connection. . . no-one else needs to, yet.
The next time you run out of juice, try entering some of the words you like best into an online cliché finder or quotations resource. Keep jotting every idea down, even the ones you hate. Think of it this way - you might only have one good idea for every hundred ideas you jot down, but if you jot down five hundred ideas you have a healthy selection of five good ones to flesh out.
Control the Flame
So, this is the time to judge those ideas you've come up with. See if you can narrow your list down by four fifths, choosing only the cleverest and most workable ideas. Once you've made your new list, put each one of those ideas on its own page, and fill the page with different permutations and iterations of this idea. Distill those lists back down to 3-5 ideas.
Take a Nap
Or, if it's after midnight, just go to bed. Everything will look different after a little sleep, and your unconscious will be working the whole time. Beside, maybe Abe Lincoln will give you some feedback in your dreams.
Reese Minshew publishes the monthly Easy Newsletter, an e-newsletter that is chock-full of branding, marketing, and copywriting advice for the small-business owner. Content matters! Improve your sales, visibility, and market penetration as your copy comes alive. Find out how - for FREE - at http://www.goeasywriter.com