The Advertising Creative Concept

Creativity is the soul of advertising.

It’s the fundamental concept that drives business success, giving life and meaning to messages about a brand’s products and services. And if you’re not being creative in today’s competitive business world, you’re probably missing out on many great opportunities to stand out in an almost-assuredly saturated market–regardless of what category you’re in. Unfortunately, generating creative ideas is really, really difficult.

Did you know the human brain is designed to effortlessly generate thoughts and ideas? It’s estimated that, on average, our mind processes 2,500 – 3,000 thoughts per hour. That’s nearly 100,000 thoughts and ideas per day!

But how do we leverage those creative ideas to boost business growth?

One way is through creative concepts!

So, what is a creative concept in advertising, and why do you need it in your marketing campaign? Keep reading to find out. This article will cover everything you need to know about creative concepts, including how to develop a creative advertising concept.

What Is a Creative Concept?

A “concept” is an idea based on insights gained from research or tests that present the foundation to achieve a competitive advantage. In its most basic form, a creative concept is an “overarching” big idea. It’s the story behind the message presented in an ad.

The goal of a creative concept is to influence an audience, pique their interest, inspire them, and elicit an emotional response. It’s an all-encompassing theme that can be applied across all your campaign messages, CTA, and communication and even embodied in your visuals.

A successful creative concept must be:

  • Memorable
  • Distinctive
  • Unifying
  • Relevant

When planning a distinctive creative concept for your campaign, ask yourself: What’s the big idea? Are your headline, copy, and visuals supporting this big idea? This way, you’ll clearly understand how to structure your concept.

Need some inspiration? Check out some Clio-award-winning creative ads here.

Why Develop a Creative Concept?

The content (texts, imagery, and videos) of your creative concept strikes a chord with your target audience. It reflects what differentiates your brand and gives it a competitive edge.

A strong creative concept is a great way to connect your business with your target audience in an impactful way. Additionally, developing a strong creative concept is also critical because it allows marketers to:

  • Idealize concepts that tie the whole campaign together
  • Gain visibility into how the campaign works across channels
  • Test what benefits are more appealing to an audience
  • Engage the audience more by conceptualizing “big ideas” that resonate with them

Woman leading a creative marketing and advertising brainstorm meeting.

Steps to Developing a Creative Concept

Where do you even begin with a creative concept? Well, there are a few steps to use as a guide. To develop a creative concept, simply follow these steps:

1. Start with a Creative Brief

A creative brief serves as a blueprint or road map for developing creative concepts.
This brief will identify the goals and the resources available (and needed) to achieve those goals. It provides a clearer picture while presenting all the challenges expected along the way.

2. Select a Brainstorming Team

Form a team to conduct creative concept brainstorming.
Ideally, you want individuals with different backgrounds and experience levels, as this will allow you to generate various ideas from different perspectives.

3. Organize the Brainstorming Session

Arrange the place and time for the session and communicate the info to all the participants. Ensure the room is equipped with the relevant brainstorming materials—whiteboard, flip chart, pens, and markers—and that the room is in a quiet location.

Also, make sure to prepare the participants mentally for the task. You could give them topics to read about in advance or encourage them to do certain activities before the session.

4. Treat it Like a Game

Brainstorming should be fun, but like any other game, there should be rules to follow. Have the team leader explain the rules before the session starts. Typical rules may include:

  • Only one person can speak at a time
  • Switching off mobile phones to minimize disruptions
  • No comments during the brainstorm

The facilitator then presents the problem statement and key points from the creative brief. Participants then share a summary of their research findings, which forms the ground for the “big idea” generation.

5. Ideation

The facilitator gives each participant a set amount of time to voice their ideas and put them down on paper (sticky notes).
Next, the participants form small groups and expand on those ideas. When the time is up, one participant from each group should present the ideas. Here, other group members can ask questions and take note of the strong points.

6. Refining Ideas

Once all groups have presented their ideas, the facilitator leads the participants in a small exercise to identify two or three of the best ideas.

7. Check the Feasibility of the Selected Ideas

Once you’ve identified the strongest ideas, you’ll want to check their feasibility. You’ll want to know whether the idea can influence your audience, be promoted through communication channels and whether you have sufficient resources (finances) to support it.

8. Testing the Concept

Lastly, the creative team develops the selected concepts visually and verbally for testing on their audience’s favorite platforms. The concept can be rolled out across social media or presented via a storyboard for a TV spot or radio.

Creative brainstorming meeting.

The Bottom Line: Creativity & Advertising Go Hand In Hand

A great creative concept forms the basis for all your campaigns, commercials, and content strategy. It’s not only the foundation of a successful marketing campaign, but also the bedrock for successful digital products and services. And if you need help with creative concepting and brainstorming, give Mandel Marketing a ring.

Need help with creativity? Check out An MFA For Your MBA, by Phillip Scott Mandel, a book about writing and creativity in business.