Creative Thinking—Part 2: Study the Assignment

In Part 1 of the Creative Thinking series, I offered an overview of the creative process.This week, let’s take a deeper dive into step one: Study the Assignment.

I always start by getting deep into the business, the objectives and—perhaps most importantly—the target audience.

“I think you have to know who you are. Get to know the monster that lives in your soul, dive deep into your soul and explore it.”
—Tori Amos

It all begins with questions…

  • Where has your brand been and where is it going today?
  • What’s your company culture?
  • What are your business aspirations?
  • Who are your customers?
  • What is your current business environment?
  • Who is your competition? How are you similar and/or different?
  • What are the KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) you look at on a weekly or monthly basis?
  • Who is your target audience?
  • What does your target think, feel and do? For example, if they’re salespeople…
  • How do they sell?
  • How have sales been?
  • Is your current level of turnover acceptable?
  • What comments do they hear most often from customers?
  • What do you have the most trouble getting them to do?
  • Has the communication medium or venue already been determined? Which parts are locked-in and which are changeable, if we come up with a better way?

This is more than a brain dump. It’s a deep dive into how a business runs and the people running it… with a focus on how we can inform, influence and inspire your target audience.

In addition to getting management’s view, I like to hear direct from the target audience: what makes them tick, who they like, why they choose. We might conduct primary research with a small sample—for example, 30-minute phone interviews—or, we might field an online study like our “eMotivateSM” instrument. (Check out this post for more on eMotivate.)

This phase is all about immersing ourselves in the brand and getting to the point where we can view your world through your eyes—as well as those of your target. Peeking between the lines for those invaluable nuggets of truth.

I’ll talk about what we do with what we learn in my next post on Creative Thinking.


Rick Cornish creates communications that inform, influence and inspire… helping organizations increase sales, promote unity and persuade their people to embrace change. Working in video, corporate meetings, event marketing and more; Rick delivers purposeful creative that drives business results and builds stronger brands.

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