Creative15 Jan 2024Simon Druery

Unlocking the strategies and value of creativity

Is there a science behind creativity?

In the world of branding and marketing, there’s an ongoing push for a ‘creative edge’ – that unique idea or concept that sets a brand, business, or product apart in today’s attention economy. As an experienced brand or communications professional, you’ve probably come across creative output that feels formulaic or predictable, leaving you wondering if genuine creativity is as elusive as spotting a koala in the wild.

The truth is creativity often doesn’t come naturally or spontaneously. There’s a science behind it that’s brought to life by true collaboration, whether that be within your organisation or with a creative partner who gets it. In this article, we unpack the science and strategies that will help unlock creativity for your next project. 

The neuroscience behind creative thinking

The concept of creativity is hardwired into our brains. We know creativity when we see it, but while we have an intrinsic understanding of what it is, unlocking it doesn’t come so naturally. To better understand creativity, let’s consider the three distinct brain networks neuroscientists have identified as the key to creative thinking

The imagination network
Allowing us to daydream, this network helps us picture potential future scenarios, generate mental imagery, and consider perspectives other than our own.

The executive control network
This network regulates attention and working memory, allowing us to focus on a task and switch between different mental processes.

The salience network
Acting as a neural switchboard, this network helps you identify things you already know and link them to what you’re seeing or thinking in the present.

When these networks work together, we can connect ideas and concepts, link observations to what we already know, and imagine new ways to apply that knowledge. This creates the perfect conditions for creative thinking.

Our species is the only creative species, and it has only one creative instrument, the individual mind and spirit of man. Nothing was ever created by two men. There are no good collaborations, whether in music, in art, in poetry, in mathematics, in philosophy. Once the miracle of creation has taken place, the group can build and extend it, but the group never invents anything. The preciousness lies in the lonely mind of a man.
John Steinbeck - East of Eden

The myth of the lone creative genius

John Steinbeck, who was one of the world’s leading scholars on creativity, believed the lone thinker was the best representation of human creativity.

While romantic, this concept is incorrect.

In reality, connection drives creativity. Just think of how Steve Jobs collaborated with Steve Wozniak, John Lennon with Paul McCartney, and Michelangelo with Sebastiano. Often, it’s these connections between people that can generate powerful ideas that an individual simply wouldn’t have on their own.

The creative process

Now that we’ve defined creativity, it’s time to delve into the creative process. What steps can you take to generate new ideas and create genuinely novel solutions? Over our years working closely with clients, we’ve created and refined a structured yet flexible framework to unleash creativity. You’ll see that our framework places collaboration at its heart, ensuring that a range of perspectives are captured to enrich the creative output.

1. Discover
Gather the information and insights relevant to the project.

2. Understand
Dive deep into the objectives, audiences, outcomes, and success metrics.

3. Reframe
Make sense of the information and think of potential angles or approaches. 

4. Incubate
Allow ideas to simmer below the surface, giving the subconscious time to work.

5. Ideate
Produce a wide range of ideas – good and bad - without judgment. Collaborate with others to expand your ideas.

6. Evaluate
Assess which ideas are the most promising and best meet the brief.

7. Refine
Use creative tools to polish and perfect the ideas into finished concepts.

8. Explain
Demonstrate how and why the ideas will work.

You can use this process yourself, with your creative agency, or apply it within your own organisation when working with different teams. The key thing to remember is to separate the process of analysing and creating, and adopt a mindset where there are no wins or fails, only progress.

Creativity within reach

At Belong Creative, we know that creativity isn’t a unique talent granted to a chosen few, but instead an innate capability enhanced by collaboration, strategy and a supportive environment. When done right, you can create experiences that resonate, brands that are remembered and customers that keep coming back.

Ready to ignite the creative spark in your next project? Reach out to Belong Creative, and we’ll be in touch to learn more about your project objectives and how we can apply creative strategies to solve your challenges.  

Article by Simon Druery

Simon Druery is Director and Brand Strategist at Belong Creative. What gets him jumping out of bed each day is helping business owners and marketers craft brands that people want to belong to. When he’s not working you can find him travelling Australia in the family caravan and enjoying a tawny port by the fire.