How to Inspire Action Through Creative

Creativity is a lifelong journey, not a destination.

In February, I joined Mission Minded as the new Creative Director, and my charge is to shake up the way we organize our work so that we ignite even bolder ideas with you.

Our clients have always hired Mission Minded because we offer the holistic strategy and creative package. I’ll be strengthening and elevating the connections across all of our creative executions across the design, copywriting, print, digital, and video realms.

Read on to learn how you can make gutsier and savvier decisions about the creative concepts and ideas that will lead your organization to greater impact.

Boldly take up the creativity mantle.

Ira Glass does a tremendous job of talking about what it means to be a creative, and what it takes to build the confidence to show up in that way. My degree is in Eastern philosophy. But I wanted to be in the creative world. This was back in the early 2000s and the internet was super young. So I looked up the curriculum being taught at art and design school. I copied that and looked at the exercises and studied them. I took classes at night. I scrapped together a portfolio. Finally, I got noticed by a digital shop in San Francisco, and I got a job and broke into the field. But I had imposter syndrome. I had to persevere and I grinded through it.

There’s always doubt when you’re thinking about what the “right” creative idea is. If there were a single, perfect solution, it wouldn’t be called creative! So doubt and lack of one clear path is part of that. You see things you like out there and you wonder if your work measures up. I took the advice that the best way to do great creative work is to simply do creative work. Then keep working to make it even better. 

The people who work in nonprofits and schools do so because they have a passion for the work. Many of us work in areas outside of our formal training or education. We’re learning as we go, and we keep getting better as we go. We also need to keep working on developing the courage to make bold moves and believe in our work.

To find inspiration, start with the audience.

People always want to know where I find inspiration. It’s not as magical as many people imagine. I simply start with the audience. That practice started when I was in the commercial and corporate world. Who are we speaking to? What’s the culture they are steeped in? When I worked on the Johnson & Johnson contact lens campaign, I went to an optometrist to have the experience that the audience would have. I don’t even need glasses! When I worked with Nature Made, I ordered their supplements and took them to better understand that experience. 

When we assume we know what people want, that’s when we miss. My approach is perhaps extreme. And obviously I can’t change my identity or socioeconomic status. I do what I can do to understand. I read a ton. I listen to music. I try to absorb the culture.

Share your audacious vision, not your program list.

Ultimately, great creative is about inspiring audiences with your brand’s story. What can nonprofits, foundations, and schools learn from how for-profit organizations engage their audiences?

Here’s an example: When you can watch a Super Bowl commercial for potato chips or detergent or a new car, so many of those commercials resonate. Why those stories work, and what we can all learn from, is that they find the sweet spot between hyperbole and reality. How far can you stretch to get people to do something? Too stretched and people don’t buy your authenticity. Too real and people don’t want to know more.

If I’m being inspired by something, it moves me to do something. Too often, organizations try to educate in their creative concepts and stories. Education equals learning how something is. Inspiration makes me want to do something about it.

Telling imaginative, magnetic, inspiring stories takes courage and trust. Clients hire us because of our experience partnering with organizations who know they need to show up differently to achieve greater impact. Together we’ll develop the story that is right for your organization, and for your audiences. Bold creative and bold storytelling will probably take you a little out of your comfort zone. So mutual trust and faith – between you and your creative partner, and with your audiences – are absolutely necessary or else the creative, that inspiration, can get diluted.

Tell more compelling stories.

I’m often asked, “What are the trends I need to pay attention to?” Here’s the thing: everything is constantly changing. I don’t think there’s one trend, like TikTok, driving the change. Political, socioeconomic, and cultural changes mean our audiences change in response. The same story that worked 10 years ago won’t work today because we are in a different mental landscape. The headlines and cultural context are different. And everything is connected. It’s not a 1:1 impact, of course, but it changes how we think about everything we consume.

It’s true, though, that we have found ourselves in a dopamine-driven digital culture. Attention spans are down to seconds. Purchasing power is linked to almost all of the media we consume. 

The challenge for nonprofits and schools is that so often, we’re trying to build awareness and inspire action. But even when you take action, there’s no immediate dopamine pellet. That Amazon truck isn’t showing up tomorrow. So your audiences are challenged to absorb your message. You have to find ways to be even more compelling than you used to be.

Spark your community’s imagination.

Great creative moves people. It sparks their action. Let Mission Minded help you inspire your audiences. Check out some of our recent work, and let’s talk about your organization’s opportunity to use creative ideas to revolutionize the ways your most important audiences engage with your brand.