One of my Thoughts

Ideas Alone Are Worthless

3 min read

Jeremy Carson is an Associate Creative Director, working in the advertising and design industries for over 15 years.

Ideas are essential. The idea is the keystone in the arch; it holds everything together. Without the idea, it all falls apart.

But some people seem to think it ends there…

Because it's not just what you say. It's also how and where you say it. Without the execution, the idea is worthless.



“I Thought of Uber Years Ago…”

Look, the startup world has known it for years. Their rule of thumb is counter intuitive: tell everyone your idea. You know why? Because nobody cares about your idea. They care about the product.

It’s the same with advertising.

People who say, “I had the idea for Uber a long time ago” also say “I had that campaign idea before.” But they didn’t make Uber. And they didn’t make that campaign. Nobody cares unless you execute it. And let me add: execute it well.

You can sculpt a block of clay or you can cover a diamond in shit.

Facebook beat MySpace because it was executed better. Spotify is beating Pandora. iPhones outsell Samsung. Ideas are great, but the execution is what people actually use. It’s what they see.

How You Say It

Let’s play a game...

You’ve just thought up the cure for cancer. Good for you.

Now, you only speak one language; let’s call it Harmoon. But you live in a country that doesn’t speak a word of it. In fact, they only speak...I don’t know...Crabblestack. It’s a language you thought was ridiculous. One you’ve never considered worth learning. The rules made no sense to you. The sounds it made were odd. You didn’t waste your time with it, because other people speak Harmoon. You understand Harmoon. To you, Harmoon is elegant and beautiful.

But tell me, what good is your idea for a cure if you don’t know how to communicate it?

Where You Say It

Creatives aren’t just creative. We’re communicators; masters of knowing how to convey our idea to our audience. And if all you know is how to speak one language (figuratively), then you’re telling everyone that speaks Crabblestack that you only care about people speaking Harmoon.

And sometimes that’s fine. Sometimes a print ad is perfect, because it makes sense. But sometimes the right execution for the audience is digital display. Or a Facebook campaign. Or a Snapchat video.

Good creatives aren’t just creative.

Your job is to know the best medium to execute your idea on.



Respect the Execution

So, when I say that I’m sick of seeing incoming creatives with nothing but print ads in their book, I don’t mean I don’t want to see print ads.

I want to see more than print ads. I want to see the right execution for the right idea.

Sure, you’re students, but you’re trying to be more than that, right? A good creative, looking at your book, can see if you can ideate. But they can also tell if you can’t communicate that idea.

And whether you're a new creative or an old veteran, the same holds true. You can learn to speak another language. You can learn to execute in other mediums. But first, you have to respect the differences. You have to understand their value.

And you need to realize that ideas are simply the first step.

Thanks for reading!

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