As an entrepreneur and business owner, visualizing your company’s aesthetic can seem like a hurculean task. By nature, you are a creative individual. You may not think you are––you may consider yourself to be a “left-brainer” through and through, but at the end of the day, you are creating something from nothing and are, in fact, a creative.
Now that we’ve established that you are creative, we have to address the greatest obstacle that stands between you and the fruition of your vision. The skill that separates professional creatives (your designers, illustrators, writers, ad strategists, etc.) is the ability to filter a storm of abstract ideas into one consise representation. It’s a daunting task, but by no means is it beyond your reach. We’ve compiled a list below with 6 brainstorming techniques that you can use today to focus your creativity into one amazing business endeavor.
This is a great technique for developing slogans, business names, logo elements, and more. Grab a piece of paper and a pen/pencil and start by scribbling a few words across the top of your page. There aren’t many rules for this––simply choose words that vaguely relate to your general business concept. In example, if I were starting an organic coffee supply company, I might begin with the words “organic”, “coffee”, and “supply”. Once you’ve got those down, start drawing arrows that stem from each of these root words, followed by the first corresponding words that come to mind. Don’t spend more than a second thinking about it, just write down the first thing that comes to mind.
“Coffee” “Bean” “Round” “Brown” “Tree” “Dirt” “Roots” “Water”… and so forth.
Do this for the each of the orginal words on the page until you haven’t anymore space to write. Take a step back and analyze your work. Look for for comparisons, relationships, and general ideas that embody what you want to communicate to your audience. Within in minutes, this mess of words will begin to yield tangible conceptulizations within your head that you can then take to the computer and begin to flesh out. It seems like a simple notion, but word maps work wonders.
2. Make a Mood Board
A mood board is a collection of photos, typography, textures, graphic styles… really just a convergance of found elements that combine to form a cohesive idea. I like to begin with a masonry-style grid of randomly sized rectangles–some big, some small. This gives me the freedom to place more emphasis on certain elements than on others. In example, you might find a picture of the ocean in which you really love the shade of blue. Right away, you know that you want that blue to be a major element within your business’ aesthetic — so you assign one of the larger blocks to it. Conversely, you might find a design with a funky typeface that is really striking, but you don’t want it to have a HUGE presence in your look, so you give it one of the smaller blocks. Continue doing this, pulling pictures from your preferred search engine, until you have filled every block you started with. Once finished, this is a great asset to a) give to your designer, or b) draw your own conclusions from.
3. Start Sketching
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to be the next Van Gough to incorporate sketching into your brainstorming process. Viewing the raw ideas from the depths of your psyche in a visual medium can be a great way flesh out a vide variety of aspects for your business or idea. To get started, find yourself a cheap sketchbook or notebook–any cheap paperback sketchbook from your nearest office supply store will do the trick. Next, set a timer for yourself — not too much time… 5 minutes at the most. Once the countdown has begun, start scribbling like your life depends on it. Try to fill as much of the sketchbook as you can before time runs out. Doing so will keep you from overthinking, and instead, you will open a floodgate of free-flowing ideas straight from your brain to the paper. Remeber, this isn’t a game of Pictionary or a submission to the MOMA, you’re the only one who needs to be able to decipher what you draw. Once the time is up, take a look at what you’ve created and point out what you like and what you don’t like. With these revelations fresh in your mind, reset the timer and do it again. Repeat this process until you’ve composed a comprehensve idea of how you’d like to materialize your business, product, or other endeavor. You’ll be suprised at what you can come up with when you let your artistic side out.
4. Have a BIG Canvas
Sometimes it helps to look at the bigger picture, and you may be limiting your creative potential if you confine yourself within the edges of an 8.5 by 11″ sheet of printer paper. Find yourseld a white board, cork board, large window, or scribble on your walls (assuming you don’t rent!). Even if you composite dozens of smaller sketches and sticky notes to this surface, you’ll be able to step and look at the sum of your brainstorming efforts as one body. You’ll start to draw connections, and ultimately spawn new ideas tat never would have come to you otherwise. This technique is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. Leave the board in a central part of your living or work space. This way, it will be a constant element in your day-to-day that you approach with a different mindset every time you walk past. This will allow you to approach the concept with a wider variety of perspectives, and you may suprise yourself with what you come up with.
5. Record yourself
Ever noticed how ideas seem like works of genius when they spawn in your head, but once your vocalize them to a friend, holes start to pop up in your logic like an over-zealous gopher? It happens to every entrepreneur. Sometimes you just need to talk it over in order to determine whether or not it’s a viable idea. Of course, if you have somebody close by to talk to, that will work, but if you don’t — or if you’re not quite ready to face the world with your idea, just start recording yourself for ten, twenty, or even thirty minutes. Upon playing it back, you’ll be able to think from other viewpoints that didn’t present themselves in the heat of the conceptulization. As long as you’re starting a business, and not reaching for your chainsaw, listening to the voices in your head isn’t always such a bad thing.
6. Forget about it
Not completely, but for the moment. If you’re stumped, sometimes the best thing to do is to go see a movie, go for a walk, go running — do something completely unrelated. All of the gears in your subconcious will continue to turn, and then when you least expect it, the “ah-ha” moment you’ve been waiting for will present itself. I believe Don Draper gave similar advice in the first season of Mad Men. The human brain is an amazing thing, all you have to do is let your’s do what it does best.
Ready to get started?
Use one or more of these techniques and your golden business idea will materialize before you know it. Once you have a direction you’re happy with, you’ll need a creative team to help bring it to life. Since you’re reading this on anchorpointcollective.com, you’ll not be suprised that I feel obligated to plug our creative services at Anchor Point Collective, but if you have a reliable team you’ve worked with in the past, I’m sure they’ll do a stellar job as well. Plus, they’ll love you for arriving to the table prepared, and you’ll save time and money in the long run. We really hope this helps all you entrepreneurs out there, and happy creating!