Why You Shouldn't Think Outside of the Box

"It isn't creative unless it sells" Wells, Burnett & Moriarty

It’s commonly thought that creativity implies a freedom to think outside the box or to find a unique idea no one’s yet had.

In fact, creativity does bring new ideas to life; however, creativity ideally works under certain patterns or foundations. In the following article, I’ll share four different foundations that can help any business achieve new heights of creativity.

1. The Inversion Foundation

What would happen if...?

At least theoretically, advertising effectiveness is best when there is some level of intimidation (not too little and not too much).

For example, to show you something you're used to, like milk, and then suddenly suggest it does not exist, thus makes you appreciate the product. The idea is an exaggeration, to avoid the cliché. Thus we highlight the importance of the product.

The inversion foundation is best used when focusing on situations that illustrate the absence of basic products (milk, water, electricity).

The Inversion technique presents a consumer with a “what if” situation, which shows them what life would be like without the basic product. The situation may be funny or absurd. The goal is to create a “sticky” memory association for the consumer that makes them remember the product and its importance in their life.

The inversion tool is not as effective for marketing a basic product that doesn’t offer distinctive features and benefits over similar products.

The following example advertisement deals with an institute that teaches Spanish. The ad focuses on the social aspects of not learning the language, rather than on such benefits as cultural adaptation, the advantage when traveling to Spanish speaking countries, etc.

2. The Unification Foundation

Making New Use of Existing Resources

The unification foundation enlists the use of an existing resource to carry the advertising message. The unification tool allows for creative use of a medium that’s common and taken for granted, using the medium’s specific attributes to focus on the aims of the advertisement. This method helps to instill a focused long-term memory in the consumer’s mind.

National Geographic's escalator ad explains that pretty well:

The Medium Resource as Opportunity

The unification tool uses a common medium in a way that’s not usual or normal, surprising the consumer with a small shock that catches their complete attention. As a result, the consumer will remember the message associated with the product. Each encounter with the product’s message reinforces the long-term memory association with the product.

The Environment of the Medium as a Resource

The unification foundation can also use the environment of the medium as a resource to convey the product’s message in a unique way. Anything in the medium’s environment can be creatively used to promote the product.