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Are ‘objectivity’ and ‘creativity’ mutually exclusive?

At first, I thought so.

I started out as a journalist, before becoming a writer in advertising and strategic communications. As a journalist, I found comfort in facts. It took care of one element in the equation; namely, what I should write about. Which meant I could focus on the way I write, rather than trying to create something from nothing.

Copywriters, on the other hand, are faced with not just the challenge of being exceptional writers, but also being exceptionally creative. So, when I made the transition to advertising, I found myself in an environment that placed more emphasis on the subjective than the objective. A new element that I wasn’t sure I was entirely comfortable with.

For instance, my first copywriting task found me coming to grips with writing a brochure for a foreign bank that I knew nothing about, with little online presence, and that wasn’t too forthcoming in providing further information. The brief was simply “We’re a bank. This is what we want people to know about us. Now make us sound good.” Hardly the solid footing I was familiar with.

Then I moved to Verbalisation, and for the first time I was encouraged to combine the objectivity of facts with the subjectivity of creative thinking.

Objectivity liberates creativity

I discovered a new way to approach my briefs. As we base all our communications on solid insights, generated by looking at people’s psychology over demographics, everything we do is based on evidence.

Without going into too much detail, we use a scientific method to find what resonates most with the way people think, act and speak, and then we tailor the appropriate language. It may sound like Marketing 101, but this really is about understanding your audience better. Because if you know what actually matters to people, you’re halfway there.

The objective benefits

Some may fear that having to stick to scientific certainty can restrict creativity. In my experience, it has the opposite effect. Knowing your audience deeply, rather than guessing blindly, gives one the confidence to push creative boundaries in a way you wouldn’t think was possible. By reliably understanding the way your audience thinks, you can:

  • Write with added confidence – provided you stick to the audience’s psychological drivers, you can experiment while knowing your message will always be effective
  • Sell in better ideas to clients – “based on the evidence” will always be more convincing than “I think” or “I believe”
  • Increase ROI – by creating copy that you are sure will resonate with your audience, your campaigns will be more impactful and successful
  • Avoid communication faux pas – understanding your audience also means knowing what not to say, so you can avoid situations like the recent, ill-judged Pepsi campaign
  • Create Verbal Strategies that change behaviour – this goes beyond just sounding nice, but actually compels your audience to act

The creative application

As for how this all works in practice, I like to use an analogy. A Verbal Strategy, based on objective science, is like a box of Lego. You can combine language ‘building blocks’, and use them in different, creative ways. The result being copy that is as flexible as it is consistent. Meaning your output remains creative, while staying rooted in objective reasoning.

So, based on the evidence – objectivity really can free up your creativity.

By Marc da Motta, Copywriter / Verbal Engineer
Having joined the Verbalisation team at the start of 2013, Marc has grown with the company. He pairs his journalistic experience with skills gained from Verbalisation’s unique methodology. Marc’s role centres around creating effective copy, brand guidelines and verbal strategies for the company’s largest clients.

This article was originally published on April 28, 2017

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