What Doesn’t Kill Creativity Makes It Stronger!

What Doesn’t Kill Creativity Makes It Stronger!

Most graphic designers and copywriters recognize the “rush” they feel when asked to come up with a new marketing campaign. Adrenaline kicks in. The wheels start to turn. Images and ideas begin to form.

Then, even before pencil meets paper or fingers fly across a keyboard, that first flush of excitement gets tempered by reality—brand guidelines, budget limitations, client preferences, legal department rules, business objectives, and, of course, tight deadlines.

Yet, what doesn’t kill creativity can actually make it stronger! Often, it is the very challenge of converging creativity with the constraints of commerce that gives rise to the best ideas and some of the most rewarding experiences.

We’ve seen it firsthand many times. And each time we discover something new about the creative process and collaboration. Consider this adventure in marketing we embarked on a few months ago.

Our longtime client Canon Solutions America (CSA) wanted creative campaign concepts for launching its revolutionary Colorado 1650 printer. The large-format printer’s radical FLXfinish technology—which allows switching between matte and gloss finish on a single machine without changing inks or media—is one of the key features that make the new machine next-gen and not like anything else on the market.

And that’s a big deal. In the highly competitive digital print production industry—where most of the major brands tend to make nearly identical claims regarding great performance, productivity, and quality—this kind of disruptive technology is really what differentiates one printer from the next and expands the range of potential business opportunities for print shops. Disruptive technology is also one of the only selling points likely to startle established print providers out of their comfort zones, get them to recognize the limitations of sticking with the same-old devices and processes, and inspire them to imagine new possibilities.

In some ways, FLXfinish presented the SLS team with a singular opportunity to imagine new possibilities as well—a chance to “flip the usual marketing script” for CSA and stretch our creative muscles in unexpected directions (while staying inside the confines of branding, budget, and client buy-in, of course).

With marching orders to “really get creative,” we allowed ourselves to let loose during brainstorming and expand beyond what usually passes for successful marketing in the digital print production industry. This campaign needed to step far enough outside the lines to clearly signal the Colorado 1650’s industry-disrupting technology, plus deliver an impossible-to-miss message that “business as usual” was no longer the only option.

After entertaining a range of ideas from the ridiculous to the sublime, we refined three imaginative campaign concepts and presented them to the client, including the winner, which we dubbed “The FLX Factor.”

“We turned the ’FLX’ into a highly graphic, immediately identifiable, almost trademarkable symbol of the Colorado 1650 printer’s innovation and made it the core of the campaign,” SLS Creative Director Grogg says. “Then we gave it an attention-getting personality based on some engaging wordplay—FLXceptional, FLXotic, FLXciting, you get the idea—and set it against a backdrop of ultra-bold colors and eclectic, quirky photography. The impact was immediate and instantly put FLXfinish technology on everyone’s radar!”

Since the FLX Factor campaign was all about creating buzz across the industry and showcasing the Colorado 1650 printer’s expansive range of applications from wallcoverings to bus wraps, we made sure the concept itself was flexible, too. We developed iterations of the campaign’s unmistakable iconography to pop up on print ads, banner ads, landing pages, emails, direct mail, tradeshow graphics, and more—all looking just as different and disruptive as Canon’s new technology.

Now, that was a rush!