A few weeks ago, D&AD held one of their Sharp’ner events on What Makes A Great Idea? (apologies for the cliched lightbulb pic) and the answer was a resounding shoulder shrug and a muttered “I dunno but it kinda looks like one of these ideas…” Feeling deeply unsatisfied with this answer we asked five members of the Outside Line team, all from different disciplines, what they thought made a great idea…
David Hamilton, Development
I always thought ideas are like greatness. Some ideas are just great (internet porn), some ideas achieve greatness (Facebook) and some ideas have greatness thrust upon them (Twitter).
Ideas often depend on your point of view and great ideas come from being able to see something in a way no one else has, or even seeing a use in something that other people have dismissed as ridiculous.
For instance, washing fruit and vegetables in your washing machine sounds dumb, right? But check this out, a washing machine manufacturer in China went round to a guy’s house to fix his washing machine and when they got there they found it was clogged up with lettuce and other veg and they were like “wtf man?” (or something to that effect). He replied ”yeah I wash my food in here”. Instead of laughing at him as they probably should, they went back to their R&D team and they designed a washing machine that cleans food as well as clothes. That may not have been the greatest idea but that kind of thinking can result in winning ideas.
Dan Rutherford, Creative Planning
For any idea to be successful it needs to offer a fun, entertaining or useful experience for consumers. If it doesn’t, then don’t bother.
It’s not just about delivering the brand message in a certain way, it’s about creating something that adds to the consumers day. In my opinion, brands that offer a continual flow of experiences for consumers are the ones that create better connections with existing and new fans of the brand. The energy that’s created by fans who interact with your idea is what makes the idea great.
Gemma Bardsley, Social Media
Great ideas come from insights into culture; knowledge of the way people behave and using this information to create a relevant ‘solution’. The solution and ‘idea’ may not have been a problem anyone knew needed to be fixed. Way before Facebook existed we were all happy with the way we interacted with people, the creation of Facebook wasn’t essential to our day-to-day life. However, insight into human behaviour suggested that there was another way to facilitate communication, which harnessed the web’s ability to connect people and our inherent desire to share information. This led to the creation of the biggest social networking tool.
In the way that luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunities; a great idea is what happens when cultural insight meets inspiration.
The below video is a great example of cultural insights resulting in a great idea; providing a city with 20,000 bikes so they can move from a to b and kickstart their own economy.
Kelly Wisker, Accounts
“I wish I’d thought of that first”… if people say that about your idea… you’re onto a winner.
A great idea is something that fills a void that people never even knew existed – a new product that you didn’t need, but now you can’t live without it… an app that solves a problem or makes your life easier… a tool that brings you together with friends or reunites you with family.
Ben Stapleton, Video
A great idea is something you shouldn’t have to think about, it should come to you.
Whether it’s the perfect sandwich filling or a great idea for a video, it’s something you should want to put into action straight away, regardless of any hurdles.
It’s often so easy to get bogged down by obstacles and the thought that “someone else has probably already done it”. This can be the death of an idea before it’s even begun, it’s important that once you have an idea that you have confidence in it and block out your inner naysayer.