Think Inside the Box: Creativity from Limitations

We have all been told that to be innovative and truly creative we need to “think outside of the box!” Thinking outside of the box is progressive and ignites genius, right? Whoever said that had it wrong, we actually need to bring our ideas back in the four walls of the box. One of my professors once said, “The best creativity comes from limitation,” and I think he was on to something. As marketers we are limited by our budgets, consumers’ needs, deadlines, industry regulations, resources and the list goes on. However, these should not be approached as limitations to our campaigns, but rather opportunities to show that with little to nothing we can create memorable pieces and viral sensations.

With large corporate budgets, just about anything can be created by someone with little talent, but a true genius is able to make a campaign that is engaging and sticks with consumers without a budget. At TED2013, Phil Hansen said, “Embracing the limitation can actually drive creativity…We need to first be limited in order to become limitless.” Limitations aid us in being innovative and enhance our problem solving skills. When faced with challenges we are forced to think smarter, harder, and push ourselves to succeed. As we work from inside the box, we begin to look at situations from different vantage points, create new routes to success and find ways to change the infrastructure that holds us in.

The main reason to remain inside the box is to think from the perspective of the consumer. Often we start from our product and services and then think of the consumer, but inside the box, the consumer is the focus. Don’t begin the creativity process thinking about making a splash in the industry, but in your consumer’s mind and in their life. Today every firm is vying to have the next great viral campaign and they begin their processes thinking about audiences that are not their target nor are they their consumers. Limiting your thinking to your loyals and consumers will drive your creativity and increase their engagement with your brand. Forget the fluff and remember that working with less is more. Working from your limitations will actually help you grow.

While thinking of the limitations your organization possesses, explore ways that these hurdles add to the value of your company and help define your brand. Limitations allow us to prove that we are true brand storytellers, campaign architects and advertising creatives. Let’s step away from the computer for a moment and pick up a pen and paper and see what flows from us when are constrained to two 11×7 sides. When was the last time you wrote something without switching screens to browse YouTube videos or check your Facebook? We all need to step back in the box and embrace the walls that hold us in and learn to rearrange them to fit our company’s needs. See what works arise when you embrace your limitations as gifts and begin thinking from inside the box.

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