Idea Generation (Brainstorming Part I)

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How can I generate ideas for a client's project?

Idea Generation (Brainstorming Part I)

In a typical ad-agency scenario, an account executive will sign a client and then bring the deal to the creative director, with information about the client's needs, target market and budget. The creative director then brings together a creative team -- perhaps an art director and a copywriter -- and holds a "brainstorming" session to generate creative ideas.

Because the quality of these ideas -- even the crazy ones -- will help make the final concept better for the client and the agency, it's important that creative directors know how to conduct them effectively. Here are some common ways to encourage great ideas to bubble to the surface.

  • Find a relaxed environment -- perhaps something that takes you outside your normal work space. Nice day? Take the session outside.
  • Try to schedule your session for a time when people are likely to be at their best -- 10 a.m. is often preferred.
  • Have a whiteboard or flip chart available, and assign someone -- preferably not one of the key players -- to record all ideas.
  • Commit to not judging or evaluating any idea until after the brainstorming session is over.
  • Present the creative challenge -- the customer's needs, the available resources, the target market.
  • Ask a few open-ended questions ("How might we reach this market?" "What are some ways around our budget limitations?") to get things going.
  • Set a time limit for free-flowing idea generation -- perhaps 25 minutes.
  • Encourage laughter and joking around, as long as it's not meant critically.
  • Once your time is up, reduce the meeting to only the key members of the team. Be sure to thank the other participants for their help.



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