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Where do ideas come from?

If you’ve ever been put on the spot to come up with a ‘game-changing’ idea right there and then, you’ll know that not all ideas are created equal…

If you’ve ever been put on the spot to come up with a ‘game-changing’ idea right there and then, you’ll know that not all ideas are created equal… However, when it's not just an ad hoc momentary demand and is instead your job to come up with great ideas, we find ourselves marvelling at where these ideas come in an attempt to pinpoint the origin of those fantastic ones. It’s a topic that we could endlessly explore, but, for now, we’ve got a quick intro into our stance to challenge you, the reader.

Here at Together Agency, we are creative thinkers mixing behavioural science and our team's concepts to go beyond the brief, disrupt the marketing space and create the most powerful experiences.

So, we’ve taken a moment to sit down and dig deeper into the world of creativity to talk about where ideas actually come from. There are many different views on whether they come from the mind, the soul, or even whether anything is truly a new idea. This question has had philosophers and psychologists debating for centuries and will continue to cause discussion for many years to come. Unfortunately, Descarte’s team were unavailable for comment when we reached out, so we’ve spoken to the next best person - our creative director, Anil, as he's given us his thoughts on the question.

The process of thinking creatively every day is as challenging as it is rewarding. Entire campaigns, launches and products can hinge on whether you nail that next big idea in time.

No one has ever had an original idea - it just doesn’t exist

Firstly, where do you start? Anil explained that he believes that ‘no one has ever had an original idea - it just doesn’t exist’. As we draw learnings, both consciously and subconsciously from just about every experience we’ve had, pinpointing the origin of inspiration is near impossible. Everything we’ve ever seen, spoken about or lived through is stored in our brains; so as you talk about a new project, you will have usually already seen or experienced something similar and jump straight to thinking about that. For example, if you had a project about a food producer you would think about top organisations like Nestlé or Unilever and their umbrella of brands, thinking about past advertising campaigns they have run, your personal experiences with the products and the surrounding discourse in your everyday life. Without realising it, you’ve already started the process of thinking of your next concept.

Anil LR

When you start new projects, one of the first things we’ll naturally do is look for that spark of inspiration and for people already doing what you’re trying to achieve. Because let’s face it; if someone isn’t already doing/creating something the same or similar, is there a demand for it out there?

Everything is a remix

As we dig deep into our minds, finding experiences that can work for a new concept, we’ll naturally look to adapt them to fit the project. This leads to Anil’s follow-up comment: ‘Everything is a remix’. Creative geniuses realise that they have taken inspiration from other people's ideas/concepts and adapted them to fit how they need them for their creatives. It’s not necessarily a bad thing - drawing inspiration is a core part of creating anything new, and, as long as you’re not copying an idea, it’s an integral part of the evolution of any creative community.

Quentin Tarantino is one of the best known examples of someone openly embracing the process of adapting other people's work to create their own masterpieces. He mashes up (or ‘remixes’) movies and concepts that are already out there into his own and you can see these references in nearly all of his movies. The most well-known film of his to do this is Kill Bill; there are at least ten different movies referenced in his well-known title. Love or hate his work, there’s no denying that Tarantino is a truly dedicated fanatic for good film. His decorated discography of movies is a testament to how engaging ‘remixed’ creativity can be.

Overall, we’re pretty clear - just about every idea is never completely new. Instead, we see them as a spin or mash-up of previous lived experiences. The real trick is how you use your thought patterns to turn these concepts, that already exist, into new ideas and mould them into something that ‘feels’ new. There are many techniques to build out new ideas such as mood boards, market research and storyboarding.

For us, storyboarding is one of the most important aspects of a new concept, as this is one of the main ways we get our thoughts and ideas down on paper to be able to share. It’s vital for us as a team to see the concept come to life, and ultimately, it’s necessary to make sure we have stakeholder buy-in.

If you’d like to see some examples of our storyboards in action, visit our socials to see some awesome before & afters. One of our favourites from the last year that shows how a ‘new’ idea can turn from a flash of inspiration, to a storyboard, to a finished piece was this commercial we created for Red Letter Days.

You can read the full case study here.

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