You’d think these agencies would deliver outside the box thinking aplenty.
Interestingly, none of the pitches really do.
The pitches are simple and catchy and memorable.
But they’re not “outside the box.”
The pitches are the opposite of that.
They’re inside the box.
They’re close to the main idea of the business, but from a different angle – a unique perspective.
If you consider some of the most iconic advertising efforts of all time, most of them would also lean inside the box vs. outside the box.
Weiden + Kennedy’s Just Do It. for Nike… Inside the box.
TBWA/Chiat/Day’s Think Different. for Apple… Inside the box.
DDB’s Think Small. for Volkswagon… Inside the box.
These three examples along with The Pitch demonstrate the core of Inside The Box by Drew Boyd and Jacob Goldenberg.
Inside The Box explains the creative process known as Systematic Inventive Thinking where creativity stems from focusing on the area immediately around you.
Whereas “outside the box” has become a cliche for any type of creative thinking – it means nothing and everything – Inside The Box is a framework for “closed-world” creative thinking.
The authors stress the “closed-world” aspect because the primary constraint is the small world around us.
Not outside the box… inside the box.
Constraints are the key creativity.
While this initially sounds ludicrous, a Thunderdome-style creativity process (The only rule is there are no rules!) like team brainstorming often results in a high quantity of ideas without much quality. In these cases, the loudest and/or biggest title rule the day.
But constraints broaden your creativity by setting limitations and forcing you to choose only the essential. A personal example is the 500-word limit I place on my Libro 52 posts. Without a word limit, I’d ramble on for 1000 words before looking up. Rarely would this benefit the reader.
Speaking of writing, the best-selling author of all-time used format constraints. Agatha Christie wrote 85 books and sold a few billion (yes… billion) of them. She used templates that could be replicated over and over.
So how’d she sell a few billion books if they are so templatey?
The details were very creative.
They had to be.
Inside The Box presents closed-world creativity templates in a very readable way. This was a fun read although the templates initially read like an arithmetic text:
- Task Unification
- Attribute dependency
The concepts are fairly simple. They get your mind whirring immediately as you think about the products (and processes) you purchase or create. I went through 70+ waiter’s pads thinking about Red Angle content.
All the templates begin by asking, “What might the benefits be of applying Template X? Who might the customer be?”
For Subtraction, consider Apple.
The iPod was a raging success.
Likewise the iPhone, which in many ways made the iPod obsolete.
Someone posed the question, “What if we took the iPhone and removed the phone?”
When I first saw the product I thought it was the dumbest thing ever.
An iPhone… that wasn’t an iPhone.
It was an iPod Touch.
Apple sold 60M of them.
Or the iPod predecessor – the Walkman – a cassette recorder minus the recorder.
Or my 2-year old is now riding a “strider” – a bike without pedals.
The Multiplication template includes Gillette’s twin blade system (no – adding a 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th blade is not innovative, it’s ridiculous.)
An example of Task Unification is a merry-go-round playground equipment built for Sub-Saharan Africa. As the children spin it, it also acts a deep well pump for much needed water for the community. The product unifies 2 previously disparate activities.
Throughout the book, the authors do a fantastic job of explaining the templates.
They include multiple real-world examples based on products you know of or have purchased.
Bottom Line: Inside The Box will make you think more creatively. Within 50 pages you will start seeing solutions and begin working backwards to some truly creative ideas. This book worked for me. Instead of another marginally useful (useless?) brainstorming session, read this book instead.
Bradley Hartmann is El Presidente at Red Angle (www.redanglespanish.com). He blew through his 500-word constraint on this post, but it was deliberate.
36. Inside The Box by Drew Boyd and Jacob Goldenberg
Categories: Libro 52 Challenge