I bet everyone remembers making up games in the playground, drawing hopscotch grids with chalk, drawing everything in chalk for that matter, and coming home when the streetlights turned on. Creativity was at the hearts of most people’s childhoods despite creative subjects like art and textiles being pushed aside for more educational classes in school.
Creativity has followed everyone in life; from their businesses to their hobbies, to the way they conduct themselves in society.
From Stocksfield Baptist Church leaving knitted chicks with chocolate attached to them around the local community during Easter this year, to my walk through the park to find that some kids had written several positive sayings on the floor with chalk, we use creativity to uplift one another. (I wish I had gotten photos of these two events but alas my hobby in photography has waned over the years, and the rain steadily washed away the affirmations of Live and Be Happy.)
Nearly a lifetime ago in 1977 Apple’s Steve Jobs gave us the inspiring phrase ‘Think Different’. It revolutionised the idea of thinking outside the box and celebrated all of those wild, seemingly impossible dreams that we have. Everyone took that phrase in its stride, especially during the lockdown when we suddenly had all of that free time on our hands.
On an individual basis, people turned to long-forgotten hobbies and new adventures. Taking long walks in nature and rediscovering photography is an example. Turning to the garden and making art with plants is another. Speaking of gardens and homes, people also tried their hand at DIY. I know from my experience that people took to making plant pots out of old pallets, giving their fence a new lick of paint or building sheds, greenhouses and other creations. And who can forget those adventures in the kitchen, making banana bread and sourdough?
You may have seen the opening of the Pocket Park in Prudhoe at the end of May, which is just an example of how small spaces can be transformed. Complete with a mural, which is illuminated during the night-time, and adorned with trees and chairs, it is designed to be a place for relaxation and to catch up. But it sure is a pretty and creative way of achieving that aim.
Businesses had to get creative during lockdown to maintain their trade. From turning to Animal Crossing islands to display their products, to fashion shows using dolls, we’ve seen digital marketing change over the last year. Video marketing and live streams were already popular, but Covid-19 made them almost essential. Small businesses held, and continue to hold sometimes, an auction-like tour where they displayed their offerings. People would then comment on the live stream or ring up to claim products, transactions taking place after the stream was finished. Vintage retailer Flea Circus is an example of this if you want to have a look.
Although Covid is slowly, and I mean slowly, receding from our lives, our worldview is forever changed. Creativity is always going to be key, to stay ahead of the competition from a business point of view, and to maintain our wellbeing.
So, how do we keep thinking outside of the box?
As a business think about your clientele, how could you expand that? Think about how your products could otherwise be used or how they could be helpful for more types of customers. Consider new ways of selling your product; many pubs have invented fabulous al fresco dining areas to maintain profits, and how to defend themselves from the British weather. Newcastle and the local area has been dominated by lovely looking tipis filled with tables, fairy lights and heaters just for this purpose. Try and partner with other businesses to get that push from their customer base. Think about automation to save some time in your busy schedule; things that you do every day can be done by a service, leaving you time to get extra personal with your customers in other ways. In addition, stay connected with your customers, let them know that you’re still here and if all else fails ask them what they want to see from you in the future. Identify gaps in your marketing strategy and see what others are doing. Can you benefit from dominating another social media site, or making more video content?
If you’re trying to be more creative personally much of those above concepts still apply. Turn to others to see what hobby’s they are doing. One of my friends recently got into crafts; knitting and cross-stitching, and conversations with them made me want to try it as well. Patience is key, you’re not going to become a master overnight and if something doesn’t work for you, then you can always try something else. Make a creative bucket list of things you want to try, for example, I’ve always wanted to take a pottery-making class – inspired partially by the film Ghost with Patrick Swayze of course.
Creativity is beneficial to all of our wellbeing’s. A 2012 scientific study found that creative people tended to live longer. How amazing is that? Their theory behind it was that creativity uses a variety of neural pathways in the brain, which when maintained can make the brain more robust despite old age. In addition, being creative means that you look at situations from all angles, which makes you a better problem solver than those who just look at it from a linear angle.
Being able to share your creativity can be vulnerable and opens you up to those around you. Failure is a part of the process, but failure is survivable. Once you figure that out, your confidence grows and that leaves you open to trying a whole variety of new things.
Art, crafting, or even changing marketing strategy isn’t just for those ‘creative-types’, because there isn’t such a thing as a ‘creative type’. We all can be creative, some more than others, and even if you think you aren’t artistically inclined you’ll be surprised at what you can do.
So, go on, give it a try and see what you can come up with. Think different and escape that box.