One of the things I love about being in an agency is the fact that you work with a lot of creative people. Part of what you do as an agency is generate new interesting and creative ways to market a client and delight or inspire a would-be customer.
We regularly hold fun and formal brainstorming sessions internally or with the client, but we also hold spur of the moment idea generation sessions to dream up headlines, subject lines and call-to-actions all the time every day. These simple brainstorming tips below work for both scenarios. There’s tons of articles on brainstorming on the internet, this post is more of an overview for how to get the most out of the brains in the room.
Quick brainstorming best practices:
- Create a Positive Space
- Keep pushing for more ideas
- Categorize Ideas
- Rank your ideas
- Go back to idea generation
- Combine ideas and people
- Work on more details for the winning ideas
- Document the ideas and the details
What do all these mean.
Creating a positive space simply means no one be negative during the brainstorming. No nay saying your team members or other brainstorming participants. Look, everyone communicates differently, so be patient and someone may have a brilliant idea and you just don’t understand it – so no negativity is allowed, leave it at the door. I have a great friend that says you have 2 ears and one mouth, and they should be used in that order as intended. It’s a nice idea to listen to others and it’s the right thing to do during brainstorming – great ideas come from the most unlikely places and are often stumbled upon when practicing genuine communication.
More Is More
Keep pushing for more ideas, is super simple concept. There should be a person in charge of the brainstorming. This person coordinates the brainstorming, keeps it going. Uses facts and data to help people explore new ideas but most importantly, the brainstorming coordinator keeps asking the group for more ideas. “What else…” “Any other thoughts…” “More…”
Every single time I have ever participated in a brainstorming session or led a brainstorming session, one key piece of advice I can give you is to categorize your ideas... There are so many ways to categorize things… once things are categorized, you can bundle them into new ideas. Or, your categorization can help your group focus on new ideas based on the categories. If there is a certain type of category of ideas that seems more promising or is resonating with the group, explore them. Categorize and then…
Rank Your Concepts
This is a great group activity, get everyone to weigh in on the brainstorming concepts. Keep this positive too, don’t just have people critique ideas or put a big red X on an idea. Flip this around and tell people to rank their top 3 – 5 favorite ideas. Once every individual has ranked their favorite ideas, then pull out the top 3 – 5 from the favorited ideas…. Meaning which ideas were most liked by the group as potential ideas to keep working on. Keep all the ideas, even the ones that did not make the top 3 – 5 favorited by the group as you may want to go back to them later.
More BRAINS are Good
Taking those top 3 -5 ideas from the previous group activity and generate more ideas focusing just on the favorited ideas. Now build details around these ideas. The whole point of brainstorming is to use a collective group of brains to come up with a winning concept / idea. Ask the participants to team up in groups of 2 – 4 to generate details about the favorite ideas. Truly challenge them to work through the concept and to detail it out. Have the teams present their ideas to the group as, yes, it may generate a better idea through presenting and talking about it as a group. Ask the teams, to detail what will this idea really be like when implemented in market and experienced by the intended audience… push for details so the group can make the ideas even better but also actionable. And,…
#1 Tip of Brainstorming…
We cannot help it, as humans, it is the way our brains work, allow the group to get the bad ideas or the bad puns out of their system – let them go, it is all part of getting to the deeper ideas, we must get through what pops up in our head’s immediately to get to the deeper stuff. I am often saying during brainstorming, don’t use that… “I just had to get it out of my system.” It’s inevitable, that silly puns will come out during brainstorming and often people want to laugh at it but you are supposed to have a positive environment. So do this instead. Start your brainstorming by asking everyone to get the bad puns and jokes out of their systems to get to the deeper ideas. Turn getting the puns out into a warm-up exercise that’s gets people laughing, guards down and enjoying the creative process. But, don’t let it go on too long or you will receive the look I always get from my colleague, Alana, you know the one, the one that looks at you and communicating through their stare, ‘did you really say that, wait, were you serious?’ No, I wasn’t serious, "I just had to get it out of my system."