When was the last time you took a good, hard look at the ads in some of the regular journals you receive? Or gone to the internet to see what other companies—in your own industry or in others—are doing? If you haven't, you may be missing some major trends, directions and ideas that can generate a breakthrough bonanza for you and your clients.
Creativity begets creativity. To increase your own ingenuity, you need to stay in touch with that of others, both in the US and around the world. The internet is a great place to start. Websites like StumbleUpon.com, for example, demonstrate great designs, artwork and concepts that may serve as a springboard for your own new creations. Some of the most inventive, creative concepts I've seen recently are coming out of places like India and China. It's important to give yourself the opportunity to discover the unexpected.
Sometimes the unexpected can be found in the world around you, so be aware of pop culture. To me, ads are the ultimate form of Pop Art—they are relevant for a short moment, then change with the times. It's OK to borrow from pop culture, as long as you make it your own.
Being creative also means stepping out of your comfort zone. While you can learn a lot by observing the work of others in the medical and healthcare fields, you can learn even more by seeing what other industries are doing. I like to look at what the major players are doing in other categories and use that work to inspire our creative team to reach new levels.
Stepping out of your comfort zone also means bringing a fresh, new perspective to your work. This means challenging yourself to do something really different—even if you're not sure it will work. It may also mean bringing new ideas and minds to a project. After working on a project for a long time, for example, you and your team may find it difficult to look at it any other way. If you rotate your creative team, you can often come up with ideas you might never otherwise have thought of.
No matter where your inspiration is found, you need to challenge yourself to reach beyond the expected and find new sources to keep the juices flowing. By taking the time to look around you, pushing yourself to be new and fresh, trying new approaches—even if they don't work the first time—and avoiding complacency, you will discover new solutions and surprises. Enhancing your creativity now, more than ever, is what will set you apart from your peers in the industry.
Kerry Hilton is CEO, HC&B Healthcare Communications