Traditional agencies are all about one big idea: the striking ad campaign that could capture a huge audience and make an indelible impression. But now that what used to be a media monolith has shattered into thousands of outlets vying for our attention, stories must be told frequently, in varied formats, and across different channels to be seen, heard, and felt. Each story isn’t merely a piece of a big idea; it has to speak to different people and reflect the current cultural moment. It’s a living, morphing, ongoing stream of ideas.
That means that content consultancies like us must generate many ideas at speed. And those ideas are necessarily ones we can turn around and execute quickly.
Creative people have long imagined their best ideas as coming from outside of themselves, via a “muse” or some other mysterious process. Every day at SJR, someone lights up when an idea hits them—a fresh illustration style, a catchy lead paragraph, a different camera angle, even a resourceful way to make the budget work.
But we don’t have a steady stream of good ideas because we’re visited by the muses. Ideas hit us because of our creative intuition. There’s nothing magical about intuition: It’s the ability to quickly process information and to make sound judgments because of the depth of one’s experience and knowledge. It can manifest as a decision (We need to use X style to depict Y brand) or as an emotion (This infographic isn’t right for the brief; I can feel it, so let’s keep working on it).
Intuition is a byproduct of what we call our Uncommon Talents. We don’t all come from the agency world, and we like to swim outside our lanes. We have writers who ran newsrooms, producers who made documentaries. We have designers who studied everywhere from Buenos Aires to Singapore. We have client service managers who can write beautifully; we have editors who think visually. We have poets, painters, and even candle makers. On an individual level, we’re speedily linking our knowledge and past work to the task at hand; we’re assimilating feedback from the client—and from data and insights—to chart a path.
All of our rich histories with different types of content and audiences make up a collective creative intelligence that sets us apart. Our shared brain knows how to go in a different direction without compromising a brand’s legacy. We know how to decode complexity and find the narrative in the noise.
Of course, sometimes we get pushback. But when a strategy or execution doesn’t work, we can analyze why and feed that information back into the machine so our intuitions will be even sharper the next time. And whereas an ad agency’s failed campaign can amount to months or even years of lost time, our “always-on” content guarantees that tomorrow is a new chance to create something that will move someone else.