Why we have to transform from concept creatives to behavioural designers.
I was recently asked about the future of creativity in marketing. My simple response was: the future is bright. These are unbelievably interesting times in which creative problem solving has not only become more exciting, but also more necessary than ever before. Creativity and marketing can play a crucial role in solving social and behavioural problems. Not only giving creativity the power to change the world, but providing marketing with a new lifeline. Our best is yet to come. We just have to make one shift: we have to transform from concept creatives to behavioural designers.
Don’t get me wrong: we don’t necessarily have to save dolphins or hug trees to build business. But becoming more meaningful is inevitable and incredibly exciting at the same time. What is meaningful then? I think you are meaningful if you want to help people make better decisions; even if it takes you to change your perspective or rethink existing paradigms.
“I think you are meaningful if you are willing to help people make the choices that will benefit them today or will benefit their future.”
And I think being meaningful is not an option, but should be mandatory. We are all in the post-information age, meaning we all have access to knowledge and technologies acquired during the technical and scientific-information revolution. Not using the knowledge and tools to improve the lives of people, to me is the same as still stimulating a teenager to start smoking a package of cigarettes a day while being aware he will end up with lung cancer. We are not in the fifties anymore. We know things. Better still, as Ray Kurzweil states we are in an era of accelerating intelligence. The rate in which we require new insights and technologies makes ignorance or apathy inexcusable.
So, where do marketing and creativity come in? As I see it the world of marketing primarily revolves around the relationship between people and products. However, over the past few decades our piece of accelerating intelligence has occurred within the field of human psychology and human decision-making. Enabling us to gain deeper understanding of people between people relationships.
“This in-depth knowhow about how people choose enables us to broaden our creative problem solving to behavioural and social problems.”
Just think about what would happen if we would start-off our creative thinking in lowering psychological barriers? We would come up with ideas making it easier and more interesting for people to save money, eat healthy, get educated, travel with public transport, donate money, read books, use sunscreen or get insured. We would come up with services, products and propositions that actually help people. Putting marketing and creativity in a rewarding position to change the world.
And it makes sense us doing so. Like no other industry, we have years and years of experience in working with values; in creating something out of nothing; in simplifying problems, in coming up with new solutions and in making something irresistibly attractive. If we put this to work beyond advertising, magic can happen. Like no other we can make science become relevant and beneficiary on a daily basis. Which is the key to creating meaningful business. But don’t get me wrong:
“We would still have people spend money, but we would help them make better and more rewarding choices in spending that money. Giving business and marketing a new lifeline.”
But apart from the business logic behind it, I personally find it very exciting that taking behaviour as a starting point opens up a myriad of additional possibilities to inject my creativity. And I think it is very rewarding to use my creative thinking to change the world without having to turn into Mother Theresa and become all Dalai Lama about my material possessions or making money. God knows we already have enough problems to solve. If our creative capabilities can make the world or even the life of someone even just a little bit better, easier, happier or healthier and in hindsight we are designated as the people who were part of human-centred revolution that connected behaviour with economics, I can feel pride in what I am doing.
All it took for me is the willingness to change my perspective and make the shift to becoming a behavioural designer instead of a campaign creative. Leaving me with thrilling task to re-invent myself as creative director, redirect creative output, re-shape the creative culture and redefine the creative process. But, that’s OK. Sometimes you also have to influence your own decision making by jumping across some barriers. After all, we are saving the world.
Want to see how we brought this behavioural design thinking into practice? Our recent First World Problem Pills case for the Dutch Aids Foundation is filled with behavioural design elements.
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