Create a storm, not a drizzle.


Image © 2016, Jim Godfrey Design, LLC

Lately, I’ve noticed a lot of articles and other resources themed around brainstorming, or activities that will strengthen your creative thinking. As a former art director and creative director, I’ve spent a significant amount of time trying to think of new ideas and concepts for ads and other marketing materials. Here are a few things that work for me. Perhaps they’ll do the trick for you, too.

Conduct some research. For instance, if you’re generating ideas for a logo, find out everything you can about the business or organization (especially meeting with the client), look at other logos within that category, wrap your head around your target audience (likes/dislikes, age, gender, trends, interests, etc.).

Conduct multiple brainstorming sessions of 30–60 minutes. Don’t try to do it in larger chunks of time, your brain will tire and your thinking won’t be as effective. It will probably take you at least 30 minutes before you get past thinking in clichés. Every once in a while, brilliance strikes right off the bat, but usually it takes more effort.

Incubate. Give yourself some time in between sessions to rejuvenate, digest what you have done, and gain a different perspective. Vary the time, place and surroundings of your sessions:

Remember: quantity drives quality. The more ideas you generate, the greater chance there is that you’ve come up with a great concept/idea.

Break your mind out of the doldrums. Sometimes we experience “designer’s” block. Here are a few ideas to break through:

Get some feedback. Make sure you talk with someone you trust and that you feel has good judgement. It could be a co-worker or a designer friend. There are also plenty of web sites where you can post your ideas and get feedback. One thing you may want to be aware of: if you are generating ideas for a client you may want to make sure it’s okay with them to post your ideas—you don’t want a client’s competitor knowing what you are up to.

Don’t stop thinking until you’ve got something good. Hopefully that’s before your deadline : ) BUT there’s nothing quite like a deadline to sharpen your senses and create intense focus.

If you’ve got some things that help you when you brainstorm, be sure to post a comment below.

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