June 30, 2017

How creatively brave are you? Really?

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.

But what do we actually mean by creative bravery? And – if we really asked ourselves – are we as creatively brave as we could be? And if not – what’s holding us back?

To interrogate what bravery means to the creative industries, Unity and creative training business Now Go Create have conducted original research amongst UK marketing professionals.

According to the 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.

But conversely it’s fear of failure which is also suffocating our creative potential. In fact, 44 per cent cited fear of failure as the top reason for avoiding creative risk-taking, followed by fear of looking foolish (33 per cent), and fear of judgement (30 per cent). 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.

We asked Unity co-founder Gerry Hopkinson to tell us what make someone creatively brave. Gerry said: “There’s a difference between being brave and foolish. Bravery is about understanding the risks but having the courage to take them for a greater good. Figuring out how to execute bold ideas is our job and if anything, the future is going to demand more, not less bravery from all of us.”

Now Go Create and Gerry held a workshop at the recent Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity called #LambstoLions: The five questions every creative leader needs to ask, where they invited creatives from across the festival to find out how they can change from a ‘creative lamb’ to a ‘creative lion’. The session explored what it means to be creatively brave, how to overcome fears, strategies for achieving creative bravery, and lessons that can be learned from creative ‘heroes’ such as Elon Musk and Picasso.

From this session Claire and Gerry provided these key takeouts that, as marcomms professionals, should be On Your Radar:

  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.

If you’d like to learn more about increasing your creative bravery, or book in a session with Gerry and Claire, just email hazel@hellounity.com