Using Data to Heighten the Creative Process
It’s all too common for data to be seen as a creativity killer. To most creatives, the thought of analyzing content, numbers, charts and graphs has been seen as both a daunting and cumbersome process – an all out war against the design process.
But what if data could be the key to what makes the creative experience truly free?
With storytelling and user experience at the top of most brand strategies, data has become a necessary aspect of providing the right messaging (both visual and contextual) to the end user. Consumers are providing critically valuable information from the digital environment as they engage with brands, leaving a trail of signals. These cues, while backed in analytics, can help designers in creating rich experiential landscapes that exceed expectations across all platforms.
As much of an oxymoron as it may seem, creatives need constraints to tap into true innovation. Without some form of guidelines, end goal or material direction – the process can continue without resolution, and therefore continues to loop. Giving form to the process ensures that the ideas and material that make it to the top can be realized, turning into projects that can live and breathe.
Know The Goal
It’s tempting to jump into the process with ideas flowing and little constraints in place. Follow the process of a kick off and creative brief to understand fully the needs of the client and gather assets needed to work from. This is much like preparing for a marathon – you have to train and know what you are getting into, but in the end, it will be your own willpower and strength to make it to the finish line.
To truly leverage the data, you have to know what you are working with. With a clear understating of brand, product or service you are working with, study up on the available data. While it’s not recommended to become totally immersed in the data, its important understand it at a high level. Understanding who the user is, what the competition looks like, what the existing product or service is, what the problems are and so on will help to creatively problem solve formulate ideas around the true needs of the user.
This is where the fun really begins. Having all the facts in your back pocket allows the creative process to flow freely. There’s no big black hole of ‘where do we start?’ because the data has given enough information to begin at a mid point. Here, data is transformed into experience.
Don’t Be Afraid
Humor, fearlessness, spontaneity and risk taking. Even with the data backed process, all creative ideas can fail, and you cant be afraid to go to that place. Risk taking might be the biggest aspect as it tends to generate the most forward thinking results.
Step back from the process once ideas, visuals and narrative have been churned out. Evaluate the creative results with the initial goals and data to ensure alignment has been met, making adjustments where needed. This process should feel much like a puzzle coming together. Regroup with clients to review versioning and modify where needed. If the creative process has been fluid and the data true, the end result should be optimized for the user and client.
The bottom line is that creatives should not fear data. Analysis is an ally of the design process, allowing a more agile, transformative and all out fun process.3