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Januska On Blog

Creative Truth: All Bets are Off

These days to get the most bang for your marketing dollars you need outstanding creative to build and grow your brand. If you think you can get by with lackluster, safe design and stale, expected language you can count on being lost in the channel. The bar is high for the creative articulation of your brand. Really high. Sky high. Why? Because consumers and users have a sophisticated sense of what is “good.” Because the tools of creativity are in everyone’s hands, using baseline creative signifies your not in touch with where the space is today. Creativity and brand go hand in hand. It’s not frosting. It is the essence of your communications and the real reason people engage with you.

You can not afford to be safe. You can not afford to do what everyone else is doing. You can not be a “me-too” brand because in this marketplace your customers can go right to the first-mover, the best-of-class brand for whatever they want. The marketplace flattening out has made incredible opportunities for brands to compete up and down the channels. It is so easy for a potential customer to see their options that if they don’t like what they see, if the brand doesn’t convey the quality and strengths they offer, the customer can easily move on. It takes a whole lot of word-of-mouth to overcome bad creativity in the marketplace. It can be done but do you really want to work that hard?

Get a good creative strategy, one that lays out a clear vision for your brand. Then work with great creative people to bring it to life in a way that really makes your brand get the attention it deserves. Go all in. That’s when you win with creative.

Creative Truth: Get the Best Equipment

Get the best equipmentI have always worked for others who understood that having the best tools, investing in your craft and not skimping on what you need to get your work done always pays off. Whether it’s computer equipment or pens and paper, it’s always the same. Cheap tools mean more time and hassle later on.

I have not always followed this principle. I have learned the hard way that buying a used Mac that is already is behind in processing speed is never a savings. That getting ugly but inexpensive office furniture does not make me happy to sit in my office. That sticky notes that are not Post-it® Notes are worthless.

So get the best equipment. Do yourself a favor and get what you need. But I am not advocating extravagance. A great pen is great. You don’t necessarily need the most expensive pen out there. Get the right kind of paper for your printer. It makes a difference. And understand what tools are most important to you and which are less critical. Let that drive your buying decisions. Every purchase is an investment so put your money where you will get the best ROI. What’s my most important tool? It’s a tie between my MacBook Pro and my chair. I’m on both all day every day. That warrants investment.

Creative Truth: Embrace Problems



Creative Truth-Embrace Problems

A core part of my design training was to understand and love problems. Problems demand design. Since there are always problems, there will always be a demand for designers because our purpose is to create solutions to problems, especially solutions that are beautiful and smart.

I keep a notebook of problems. I got this idea from ThinkerToys, one of my favorite books on creative thinking and problem solving. I write down what problems I see, what problems I hear about and then I write out as many ideas as possible to solve the problem. I go for 40 (that’s the length of my notebook page).

Besides forcing me to think more broadly, this exercise gives me a tremendous amount of hope. Problems typically overwhelm and stress us out. They are depressing and spur fear. Getting stuck in a problem is the worst thing that can happen. When we are stuck we can’t move forward. Designers know that when you can’t move forward you can always move sideways. Design thinking is about taking a different direction to solve the problem, forcing yourself not to take the same direction but to move in the least expected one. That’s where the I find the wiggle room. In the wiggle room is where we find the solutions.

I love the focus on design solutions coming out of India. I was very inspired by my trip to India and the amazing design solutions I saw. In a country, much like the US, where the problems seem overwhelming and the imbalances seem extreme, I saw so many situations where design thinking, design craft and creativity provided to opening to change. That’s the beauty of embracing problems. When we embrace them, we think like a designer and we make design valuable.


On starting anew


Creative Truth-You Haven't Discovered What You Haven't Created

I’ve been looking for creative truths, principles which make the creative process, design thinking and visualization effective. Creative truths often overlap with other philosophical principals for good business, spirituality, sports, gardening or relationships. I like that these high level thoughts and ideas can be applied directly to doing better work, creating valuable stuff and making in general. Creation, as a process, underlies so much of what makes us happy as human beings.

So now I’m recreating my professional life by creating a new vision for my work. The new vision includes many principles and pieces selected from things I am good at, things I like, things people want and what comes my way. This creative process, like designing a website or a identity, has a general trajectory, but once it starts it gains natural momentum and moves forward organically. Agility and flexibility, openness and awareness to the process is great, but so is keeping focused on the core objective. My core objective is to create and build a business focused on bringing clarity and creativity to people and organizations lost in vagueness, to get better work and better results. It’s so easy to get lost in the details or overwhelmed by the vision. Everyone needs an approach to seeing what they’ve been missing, what’s getting overlooked and what desperately needs attention.

I know because that’s my story too. I’m very comfortable going a million miles on hour on the same road every day. There is security following the familiar path, until that path turns circular and we don’t get to see something new, nor do we get to see what we are missing. So, I hopped off my path and am striking out on a new one. Like any new venture, the unknown outweighs everything else. But the unknown can be full of fun surprises. I’m looking forward to building surprises for myself.

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