Does creativity apply to all businesses? – [or only to the so-called “creative sectors”?]

Does creativity apply to all businesses? – [or only to the so-called “creative sectors”?]

By Chris Halliburton, Professor at ESCP Business School

Some decades ago the original marketing guru Ted Levitt wrote a seminal article entitled “Marketing success through differentiation – of anything”. Since then differentiation is seen to be central to both strategy and to marketing – the key question is how to differentiate, as there are a myriad ways to do so.

I would contend that creativity is at the heart of this question and that this applies to all businesses – do you agree?

There are some who would not agree – creativity, they would argue, applies largely to the more obviously ‘creative’ industries – to the Arts; to Fashion; to Luxury brands. Or, it applies largely to certain functions within any business – to R&D or to ‘Innovation’ teams; to marketing (rather than say manufacturing or operations); to marketing or communication agencies – but where is the ‘Learning Organisation’ within this view?; what about successful organisations that have tapped the knowledge and creativity of all of its people? Sure, there are the brilliant copywriters, just as there are brilliant artists, composers or authors – it takes true talent with words to come up with a long-lasting tagline but surely this is not the sole measure of creativity?

Singapore Airlines has been highly creative in differentiating itself over the years in lots of different ways – it started out as a State owned tiny airline with propeller planes up against the jets of the giant American airlines but has shifted its differentiation through its people (‘Singapore Girl’), its image,  its service levels, its added services (in-flight and on the ground), its fleet, its operating system, etc – creativity at work with admirable financial results compared to others?

My favourite example is the cement/construction brand Cemex. Who would believe that it is possible to brand cement? – even Jeff Bezos said that he would like to position Amazon to sell anything, except concrete and yet Cemex has done it. Starting in Mexico they are now a leading global player, and one of the most profitable, by using strong branding, a transnational strategy and a highly creative approach to their values, their organisation and to their marketing.

Can I rest my case…………….?