1000 Heads

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Big idea first, technology second

by Tsieske on 08 February 2013

When I first started working as a creative we used to have something called The Overnight Test. The entire volume of our day’s ideas were scribbled onto pieces of paper and hung up around the walls of our office. Mesmerized by our own brilliance, giddy with pride, we’d leave them hanging there overnight, so that they could be addressed with fresh eyes and minds the next day.

IDEO famously use post-its to visualise and change their ideas.

It was the purest way to achieve good judgement, I thought. Cleared of any instinctive emotions and tired, clouded minds, concepts could be criticized of their worth in the cold light of a new day. Nothing else would influence our decision but whether it truly answered the brief.

Only once this elimination process was over, could we start crafting detail onto the idea. How could we best get it across? What exact wording could communicate our concept in the most engaging way? Could we use some interesting navigation scrolling to add intrigue; what sort of animation would help to highlight the most engaging features?

Recently however, I’ve noticed that the first and perhaps most important part of the process, taking time to nail the truly appropriate idea, is frequently becoming rushed or even eliminated entirely. Not just for me, but for a large part of the industry.

Brands are scared of looking slow off the mark; they’re also keen above all else to use some of the newest technologies and coding available on the web. The temptation is to find your gimmick or tool first and then to craft the big message into that at the last minute. It’s a huge mistake. You risk sacrificing the most interesting and hardest-working ideas in favour of fashionable execution details. Or, indeed, failing to nail down a message at all.

As American Architect, Louis Sullivan said  ‘Form ever follows function’. This also works for brands. Let your communication be amplified by the source it ‘s coming from. Let the message lead the voice you’re going to use.

This is at the heart of our approach at 1000heads. We’re not just about digital or social media. Nor are we restricted by pre-determined processes and packages or one-size-fits-all specialisms. In the cause of word of mouth we have produced giant sofas, Foursquare vending machines and augmented reality apps as well as Facebook pages or blogger events. This means that our work as a creative team can be challenging – sometimes we feel like we’re reinventing the wheel with every campaign – but it’s also deeply satisfying. Habits and laurels are banned.

The trick is to know and be able to harness what latest developments can add to an already great idea that relies on great insight. Not the reverse. Here are some of the campaigns that I have come across over the last 12 months that have managed it best.

1. All hail the VIP fridge magnet: the concept of the idea integrates so seamlessly with the function of what they’re trying to achieve.

2. The Wilderness Downtown: A narrative for a music video made more pertinent by personalising it by using the latest interactive web technologies.

3. Rivers of Light: the visual effect of the delivery of this campaign helps communicate the message of peace.

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