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Finding inspiration online

The Internet is your best friend to find inspiration. Here are a few tips on how to get started. Once you master these simple steps, it becomes fairly easy to find interesting and provocative insights in very little time. The important thing is how you use the list below: when you go on a quest for inspiration you need to be curious, keep an open mind, and keep on clicking on links, even if it doesn’t seem totally relevant at first. And just don’t give up too quickly. It always takes a bit of time to dig this precious nugget. There are many ways to do it and this is not trying to be an exhaustive list. The below will sound simple, yet I’m constantly impressed by the amount of people who don’t use any of it.

1/ the communication objectives. What are we trying to communicate.

Wikipedia. I use it to look up the important words the client wants to communicate. Happiness, muscularity, complacency, optimism, rebellion, patience are all very generic terms that you can start understanding more and get to interesting point of views for your brief specifications. It also helps finding fresh new ideas on topics that have been done to death. Always check the associated terms, and the appendixes at the bottom of an article.

The trick is to really explore everything. Most often that not, I found inspiration starting from a quick dig at Wiki.

Example on a brief for muscularity and masculinity, I found the associated term testosterone, which fitted the bill perfectly, but also ended using the metrosexual association that led me to the discovery of the uber-sexual, which I used in my brief to the creative team (and shaped the tone of voice). From a bland and generic term like masculinity to an interesting point of view on masculinity in our modern society.

– Buy books on Amazon about your topics. At £2-5 a book, everyone can. So you should. Want to understand the importance of design in people’s life? Then buy that book: Emotional Design: Why We Love (or Hate) Everyday Things. Someone, somewhere has written a book about what you are trying to talk about. It might be worth reading it before starting to write some assumptions based on what your mum or daughter thinks about it.

2/ What people think about the brand or the product you are working on

Ciao. This is no way a replacement for proper research, but it´s easy to find a few consumer (and unbiased) reviews of your client products. It´s interesting to look at the trends and the words they use. There is something funny about reading unincentivised consumers reviews. They tend to be in either a mindset of evangelising the product or warning them about it. They go to great lengths to describe the products and there is always one or two very interesting nuggets in them. Always take it with a pinch of salt though. Just look for ideas.

Looking for what people think of Warburtons ‘s products here for example. 16 reviews, lots of interesting thoughts. I found inspiration that I’m now in the process of developping.

Google groups, although is more difficult to uncover things within it.

Google, obviously. But what’s important here is the use of the “”. It still surprises me how many people don’t know about them. Try to put “love + your product” generally gives you some interesting information as well. There are other ways that make searching Google more accurate and you should master them. Start now.

– Specialists websites, with product reviews.

While working on for a car manufacturer, I found on “what car” a quote from a random user, that he loved the car so much that he was now driving the 0.5 mile to the convenient store every morning. That stuck in my mind and my proposition became all about getting the joy of the first drive back, when you start driving for the first time and want to drive everywhere… before it becomes a chore. This new car was putting the pleasure back in driving, just like the one you had your first time.

If you work in technology, then its Engadget, Shiny Shin…. Look for the comments after the product reviews. And Technorati is a good tool to see what bloggers are talking about. As well as the obvious Google trends.

3/ What is your audience doing online

Depending on who they are, it’s always interesting to browse their profiles in the Social network, there is so much information in there about them, and it’s relatively easy to browse. You need to pick the right ones though. Bebo is quite young, piczo even younger, MySpace is still strong among music fans, Facebook is, er, everyone?

Example: I was working on a online brief for Snickers. After browsing a lot of profiles of 16-18 year old guys on Myspace, I was surprised by the amount of stuff they were pretending to do: extreme skying, boxing, DJing, lot of outdoor stuff… It is obviously a way for them to show how active they were to their peers and the opposite sex. The brief became to find a way to provide them with things that they could put on their MySpace page (that was 2 years ago…) that would let them show off how active they are and leverage the competitivity they have between them (I do more stuff than you).

4/ Stimulus

Millions of websites for that. Here are a few favourite.

I often go on FEED to find great video I can show to the creative.

Call me old school, but I often look for quotes associated with my brief. Just type the word in Google and quote. There is always a clever chap that managed to summarise what you are thinking in a sentence. You want to get your hands on it.

I also like to check these two websites to keep up with the digital artists. There is always lots of stuff to be stolen from them.



For fun pictures, I also use http://ffffound.com/

For video, the choice is yours. But when you want to say to your creative that the new Mazda handles pretty well, that video will do a much better job than any words.

There are obviously a lot more things you could be doing. I’d be happy to hear your favourites. The idea for the new Lynx website came partly from randomly finding in Google a stat that said ‘20% of young guys have met their girlfriend online’.

The above is a quick fix for when you are in a rush. It cannot however replace a daily browsing, through varied websites, (not your favourite 5) which is the best way to dramatically reduce the time it will take you to find relevant information online and make sure you always find fresh new stuff.

  1. March 7, 2008 at 1:29 pm

    Great stuff – I wrote a quick post on online ratings – always take them with a pinch of salt. If clients are nervous about negative comments about their product, I usually show them toptable or tripadvisor – generally the people who complain on those sites sound like idiots. You get reviews like “If you want to have an overpriced cocktail in a poncey bar full of stuck up media types then this is the bar for you” Yep, sounds like the bar for me.

  2. March 7, 2008 at 4:34 pm

    what about yahoo questions-answers?

    i did a thesis “observation in advertising. a perspective on creative writing in communication”. i was very interested in the old-school get out there meet people, listen to people talk in bars, how they talk, what they talk about, what they do in supermarkets, what fruits do they squeeze, that kind of stuff. i was very excited when i started working. i work in a creative focused agency and we always said, i guess i was taught, start with the people to talk to the people, get creative in story telling, it´s their story. where you look i guess is defined by the brief. i´ll get to the point, a bit of that died in me as i started finding so many things on the net, but i still think it´s a great exercise and it should never be lost. i had the opportunity of interviewing a couple of trainees (i hate that word) and i enjoyed hours of talks about this being the first step, then ideas, then strategy. i don´t know where inspiration comes in all of this, i don´t bealive too much in the ingenius part of creative, i think it´s all about story telling, observation, ideas and tying it all on strategy. big juggling game.

    happy to have discovered your blog. via scamp. cheers.

  3. gen
    March 10, 2008 at 12:36 pm

    useful post for inspiration!
    always worth doing a quick Tweet Scan to get a snapshot view on brands/products/services.
    glad to have found your blog mate.
    hope all is well?

  4. Digicynic
    March 10, 2008 at 12:43 pm

    Hi mate,

    Everything’s fine thanks.

    Thanks for Tweet scan, didn’t know about it. Very interesting.

    Likewise for the blog.

    Cheers, Jerome.

  5. Christian Michelassi
    February 21, 2009 at 5:21 pm

    Really liked your post! So useful for me!

    You mentioned you visit the ffffound website to find fun pictures. Do you have an account there?! I’ve been looking for an invitation. Could you invite me?


  1. March 11, 2008 at 2:14 pm
  2. April 23, 2008 at 11:45 am
  3. September 10, 2008 at 4:25 pm

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