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What does creative bravery really mean?

by | Jul 21, 2017

In the creative communications industry, we like to think of ourselves as creative risk-takers – breaking boundaries of expectations to impress, surprise and, most importantly, engage.

To find out more what bravery means to the creative industries, and how it might impact the work we produce, Now Go Create and creative agency Unity conducted research amongst almost 200 UK marketing professionals before we ran our bravery workshop at Cannes Lions last month.

26% of respondents work in design, the same again (25%), were from the PR industry, 12% work in advertising and 15% in marketing teams, with the rest working in digital,

According to our research, 41 per cent of marketers thought that creative bravery was about challenging the status quo, while 36 per cent thought it was about taking risks. A third (32 per cent) said creative bravery constituted not being afraid to fail.

Fear of failure which is suffocating our creative potential. 44% said fear of failure is the number 1 reason to avoid taking a creative risk, followed by fear of looking foolish (33%), and fear of judgement (30%). This could be why only one in five say that they are creatively brave ‘all the time’.

So we set out to understand what constitutes creative bravery, to help people face – and fight – their creative fears.

From facilitating our session these were some key observations that I took out of the session and the comments from our fearless attendees:

  1. Face your fears: Everyone has to face their fears at different points in the creative process and it’s important to understand which ones are your specific demons. Don’t let them hold you back
  2. One team one dream: Knowing your team has your back counts for a lot, so building relationships is key
  3. Build trust with others: Build a ‘reserve’ of trust with key people for when you need it. Don’t just hope it’ll be there at the crunch point – it’s a marathon not a sprint
  4. Build trust with yourself: Before you can ask others to trust you, you need to learn to trust yourself
  5. Don’t be put off if things don’t go smoothly: Even the most senior and prolific CDs and ECDs from some of the most respected agencies feel their bravery gets eroded. It’s an ongoing exercise in standing up for yourself and your point of view as well having a plan for when things don’t go right.

We undertook a whole range of activities in our 90 minute session, from working out what stops us being creatively brave, to facing some of our fears and trying to switch off our inner critic with improv exercises and collaboration.

Anecdotally people told us: “In a large organization like a Fortune 500 it is often not just about creative courage of an individual/team or agency, but also about leadership courage, trust and empowerment from leaders (those who hold the budget, the reporting line, or those who ultimately need to sign off on a “risky” campaign), including the CEO.”

“It is hard to separate creatively brave from just being brave enough to do something different or that hasn’t been done before. I think that qualifies as creatively brave.”

“I’d like to believe that PR agencies tend to foster more creativity, but there needs to be an atmosphere/work culture that allows employees to make suggestions and mistakes without fear of being reprimanded if the slightest things go wrong. Knowing that you have unconditional support for an idea makes taking the first steps to bringing it to life so much easier.”

“No one ever got anywhere by playing it safe.”

If you want to find out more or have us come to run a creative bravery workshop for your business please contact lucy@nowgocreate.co.uk

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