This might sound odd, especially coming from the project director of a full service creative agency, but you don’t need a creative agency to be creative.

Wait, what?!

Give me a chance to explain.

First, look up any creative marketing, advertising, or web firm. Go to our menu of services for example. Notice that our creative agency services are not simply limited to “Be Creative.”

Why? Because that would be an insult to you and jeopardize our integrity. For us to say we specialize in being creative, would be like you going to a restaurant and asking what is being served for dinner, and the chef replying unimpressively, “Food.”

The Best Creative Agencies Innovate

The Best Creative Agencies Know the Difference Between Creativity and Innovation

The best creative agencies innovate. There are a lot of people, creative agencies, and businesses in unrelated industries that readily create, but there are few that persist beyond creativity and successfully innovate.

Recently, I was introduced to an old (before my time, at least), still wildly relevant, critique on creativity while reading about autonomy and entrepreneurship in the best selling book In Search of Excellence: Lessons from America’s Best-Run Companies.

The quoted piece was written by Theodore Levitt and published by Inc. in 1981. It is titled powerfully and effectively revealing: “Ideas are Useless Unless Used.” You could end the discussion there, but we will keep it going for the sake of fun and to help better shed a light on what a creative agency does.

I have read Levitt’s analysis on creativity vs. innovation numerous times. In fact, I have felt compelled on a few occasions to recite the excerpt to colleagues and friends. I’ve always felt that when a quote is often quoted, there isn’t anything more on that subject that should be said. So I want to exercise Levitt’s own words here:

The trouble with much of the advice business gets today about the need to be more vigorously creative is that its advocates often fail to distinguish between creativity and innovation. Creativity is thinking up new things. Innovation is doing new things…A powerful new idea can kick around unused in a company for years, not because its merits are not recognized, but because nobody has assumed the responsibility for converting it from words into action. The proof of their value is only in their implementation. Until then, they are in limbo.

If you talk to people who work for you, you’ll discover that there is no shortage of creativity or creative people in American business. The shortage is of innovators. All too often, people believe that creativity automatically leads to innovation. It doesn’t. Creative people tend to pass the responsibility for getting down to brass tacks to others. They are the bottleneck. They make none of the right kind of effort to help their ideas get a hearing and a try…

The fact that you can put a dozen inexperienced people in a room and conduct a brainstorming session that produces exciting new ideas shows how little relative importance ideas themselves have…Idea men constantly pepper everybody with proposals and memorandums that are just brief enough to get attention, to intrigue and sustain interest—but too short to include any responsible suggestions for implementation. The scarce people are the ones who have the know-how, energy, daring, and staying power to implement ideas… Since business is a “get-things-done” institution, creativity without action-oriented follow-through is a barren form of behavior. In a sense, it is irresponsible.

Redefining “What is a Creative Agency?”

Most people define a creative agency as a company, primarily made up of creative professionals, that offer a combination of strategy, design, technology and advertising services to clients.

To me that says a lot, without really saying anything. We should redefine what is a creative agency. Simply, a creative agency brings the best, most lucrative ideas that you are intensely passionate about to life and fruition. We do this by:

  • Supplementing new and supporting ideas to expand your perspective(s)
  • Converting your/our words into action, beautifully
  • Moving you out of limbo by delivering the rare know-how, energy, daring, and staying power that successfully implements your products/services into its appropriate market
  • Bridging the gap between creativity, innovation, and release to create a fluid path to profitability

Don’t hire a creative agency to simply create for you.

More than likely, you already have a ton of great ideas. You don’t need a creative agency to be creative. Hire a creative agency to get your creative ideas from Point A to Point B, so your market can realize your true value.

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