Penny Baxter is Managing Director at Salterbaxter MSLGROUP and is based in London. She’s an expert on sustainability and a former creative director.
We think purpose matters full stop – to creativity, to ideas, to being authentic and delivering the right kind of progress. What does it really mean? It means having a reason for being here beyond making and selling more stuff – having a positive role in the world while contributing to sustainable economic and social development. In the context of a brand, it’s the most valuable strand of DNA to decode, for with it comes relevance, trust and longevity.
So when it comes to purpose and creativity, we have the perfect storm – a force for good supported by a force for change. For that’s what creative thinking can deliver – new ideas and solutions to questions that weren’t even asked. Place that powerful force around businesses and brands that are willing to step up and change the way we live, think and work, and we may just make it to the year 3000.
Focusing creative minds on solving problems of real substance brings a risk-taking dimension to the solution. Stepping into the creative realm of the improbable and impossible, we can define new business models, find progressive ways of creating and consuming, and connect businesses, brands and consumers to change.
Creativity with purpose also opens up new ways of working – the democratization of ideas and IP through co-creation and open source thinking is a revolution. When these methods are adopted by brands, their role and impact is transformed. Brands like Nike and SONY have embraced this approach and discovered new ideas for themselves as well as unlocked progress for others. And it’s well-known that BMW’s breakthrough technology came from their incubator unit that was given a creative vacuum outside of the constraints of the core business, with the purpose of redesigning the future of mobility. Efficient Dynamics was born and has already delivered 30% emission reduction in five years.
An interesting thing to consider is how to harness the collective force of designers and creatives who are amongst the most untamed and unmanaged group of professionals in the world. We don’t collectively answer to an ethical code or submit to rules of creative engagement. How much more impact could we make if we organized around a common goal of challenging all businesses and brands to act with integrity and find advantage in a positive purpose? Would it tame the very spirit of the creative beast, or would it make us even more powerful? Can creativity save the world? At Salterbaxter MSLGROUP we certainly think so.
Authenticity is Key
But with purpose and creativity comes the need for authenticity. Brands cannot hide from the always-on connected world, and cannot afford to misjudge where they have permission to tread or overstate their motives. We expect responsibility and credibility from brands and will punish those who don’t see the limits of our consumption motives.
Our Creative Director, Nina Pickup, sums up the role of purpose in creativity with the following:
“Our role as purpose-led creatives is to magnify the good and turn a starting intent into an organizing philosophy – always daring to think big and make business better. I’d sum this up by approaching every creative challenge with the following:
Make it sustainable and desirable
Inspire positive action”
This post is a part of our People’s Insights report The Future of Creativity, in which experts from MSLGROUP and some from Publicis Groupe identify 15 drivers for engaging creatively in 2015.