Being creative in a non-creative industry
By Dr Ben Voyer, Associate Professor at ESCP Business School
During my career as a marketing practitioner – and still these days as a marketing consultant – I have worked for very different types of companies and in different industries: Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCGs), public institutions, banks, commodity suppliers…
Which of these industries would I say was the most creative? Well, it is actually difficult to say – or not as obvious as it might seem. An easy answer would be to say that I had a lot of flexibility to be creative when I was working for an FMCG company. My main constraint was to come up with ideas that would not be too outrageous for the type of products I was in charge of – products on the glamorous ‘lavatory care’ product line. But to a certain extent, I would say that I had to show a lot of creativity when working in the banking industry. Let me explain.
Marketing banking products is difficult for several reasons. First, banks are ‘serious’ institutions – how many of us can recall a fun moment shared with a banker? Second, the banking industry is heavily regulated when it comes to marketing and communication – this is best illustrated by all the small prints on banking product ads.
Interestingly, I probably took a greater pride at coming up with ideas that were ‘off the beaten track’ for the banking industry, rather than in industries perceived a more ‘creative’ ones. Remember that creativity, by definition, happens when you have constraints. I therefore found that working in industries which are heavily constrained helps to bolster creativity.
On this note, I am off to see my banker!