Clarity vs. Creativity

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the value of creativity versus clarity. Let me explain.

Many a brief starts with a request for a creative solution to a communications problem, which is often a lack of interest in what the client is selling. It’s not appealing enough, everyone says. What we need is a concept capable of grabbing the target’s attention. We need to talk louder.

But when I start digging into what needs communicating, I often discover confusion. The offering, whether a product or a service, is inelegant, befuddling, underwhelming or all three. It’s full of asterisks, caveats and conditional language. It’s neither clear nor compelling. It needs to be said more clearly.

The problem arises when I try to get the concept to jive with the content. Often the concept, no matter how strong it is, it ends up being a cache-misère because the offering isn’t up to par with the creative.

I know where the problem comes from: everyone prefers to spend time being part of the next great concept rather than knuckling down on defining a clear and compelling offer. It’s the difference between dining out and working out, between spending and saving. One is fun, the other is tedious.

But the effort can be well worth it. So increasingly I’ve been making this plea: the next time you decide to revamp your communications, think about investing in some clarity too. Focus on getting the simple stuff right. Get rid of the lazy language and cut-and-paste verbiage left over from previous product teams. Iron out the incoherences. Tidy up the loose ends. Your offer will be leaner and stronger, which in turn will make the creative stronger.

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