Creativity x Data

Nathan Cunial

Creativity is a cornerstone of any successful marketing campaign. With data playing an increasingly important role in defining marketing strategy and providing customer insight, how can we best utilise the minds and habits of humans to improve and evolve our marketing strategy and tactics? 

Marketing is all about creating campaigns that connect with and engage an audience. Finding the right balance between data, time, reach, and message is key.  But what is often forgotten are those crucial pieces in the middle of it all, creativity and empathy. Being creative is essentially being empathetic. Without empathy we are unable to really grasp what the best path is for eliciting  an emotional response from a customer, in turn driving action from them. In order to utilise the advantages of technology, big data or other modern avenues for data-led creativity, it’s important to understand how creatives can use data as an infinite source of inspiration and opportunity.

Empathy and knowing your customer

Once inspiration has taken hold, it’s time to create something for your customer. But who are they? What do they do? What are their interests or motivations/intentions? The more information we have available the better. The degree to which creatives can work alongside the data pulling out key values that will appeal to the customer is what makes the material its strongest. Finding the right way to grab someone, hold them and make them come back for more. It’s important as technology moves forward to not forget how important this step is. While the data might show you how the customer is behaving and potentially what the customer wants, they are not always ready to be told they want it. This nuance is vital. Humour, compassion, shock, joy, intrigue, nostalgia and other emotional reactions are always going to help with cut-through when applied with empathy and intuition, and in turn leave a lasting impression on your customers. 

Informed briefs based on a good mix of qualitative and quantitative data form an integral piece of information should be made available for the creative team to absorb. This enables them to form an accurate picture of the customer and in turn create a strong campaign message or concept that will resonate with the audience. Creatives use these resources to build empathy for their audience in order to take the right course of action. It’s important to understand how the audience feels when interacting with a certain ad, service, product or interface. The right use of tone, style, language and other visual cues to connect and achieve cut-through is based on the quality of the data supplied to them. Data puts us into the minds of the users and this allows us to analyse them, profile them, and build a roadmap to ensure we speak to them as a person, and not just a number or worse, as a mass population!

First you design, then you iterate

The more data you collect the more refined your output can be. This type of iteration is the same with all steps of the creative output. Being agile and iterating based on your data optimises your campaign and/or product performance. Staying on top of the data available rather than just using intuition or hunches allows designers to create better experiences and address behavioural changes directly impacts the bottom line. A few small tweaks to creative as you gather more and more information about your customers is vital. This type of agile design can give you a competitive advantage and matched with data throughout the creative process can result in better design outcomes. And let’s not forget, the best thing about data is that you can almost always collect more so it really is an infinite process and mindset. 

Data gives us an opportunity to think differently

Data gives us the insights to dive beneath the surface and see what's hiding. Often what's needed to really get through to a customer is something different, something unexpected or never seen before. Now more than ever companies need to trust creatives and to experiment in saturated marketplaces. We shouldn’t be afraid to fail! A small failure from a campaign where you tried something different may give you rich learnings and insights into customer behaviour, wants and needs and enable you to really succeed in future campaigns. Sometimes even a negative customer reaction can lead to an opportunity and if treated the right way, it can be turned around. Not everything should be measured in just leads or clicks, but more so measured in HOW and WHEN a customer reacted. Used iteratively and repeatedly over time, and carefully matched with empathetic creative you will quickly see how doing things outside the norm or a bit risky can pay off. Afterall, we often hero a growth mindset so why should creativity and design be any different?

The final say

Creative and design should be influenced by the science of data and information. In our experience, collecting and analysing data is the key to creating great designs and user experiences. Data should be part of the design process. Without any research or information, there is nothing concrete to support the creative process and designed output, which can leave teams stumbling  in the dark. People often see design and creativity as an art form rather than a science. This is far from the truth, especially when it comes to big data. It's both.

Creativity is a cornerstone of any successful marketing campaign. With data playing an increasingly important role in defining marketing strategy and providing customer insight, how can we best utilise the minds and habits of humans to improve and evolve our marketing strategy and tactics? 



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