Good creative is vital to online marketing success. However, being a successful designer can sometimes feel more like a production line than an artistic genius. It’s not always easy to be constantly creativity and original.
When design projects start to run together, it’s important to know where to look for inspiration. In my time at Disruptive Advertising, I’ve come to discover that there are a few ready sources of inspiration that I can look to when my own creativity well starts to run dry.
So, when you or your design team start to hit a wall, here are a few ways to jumpstart your creative process.
1. Talk to Your Design Co-Conspirators
Working with other designers is a great way to get in touch with a different side of the creative spectrum. Collaborating with a team of equally talented designers is a luxury that I have been blessed with and I take full advantage of the situation whenever possible.
For me, I know I’ve found a new angle when I see a landing page or Image ad that my co-workers did and immediately think, “I wish I did that!” Learning from other artists is a great way to expand your creative horizons, so it’s fun to look for ways to incorporate elements from my colleagues ideas into my own projects.
In addition to providing inspiration, talking to other designers is a great way to improve the quality of your own work. Don’t be afraid to sit down and pick the brain of a peer or have them critique your designs! Not only will constructive feedback improve your final product, it can also be a great source of inspiration.
Sometimes the best way to find inspiration is to close your laptop and step out into reality. There’s a lot of beauty and inspiration to be found in the world around us.
As a graphic designer, I’ll admit that I find the sheer volume of bad design out there a little distracting; but, if you’re willing to look past the garbage, there are a lot of design gems to be found as well.
Paying attention to the design elements I encounter in everyday circumstances is a great way to find new ideas. Often, I’ll be watching TV or simply driving down the road and discover a concept that would work brilliantly for one of my clients’ designs.
3. Learn from the Big Dogs
Okay, maybe I’m a bit of a sellout, but sometimes it’s helpful to see how the power players in a field are marketing themselves. Sometimes they inspire me with what they are doing right, sometimes I learn from what they are doing wrong.
For example, recently McDonald’s really inspired me…uh, you still with me? Yes, Micky D’s marketing has inspired me, so don’t be surprised to see a Ronald McDonald following you around on a retargeting campaign…
In all seriousness, McDonald’s has recently transitioned to a flat design style for most of their marketing materials (billboards, print ads, digital ads, etc). In fact, even their new bag designs have great illustrations of burger and fries that are so simple and clean that I wish I worked at Micky D’s!
Their new design look great, and they’ve inspired me to use some similar elements in my own projects.
4. Check Out Some Blogs
One of the great things about the internet age is how easy it is to share information. Whether you’re tackling a new industry or trying to figure out what tried-and-true techniques have worked for another designer, there’s a really good chance that someone has either blogged about or commented on your topic of interest.
For me, one of the easiest ways to pop out of a rut is to see what someone else is doing. Blogs are a great way to get your brain going in a new direction. Here are some of my favorite design sites:
Abduzeedo is a fantastic resource for design ideas. They cover a massive range of artistic styles and mediums, so it’s a great place to go for inspiration in almost any area. A lot of their stuff is a little more “artsy” than you typically see in digital marketing, which can be a great refresher for the creative juices.
To make their wealth of content easier to navigate, they’ve grouped things into “collections.” A couple of my favorite resources for digital marketing design are Sites of the Week and Daily Inspiration.
One of my favorite branding blogs is the logo smith. Here, Graham Smith discusses a lot of what makes company logos and icons successful. While I’m not usually involved in a lot of the logo decisions, Graham’s advice seamlessly crosses over to the digital marketing space. If you’re interested in candid thoughts on how to do great branding, this blog is well worth a look.
While Unbounce isn’t necessarily a “design blog,” it has a ton of helpful information about conversion rate optimization and landing page design (including a lot of sample pages). They also have thought-provoking landing page critiques (like this one) that provide a lot of insight into the psychology of effective landing page design.
Another great resource on the Unbounce Blog is the comments section. I know that on most websites the comment section is a bit of a scary place, but at Unbounce it’s filled with great insight, links and other helpful tidbits. I’ve had quite a few inspirational moments and discovered some great resources from Unbounce comments, so check them out!
While it’s not always easy to produce imaginative and novel content day after day, there are a lot of ways to reinvigorate your creative side. As designers, we study other people’s designs and wonder why they choose that color, font or type of imagery. We imagine what we would do differently to improve upon that design and that’s a good thing!
There are tons of places to find inspiration, you just have to know where to look.
You’ve heard some of my favorite sources of inspiration, what are yours? Leave a comment below!
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