Words & Creativity

You don’t need to be a copywriter to understand that words can be very powerful. We all know that the pen is mightier than the sword. Yet we often falsely assume that the power of words only applies when talking about literature or politics. What most people don’t seem to realise is that words are also an important aspect of creative thinking.

My background is in graphic design and art direction, so it’s very easy for me to explain my ideas with visuals. However, I often prefer to use words only. Written or spoken. Our vocabulary is often perfect for explaining an idea.

Words can be inspiring and leave room for our imagination. Words are easy to recall, bring clarity, trigger new ideas and – most important of all – are personal. They are the way we think. They shape our thoughts and help to understand our own ideas and those of others.

Utilising words in a creative way will help to make your ideas more vivid. They help us to understand & explain our ideas and are a great way to engage people with complex themes.

It goes without saying that you should always try to stay away from jargon, unnecessary abstraction or corporate bullshit bingo. You have to be creative when you are explaining an idea or when you’re naming a project.

The same rules from the advertising industry apply in your business. A great name or slogan for your idea can help it to become memorizable. See it as the branding of your own ideas. If you give an interesting and original name to your idea, it’s likely that people will feel excited to help you realise it.

Give Your Idea A Title
People will identify more with your idea if they have a name or sentence to relate to. A title also helps to make it easy to talk about specific ideas. You can mention an idea without having to explain it (all over again) in detail.

Explain Your Idea In One Sentence
I know, this can be tricky. Sometimes an idea, project or situation is simply too complex to break it down to a single catchy oneliner. Yet in this high speed world where everybody has a low attention span, it can be a smart move to make your project more iconic. A creative slogan or tagline is also important for others that need to sell or pitch your ideas.

Oneliners are not just for advertising agencies and politicians. They are for IDEA PEOPLE. If you create a oneliner for your idea, you grab someone’s attention. Once you have their attention you have plenty of time to explain your idea in detail.

Watch Out For False Interpretations
Always check with your audience if they understand what you mean. If you don’t want to get into trouble it’s advisable to ask your audience to explain your idea in their own words. This way you can make sure they really get it. Apart from the interpretation of certain words, there is something else you have to take into account. Perception. It can happen that people like or dislike your idea for other reasons than you might expect. To different people words can mean very different things. Words are never neutral.

Play With Ambiguity
In Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) there is a term called “artfully vague” and it means using vague language with a purpose, to give people the freedom to give their own meaning to words. It has to do with hypnosis and our conscious and subconscious mind. Words are personal as I stated in the paragraph above. Sometimes it can be useful to stay vague about certain elements of your idea. If you allow people to create their own versions of your idea it’s much more likely that they will embrace it. People need the feeling that they can still contribute. It’s advisable to lose ownership of your idea as soon as possible. Rather make sure that everybody owns a piece of the idea. In the end people work the hardest for their “own ideas”.


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