Creativity is a MUST for Changemakers

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Have you ever watched a commercial for shampoo or insurance or beer and thought about how much effort went into a thirty second ad?

Every line of dialogue, every frame of video, every element of design was painstakingly thought about. Probably debated about by a large team for a long time. All for those thirty seconds.

Our world doesn’t lack people with the creative skills that it takes to move people. What our world lacks is a better sense of priorities when it comes to applying their skills.

Nicholas Kristoff writes that toothpaste is marketed with more sophistication than the life saving efforts of aid groups.

Our world doesn’t need toothpaste. I take that back. We do need toothpaste and I wouldn’t want to live in a world without it.

But I mean to say that our world isn’t in as desperate need of toothpaste the way it’s in need of clean water. Or trees. Or racial justice. Or education. Or women’s equality. You get the point.

Every nonprofit, foundation, or cause centered brand could make an even bigger impact if they went all-in on creative storytelling.

See, if your aim is to create lasting change in the world, you can’t do it alone. You’re going to need other people to join you. You’ll need partners of all sorts. Funding partners. Program participants. Cheerleaders to help get the word out. Donors and volunteers.

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In other words, you’re going to need to create a movement. And the only way to do that? You need to move people. You need to transport them from the routines of their daily life to the front lines of the problems you’re trying to solve.

And how do you move people?

That’s where creativity comes into play.

You need media assets that bring your issue to life. You need photos, videos, and stories that make things real for the person seeing them.

You need a voice and visuals that lets your audience know that your mission is theirs too. Fonts, color palettes, aesthetics, and other elements all send signals of who a message is for.

You need to master the art of storytelling, so that the story somebody tells about themself overlaps with the change you wish to see in the world.

You need a strategy for how to get all of this in front of people. Because in a world where technology rewrites these rules every couple years, we always need to relearn the art of showing up.

All of the nonprofits I get the most excited about, from IJM to Preemptive Love Coalition and many others, have invested heavily in the way they tell their story. They have strategic brand guidelines. They know that every message matters.

Throughout history, figures like Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela applied creativity to invite people into a new story about their country and their relationship with each other.

And now it’s your turn. If there’s a change you want to see in the world, and I’m sure there is, how will you double down on creativity?

Philippe Lazaro