Forget Creative Predictions. This Is What 2022 Is Feeling Like to Me
Who can predict stuff, anyway? It's more about how we react to things in the moment and how we feel about them going forward that is going to help shape creativity. That's why I don't really like making New Year's resolutions or fancy predictions about the year ahead. Instead, with two months of 2022 down, I wanted to share some of the things that are resonating with me.
Staying in school.
In an industry as ever-changing as ours, we all have to be constantly learning and upskilling to make sure we can deliver work with impact. But there seems to be an infinite amount of information out there about our industry. It can be overwhelming, so the trick is to focus on what interests you, and not what is getting the most chatter.
Whether it is participating in internal agency learnership programs, signing up for industry events or tapping into platforms outside the agency world, staying sharp between the ears is a must. At worst, you will always be able to break that awkward brainstorm-session silence with something interesting to say. It is also crucial to learn by doing. Just go out there, try things, make things, build things. Let's face it, it's cooler to be the interviewee on a podcast than the listener.
Letting your mind breathe.
Have we become too accustomed to being in flux? Goals and targets are still important, but we should refocus some of our energy on letting our minds breathe. Our days consist of continuous meeting blocks, running from one to the next. We have to carve out space to just think and let the mind wander.
Dedicating a portion of your day to thinking, without distraction or the pressure to achieve results, gives you an opportunity to take back a bit of the control from the systems running you. Having thinking time in our calendars, with no meeting agenda attached, allows for all of our random subconscious thoughts to come to light. We don't get enough of that anymore.
Remembering to stretch.
Shout-out to the amazing Alison Chadwick for this one. Over the past two years, there has been a much-needed transformation towards putting health and wellness at the forefront. Prioritizing this and how it drives performance is something that should remain central to any business, creative or otherwise, moving forward. But balancing this with our industry's insatiable desire for what's next presents a dilemma.
We live in the "uncomfort" zone, but this can be a hard place to stay in when you're facing burnout. The tools and skills we have gained by prioritizing mental and physical health should enable us to fortify ourselves so we can put the pressure back on and stretch towards the new. Managing this balance is incredibly important when it comes to achieving goals, because stretching is how we grow.
Looking between the cracks.
If we are all consuming the same content, we're all moving along at the same speed. Look where others aren't for inspiration. Between the cracks of the mainstream, you'll find the innovators, the creators and the makers that are forging the new. Be the one to introduce the world to the faces and voices that are shaping the future. Small communities with a shared interest can propel your brand forward by bringing a fresh and unusual perspective.
An excellent example of this is the Gucci x North Face campaign with Francis Bourgeois, the U.K. trainspotter turned TikTok influencer. Trainspotting may be a niche hobby, but Francis has amassed over 2.2 million followers on TikTok. The partnership resulted in a bold, quirky campaign that tapped into a niche subculture in the most creative way. It goes to show that moving beyond what the algorithm is serving you will allow you to discover the unique talent out there.
Always on. Always open.
Web 2.0 and the rise of social media presented brands with the constant pressure of "seeking engagement" all day, every day. What's exciting about the next shift into Web 3.0 is that audiences will want to seek out experiences and spaces that align with their mindsets or moods, moving us away from an "always on" mentality into something more intentional. We need to think about how brands can be an inviting open door as opposed to a blinking neon sign. For example, there is the Vans World experience in Roblox where users can come together to celebrate all things skate culture, while participating in competitions and creating their own customized footwear.
There is a greater lesson for brands here, which is: "Experiences are everything." Instead of asking how we can target and engage our audiences, we can use this moment to ask, what experiences are we providing them?