Intuition: A Creative's Secret Weapon

[This is part two in a three-part series about the anatomy of an advertising creative’s mind.]

Intuition is a powerful thing. It’s instinctive and immediate. It’s a creative person’s secret weapon. They let it guide them far more often than noncreative types.

Sure, there’s a place for calculated, rational thought. But only as a compliment to creative intuition. When it comes to brainstorming ideas that enable a brand to connect to an audience, intuition trumps rationality almost every time.

Intuition says, “Yes, that’s it!” Rationality says, “Wait and see.” 

Intuition says, “I’ve never seen that... let’s do it!” Rationality says, “It’s unknown and unprecedented... I’m afraid.”

Intuition leverages experience. Rationality leverages caution.

That’s not to say that intuition is always right. Sometimes we get excited about ideas that turn out to be duds. Or we become fixated on an image, phrase or song, that alone isn’t an actual idea. And sometimes rationality proves that our intuition is flawed, especially in a rapidly changing world. But intuition is right most of the time.

I view intuition as an emotional response. Consequently, the emotional part of our brain, the amygdala, is what humans use to make purchase decisions. So says science. Perhaps that’s what makes intuition such a powerful force in developing ideas that resonate with consumers. Creatives are simply tapping into an inherent pathway to connecting with other people.

But translating our emotional intuition into coherent language is challenging. A different part of the brain governs language. Which is why so many creatives fail to clearly articulate themselves. So they’re often perceived as idiots.

Creatives that develop their communication skills have a huge advantage. It makes them better salespeople, which is an immense asset. The key is making your argument simple and devoid of B.S.

They say the most effective creative leaders are usually not the most creative. I’ve found that to be true most of the time. Perhaps because they’ve better developed their language skills while the strongest creatives struggle to find the words.

The sweet spot for a creative person is a nice balance between a highly developed intuition and an ability to communicate. Chances are, you've got a strong intuition so here’s how to become a better communicator:

1. Talk. There’s no better way to learn to communicate than talking more. It’s not an easy thing for introverts, but absolutely necessary for true success. Join a speech club. Or start your own club. 

2. Read. The more non-fiction books you read, the more you absorb and adopt convincing language. And how to form concise, compelling arguments.

3. Write. Express yourself in writing. Start a blog. Or type out your arguments, privately, to practice the language of salesmanship.

4. Befriend. Find a person who excels at making convincing arguments and learn from them. Ingest. Emulate. Practice.

Because it’s so nebulous and enigmatic, we rarely talk about intuition. Especially in business, where science and data rules. But intuition is the guiding force behind the most successful brand initiatives. Without it, we’d merely be repeating formulas robotically and boringly. 

Develop your creative intuition. Expose yourself to more of the world. Art, music, photography, culture, history, and so on. Consume, consume, consume. Then, learn to articulate yourself in convincing ways. You’ll be paid back in spades. 


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