Creativity vs. Clarity.


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One of the many marketing newsletters I received this week came from Marketing Sherpa. The guest-written main article was a lesson on crafting the right “subject line” for your emails that would generate the highest “open rate.” Good information. But it was the title of the article that really got my attention: “Which performs better: Creativity or Clarity?”

That got me thinking. Are there really folks out there who view the whole clarity/creativity dynamic as “either/or?” Who somehow think if something is “creative” that it can’t be “clear?”

To most of us in the business, being “clear” is actually the first consideration when being “creative.’

In its most basic form, creativity is “making the mundane interesting.” In an era where we’re overloaded with both targeted and random messages coming at us from all quarters (by some estimates as many as 5,000 ‘selling’ messages each day), making your communications interesting is a must. Unless your marketing offer is so unabashedly attention getting on its own (“Cure for cancer, just $10!”), you’re going to need some help rising above the pedestrian drivel our well-honed BS filters are good at keeping on the periphery of our consciousness.

Granted, there are practitioners who’ll go to any length to get your attention, even if the way they earn your attention has nothing to do with their actual offerings or benefits (Go Daddy, anyone?). Such practitioners are actually doing a disservice to both their clients and the public at large. As ad legend Bill Bernbach once said “It makes sense to run an ad with a man standing on his head only if you’re demonstrating pants that keep things from falling out of the pockets.”

True creativity doesn’t conflate with clarity. It builds from the Universal Truth of a product or brand, and presents it in a somewhat unexpected yet memorable way. This alchemy that creates something that is both clear and creative is most definitely the “heavy lifting” of our profession.

On some occasion, a marketer may shy away from a “creative” solution because he feels some readers/viewers might not “get it.” But as I mentioned in a guest post some time ago, it is poison to create for the dullards. This recent spot for FedEx is an example of how you can be creative without leaving the masses in the dust. It unmistakenly communicates “FedEx provides small businesses a competitive advantage,” but it does it in a way that is fun, memorable and relevant.

Be clear. But be creative. It’s not either/or.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Mickey Lonchar
Mickey Lonchar has spent the better part of two decades creating award-winning advertising with agencies up and down the West Coast, Mickey currently holds the position of creative director with Quisenberry Marketing & Design, a full-service advertising and interactive shop with offices in Spokane and Seattle, Wash.


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