How to be more original with less


Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi doesn’t have 10 fingers. He lost the ends of two of them in an accident. Since then he’s had to play in an unusual style, which has helped give his band its distinctive sound.

In Iran, there is widespread censorship. To find ways around it, film makers there have to be inventive. And that’s led to some internationally acclaimed productions.

In Hong Kong, architect Gary Chang lives in a tiny, 344sq ft apartment. Using sliding walls and detachable shelving though, he’s created an extraordinary space that converts into 24 different layouts.

Those are just a few examples of how the lack of something can lead to an innovative outcome.

Sometimes I need to remind myself of that when faced with an advertising brief where the production budget is next to nothing.

Oddly enough, a lack of money forces you to think more deeply about the problem you need to solve. And that leads to creative solutions that are more original than you might otherwise have come up with.

A tip from music producer Brian Eno

“if you want to get unusual results, work fast and work cheap, because there’s more of a chance that you’ll get somewhere that nobody else did. Nearly always, the effect of spending a lot of money is to make things more normal.” 

I’ve found Eno’s advice also works in marketing and advertising.

Recently, my art director and I had to create a campaign for a new brand. Once again there wasn’t much money to play with.

We knew that our campaign had to be strongly branded to stand out in a highly competitive market. And original photography would be too expensive.

So we came up with an idea based on the packaging, and requiring only illustration. The result was an easily affordable campaign that looked like nothing else out there in the marketplace.

How to produce an original, affordable campaign

If you need to stretch your production budget as far as possible, and you want to create an original piece of work, here’s what I recommend:

Look for a creative idea that comes out of the brand design, be it the logo or packaging.

Then you can produce big, branded ideas on a small budget.

2 replies
  1. Pete
    Pete says:

    True enough. An even better example than Tony Iommi is Django Reinhardt, who had only about two fingers and half a thumb on one hand following a fire in his gypsy caravan when he was a boy. His resulting playing style is legendary.

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