Fanciful. Impractical. Unrealistic.
Those are a few of the words you’ll come across when you search the definition of “blue-sky thinking,” but in the agency world, blue-skying is just the baseline.
There is something so meaningful about pulling off an idea that seemed too big or too “out of the box.” The kind of idea that comes with a side of skepticism when you first hear it. The kind of idea that is followed by “I don’t know if we can do that” or “that may not be possible.”
It’s thrilling. Of course, to truly pull off something “fanciful,” there has to be some practicality to it—but we don’t always have to limit ourselves to what feels reasonable. True innovation comes from letting the ideas flow.
Clear as mud? Let me give you a little more.
Imagine that we’re all back in the office. The coffee’s on, we’re gathering our notes and laptops, and we’re heading to the conference room for a meeting... 10 a.m. sharp (because internal meetings always start exactly on time, right?). You’ve been isolated at home and the creative juices are flowing. You take a big sip of that office coffee you’ve missed and prepare to share your long-awaited insight. And you are met with “we don’t have the budget” or “there isn’t enough time for that.” Devastating.
Don’t shut it down. Let’s shoot for the moon. Big, blue-sky thinking is crucial to creatives. It’s tough to come up with a really fantastic idea on a deadline, so if you get that flash of inspiration, run with it. I bet the guy who sold 1.5 million Pet Rocks in the 70s had a few naysayers, too.
There is nothing better than gathering in a room full of your incredibly smart and talented coworkers and running through your best ideas. And maybe they aren’t the next Pet Rock, but think about how good it feels to have that creative input and team of supporters. It’s something I always look forward to at Designsensory. But I did say that we have to have some practicality, and honestly, I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t usually one of the first people to come back to those ideas with “okay, but how?”
I think that’s what takes a really good brainstorming session and makes it a great one. Meet that big dream with a plan that stays in budget. Explore how we can make that Pet Rock idea work within the given timeline. Has something like this been done before? How can we do it better? Ask questions. Challenge ideas. Build up your teammates. Creativity without limits is a beautiful thing. Just for fun, let’s look back on a few of our proudest blue-sky moments here at DS, shall we?
That time we made a roaring tiger crate.
As Zoo Knoxville was anticipating the arrival of Arya, its new Malayan Tiger, they wanted to create some buzz and excitement for the public. We created an environmental piece that could be moved around to places like Market Square in Downtown Knoxville or Regal Cinema. Activated by motion, this roaring crate piqued the interest of pedestrians as they walked by.
When we turned an old storage container into a trade show booth.
After rebranding and launching an app for Staylist, we created an elaborate booth activation out of an old storage container to show it all off at their big national trade show. The container was marked with “Adventure Awaits” in graffiti for photo opportunities, and with board games, s’mores and additional giveaways, the event booth truly made each guest feel like they were discovering their next adventure.
We made a television show. Twice.
It’s not often that one of your key tactics in any given campaign is “make a television show.” But who says you can’t? In an effort to generate high-level awareness of their community initiatives, public land and boots on the ground efforts, we created a hosted travel and lifestyle television show called “Tennessee Valley Uncharted” for Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and Tennessee Valley Authority, which broadcast on public television stations around the country. And we did it again in the form of a six-part documentary-style series called “Remastered,” which highlighted iconic heritage brands in the State of Tennessee for Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development. It premiered on RFD-TV, as well as YouTube and Amazon Prime Video.
My point (however long it took me to get there) is that, yes, sometimes it’s easier to list all of the reasons that something cannot be done. But what’s the fun in something easy? Let’s get imaginative. Let’s excite our clients. Let’s get fanciful. You know you want to.