Creativity & Innovation in Marketing Communications

Kehinde Salami, CEO at Ideas House, pens a position paper on how creativity and innovation will help change the game in marketing communications.

Kehinde Salami

According to the World Economic Forum top 10 skills, Creativity will become the 3rd most essential skill by 2020 behind Complex Problem Solving and Critical Thinking compared to 2015 when it was adjudged to be number 8. This phenomenon is real, and we have already started to witness the dire need for creativity and Innovation and the significant impact they seem to have on shaping world economic order


Creativity is thinking new things, the ability to develop new ideas and to discover new ways of looking at problems and opportunities. It’s three components being Expertise, Motivation and Creative thinking. You have to develop the mindset for imagination as this will greatly enhance your ability to dream, act and perform great exploits. Once you can begin this all-important step, then you have begun the journey to greatness leading you to glorious destination, that being Innovation

Innovation is a business affair. It is the commercialisation of a creative idea or a process. For example, whilst a man passing needle through his ears could be defined as creative, he only leap frogs to innovation when that particular idea commands a monetary value i.e. paid for.

The four lenses where both disciplines have found commonality is around understanding needs, challenge conventional thoughts, launching of an award-winning product/service and by doing so, set trends. Specifically, over the past 20 years in Nigeria, citizens have seen a significant shift from incremental applications, to a more distinct evolution and now revolution.

Take the Lagos transportation system for example. The Yellow taxi as commonly known was an incremental application to an existing system of commuting appealing to existing users via an existing offering. As we trotted along, Metro Taxi and P.O.D taxi if you can all recall came into being. This can be best described as evolutionary as it appealed to a new group of users. Several years on with their perennial issues, UBER and Bolt came into the fray dialling up a completely new offering to a new group of users. This is the power of creativity and innovation best explained in simple terms.

We can decide to go deeper and farther using other pristine examples such as the banking industry products and services amongst other interesting developments across sectors but would rather leave you with this simple analogy for reference and comprehension.


Often ‘creativity’ and ‘innovation’ are used interchangeably. However, there are fundamental differences. While creativity is essentially the process of coming up with a new idea or solution or alternatively, an extension to an existing idea, innovation on the other hand is when that new idea / solution is developed into a commercial venture. It’s important I once again make this distinction so that we can all be clear on the definition and role that each play within the larger academic stratosphere. In summary, creativity is an essential building block for innovation

The world has come of age and that evidence is no more served than peeping at the top 10 global companies, seven of which did not exist 20 years ago. Brick and mortar have shifted ground to a more technologically inclined business models and proposition. Our lives are shaped by these inventions and not a single day passes by when at least 50% of the world’s population are not either engaging, using and enjoying these varied services. Below are some of the brands that I believe are shaping us today in a manner consistent with creative excellence


In recent times, creativity and Innovation seemed to have also given birth to a new dimensional approach to problem solving via what is commonly referred to as Design Thinking. This framework was extensively explained by Matt with contributions from Innocent and my humble self. It’s a practice which has a specific method for solving complex problems via the generation of innovative solutions. Design Thinking is highly product centric which makes it extremely exciting from a production standpoint. Though conceptual in nature like Innovation and Creativity, the ultimate vista is its tangible nature in the disciplines ability to birth a prototype and eventually a commercial entity

Conceptually, it’s about the ability to Discover, Define, Develop and Deliver. As with all methodologies, there is a defined process and DT is no different. It commences with the Power of Empathy followed by Ideation, Prototyping, Testing and then Commercialisation. At its core is the human centricity mantra deep in feelings and emotion. DT is all about finding a solution that is relevant and timely. When you emphatise, you observe, engage and immerse

To enable your organisation to fully take advantage of this new vista, it’s important that the cultural DNA and associated structure of the organisation mirrors, embraces, breathes and acts change. For agencies in the experiential sector of the marketing communications industry, a logical approach would be to ensure that it considers setting up an Innovation SWAT Team. The new has to be organised separately from the old and existing. Business as Usual commonly referred to as BAU cannot thrive in conflict with the new arrangement but can prosper by complimenting each other with separate mandates, resources, structure and KPI

In defining the problem statement, which is integral to DT, the agency must be able to articulate the audience specific pain point. This is centred around what negative reaction is their pain point displaying and how might we as an organisation be able to proffer a meaning solution that can help solve the identified problem while also unlocking opportunities for a larger market. Take DYSON for example. This is an innovative company that has embedded research development for insights generation at the core of its business process and brand promise. The company has been consistently successful in understanding consumer needs based on well-articulated pain points and offering products that meets consumers at their point of need. They have also been able to understand consumer dynamics and shift in preference oozing for a more convenient and stylish product mix. They were the first to develop the zero-bag vacuum cleaning machine as well as their aerated magic blower hand drier amongst other breathtaking products.

Once you stock your innovation pipeline having gone through a series of brainstorms leveraging available methodologies, the next step would be for you to score your ideas using a highly simplified scoring matrix. For me I would canvass you score your ideas under the following three criteria’s.

After listing all ideas which have passed through the Ideas funnel, you are then expected to adjudge the ideas and ONLY follow through on those which score a minimum point total. The scoring is best achieved via weighted averages and then apportioning a specific score to ease criteria. Whatever your score is, multiply it with the weighted average to get a number. Add all the numbers together per column in order to have a total score. The higher the score the higher the chances of that Idea being selected and funded.

In the innovative mode, it’s virtually impossible to finance all ideas at the same time hence the need to prioritise based on logical, transparent and equitable system of analyses. Emotions give way at this point to rationale and businesslike behaviour. You cannot be everything to everyone so you will need to understand the importance of this process and follow through as anything short of this exercise may result in a complete waste of scarce financial resources

Experiential agencies need to start the process of thinking differently. Our industry and its players have consistently arguably excelled in the art of execution 90% and 10% Ideation. This mindset and structural practice need to change giving way to a more balanced and futuristic discipline where Ideation and Creativity is par on par with Execution with respect to Investment, Recruitment/Structure and Culture.

Why can’t experiential agencies lead the charge in providing;

Relevant Promotion Solutions, Staff Engagement Solutions, Sales Force Solutions. WHY?

After all, aren’t we the professional marketing discipline tasked with the responsibility of creating meaningful experiences?

Kenny Salami


Ideas House Marketing Solutions Ltd