• Julian Watson

Research stifles creativity...really???

Updated: May 21, 2020

The use of metrics to provide benchmarks and progress checks is obviously a well established and successful technique. I am all in favour of using quantitative data in this way as it provides something solid to hold onto and provides a useful focal point within a business. It's also extremely motivating if the metrics are going up!

In reality these measures are cold, boring and hated by creatives - unless they are justifying a brilliant piece of work obviously! In the words of a Marketing Director I worked with...

I just don't like it. Data and research stifles creativity

In the next breath she was asking how her latest ad had performed on the tracker!

For me this all comes from a place of insecurity and lack of control. Creatives need space to breath and flow without the restrictions of a tight scope, but ultimately their work will have to be measured. It will need to perform.

This is why qualitative research is loved by advertising agencies as it is loose and open to interpretation, but gives them just enough evidence to head in a certain direction. It is exploratory as it should be.

Once you get past the creative stage you do need to measure the work though...so why not think of this earlier in the creative process? Divergent and creative thinking can be complemented by data and research rather than stifling it. Using it earlier as a sense check can be helpful as long as you understand the limitations and what it is there for. Quantitative research in particular is misunderstood. It is seen a definitive rather than guiding and is therefore polarising in its uses. Research in all guises is just a part of the solution and should never replace original thinking.

Embrace research for creativity and don't be afraid of it!

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